Modern Hip-Hop music has become increasingly commercial over the last decade.
Artists like Kanye West and Drake have incorporated more pop into their latest albums, but neither artists’ album is as thought provoking or true to the origins of the genre as is YG’s sophomore effort Still Brazy.
The album delves into a wide array of issues like life in Compton, racism, and fame. Brazy is the most socially sound rap album of the year. YG incorporates west coast styles in the record, creating funky beats that remain consistent in each track without sounding repetitive. He sets the sound and tone on album opener “Don’t Come to LA” and joins the ranks of Drake on “Why You Always Hatin?” Cut from the same cloth, the tracks are variant enough to successfully exist on the same record.
Though several of the songs have the power to stand alone as singles, “Still Brazy” is the rare album that is more than the sum of its parts.
Narratively, “Don’t Come to LA”, introduces a frustrated YG. He describes the ignorant obsession with Compton as it has been encompassed by the glitz and glam of Hollywood and Los Angeles. YG stresses that Compton is not a tourist attraction but rather a dangerous and dark place.
Illustrating this danger is the immediately following “Who Shot Me?”, a recap of YG’s shooting that occurred during the making of the album.
In “Gimmie Got Shot” and “She Wish She Was,” YG discusses his newfound fame and how it has changed his relationships with those closest to him. The west coast rapper contemplates his personal relationships as well as those with the police in “I Got a Question.”
Following “I Got a Question” is “Why You Always Hatin?”. In the track, YG and Drake ask why they receive so much hate in the wake of their success as rappers. Responding to the hate, YG remains “Bool, Balm and Collective,” rapping from a calmer perspective and providing a respite from the often thematically heavy project. The Compton MC boasts of his aloof attitude towards the hate and danger that occupies his surroundings.
Each of these tracks leads up to the climactic “Still Brazy.” The standout song of the record, “Still Brazy” presents a stressed YG. He realizes the issues he faced in Compton have not gone away since he became a celebrity.
Though the record is incredibly personal, YG does not leave out broader issues. He expresses his concerns with the presidential race with “FDT”, sheds light on the mistreatment of minorities in “Blacks and Browns,” and closes the album with the lingering”Police Get Away wit Murder.”
Still Brazy is a phenomenal album.
Its funky vibe and introspective style make it stand among the greatest rap albums of the past decade. YG joins the likes of Kendrick Lamar by appealing to the mainstream while staying true to his roots. YG’s integrity and vulnerability alone are enough to make Still Brazy worth the listen.