If somebody said that YG is the last real gangsta rapper alive, you’d be hard pressed to make an argument to the contrary. Since his arrival in 2009, the Compton rapper has made sure that people knew where he came from and what he represents. There are no double entendres or lyrical gymnastics involved when the 28-year-old steps to the microphone. It’s as straightforward as it comes, and it’s the reason why he’s garnered a healthy fan base over the years.
After going the intelligent gangster route with the acclaimed Still Brazy, YG has decided to dial it back a bit for his third studio album Still Dangerous, out today (Aug. 3). You won’t find any political overtures this time around, as YG is focused on giving the streets what they originally fell in love with. Still Dangerous is raw, ruthless and uncut. But the question remains: Is it good?
Here are five things that immediately jumped out at us upon the first listen.
YG is as dangerous as ever
If there’s a recurring theme on Still Dangerous, it’s that YG decided to go back to his roots for his third studio album. Where Still Brazy managed to have a more conscious edge to it with “FDT” (“Fuck Donald Trump”) garnering nationwide acclaim, Still Dangerous tucks itself neatly behind the streets that raised Keenon Daequon Ray Jackson. Much of the content surrounds Los Angeles gang life and will certainly resonate with those who missed that side of YG. Songs like “Suu Whoop” are a testament to the Blood culture and a callout to the posers who attempt to represent, while “Too Brazy” circles familiar territory where YG and Mozzy dare you to test their gangsta.
“Too much red, I might start a fire.”
YG and DJ Mustard’s chemistry is better than ever
Although Still Brazy showed a great deal of growth from YG, the absence of DJ Mustard was sorely missed on the album. Now that the two have mended fences over financial differences, it’s back to the basics throughout Still Dangerous. The trademark thump of Mustard can be heard on ten of the fifteen tracks, and is a welcome addition to the album. “Too Cocky” exemplifies everything that we’ve come to love about the tandem, with YG’s trash talking gliding over a signature “Hey” beat from Mustard. It’s good to hear these two back at it again, and even better to know that they haven’t grown apart in any fashion.
Ty Dolla $ign continues to have an excellent 2018
Who would have thought that the two guys who dropped “Toot It and Boot It” in 2009 would be where they are at today? The dynamic duo is back together for “Power,” on which the duo addresses the influence women have over men by inadvertently using sex as a weapon. Ty Dolla $ign has yet to miss this year, and drops through to give Mustard’s production the energy needed to put the song over the top. It’s a far cry from the candy coated overtures of “Toot It and Boot It,” but still traverses the gruff sexual landscape that made their initial collaboration a smash hit.
YG’s lyrical growth
When YG first arrived on the scene, the one criticism that followed him was that he often fell short lyrically. However, as evidenced on Still Dangerous, he’s showed some impressive growth as a rapper. He’s become a better storyteller and tinkers with different rhyme schemes, without sacrificing his straightforward approach that endeared him to his fans. Songs such as “Deeper Than Rap” find YG lamenting about the pitfalls of being successful, while “10 Times” epitomizes the album’s title as YG rhymes about staying true to himself despite his mainstream stardom he’s acquired over the past decade.
He may never be Kendrick Lamar, but he doesn’t have to be. He’s carved out a lane and has managed to put some polish on his style. Fans will certainly appreciate his dedication to his craft, while the naysayers may finally be able to admit that he’s become quite the serviceable rapper.
Over a spare arrangement, YG reflects on his trials and tribulations over the years; he’s gone from touring the streets looking for trouble, to touring the globe trying to…stay out of trouble. It’s one of the few moments where YG puts his machismo aside and simply reflects on the past. He also recognizes that he has the ability to save lives and addresses it in a potent third verse that closes out the album. Over the past nine years, YG has been through a lot. But the one thing he remains true to is the streets where he cut his teeth. As much tough talk that has been spewed, it’s a song like this that reminds the listener that YG isn’t restricted to being ultra-aggressive on every song. There are softer moments of introspection and reflection, which is what makes “Bomptown Finest” the perfect album closer.