Review Summary: The sun glows orange over the Pacific Ocean. A '64 Chevy Impala lurches to one side, its opposite side boosted by powerful hydraulic pumps. Weed smoke permeates the air above it.
When YG’s (Keenon Jackson) atmospheric single “My Nigga” was released last year it didn't become an instant smash hit. Instead it slowly built momentum before a viral Vine video sent the song rocketing into the top 20. It reigned on rap radio for months and still sits in regular rotation. Unfortunately, “My Nigga”s omnipresence quickly fatigued the song and now it’s more likely to get a quick flip of the dial than a full listen. But the way “My Nigga” is cleverly sequenced into YG’s debut album My Krazy Life
grants it a second life.
After just over 2 minutes of the tense, anxious home invasion step by step “Meet the Flockers”, the beat drops out for guest artist Tee Cee’s line “Hit my first lick passed with my niggas aye
!” The instant that line ends, the epic first synth hit for “My Nigga” comes ripping out of “Flockers” nervy dread. Similar to a masterful DJ beat transition, the effect is overwhelmingly pleasurable. It hits the reset button on every time you’ve ever heard “My Nigga” and makes the song sound brand new again.
My Krazy Life
has come out of nowhere to secure an easy position among the best rap albums of the year and an official heads up that ratchet music has arrived. Perhaps most impressive is the fact that My Krazy Life
sounds unmistakably West Coast without sounding exactly like 2001
or The Chronic
. DJ Mustard’s distinctive sound, which laces 10 of the album’s 14 songs, is filled with miles of open space and a refreshing, reserved approach to bass.
YG twists songs with the perfect amount of gritty reality and fantastic escapism. When YG raps, “It's a must in the county, I ain't have no pagers/My bitch wouldn't come see me, I was in there masturbating” it’s darkly funny and hard not to take him at his word. YG’s earlier days were spent robbing houses. Instead of tried and true lyrics about cooking cocaine, we get vividly intense works like “Meet the Flockers”, a second by second recounting of a home invasion. Even the requisite mom ode “Sorry Momma” is filled with spirit and empathy by recreating an argument between YG and his mother.
A collection of West side bangers like “Left, Right” and “Who Do You Love” would have been enough for a recommendation but what really puts My Krazy Life
over the top is that it also hides a concept album in it. Even looser than Kendrick Lamar’s, who contributes a furious verse on “Really Be (Smokin N Drinkin)", Good Kid, M.A.A.D. City
, My Krazy Life
tells a story that begins with YG robbing a random house in a Chinese neighborhood (“because they don't believe in bank accounts”) and ends with YG in prison. The plot never harms the album’s momentum or reduces songs to mere plot advancing. Instead, it furthers My Krazy Life
’s widescreen portrait of Los Angeles.
That the “Toot and Boot It” guy got to release an album at all is pretty amazing. That it turned out to be this good is nothing short of incredible. Despite two better-than-average-but-still-not-so-great for the ladies tracks (“Do It To Ya” and “Me & My Bitch”, helpfully sequenced together for easy skipping), My Krazy Life
has emerged as one of the most enjoyable rap albums of the year. It’s attention to detail extends all the way down to the sequencing of skits at the end of tracks instead of the beginning. Even Biggie got that wrong once.