YG’s sophomore album “Still Brazy” proves that the Compton native is just that, still brazy but a lot more socially conscious.
On YG’ first album ‘My Krazy Life’, we heard a first hand perspective of LA gang culture and all it entailed (burglary, street fights, drugs), from a person who was not only trapped in the hood, but thrived in it!
Sidenote: It’s difficult not to draw comparisons between YG’s debut album and that of another Compton rapper, Kendrick Lamar’s critically acclaimed ‘GOOD Kid, m.A.A.d City’. The tale of a less willing participant in LA gang culture.
Two Sides Of The Same Coin. Just listen to Kendrick’s song ‘The Art Of Peer Pressure’ and YG’s song ‘Meet The Flockers’.
Two years later and we’re on a very different journey with a very different YG….
‘Still Brazy’ is the story of a gangsta stuck in ‘hood purgatory’ – too rich and famous to need to be in the hood, but ‘too hood’ to know any other way of life.
It Gets Deep. After being shot at his studio last year, YG is constantly on edge, in his own words “he’s got trust issues”. On the track ‘Who Shot Me’ we hear YG thinking out loud, asking himself not only who shot him but why they shot him? Is it because of his money? Envy from those close to him? or maybe his past in the street is starting to catch up with him? He may never find out who pulled the trigger but the incident has made him evolve into a more introspective artist and it shows in the music.
YG For President? Sometimes the best way to deliver a message isn’t with a letter through the door, but with a brick through the window. On this album YG delivers 3 bricks, each complete with poignant handwritten note; “Fuck Donald Trump”, “Blacks and Browns” and “Police Get Away With Murder”.
By no stretch of the imagination has YG now become the Nelson Mandela of our time, or even the Mos Def, but he must be commended for being one of the few mainstream rappers to own up to his social responsibility as a voice of the disenfranchised and try to make a difference.
The very deliberate positioning of these three songs at the end of the album adds a lot of context to the LA gang culture – illustrating how they feel trapped within a system which has forced them to fend for themselves and adopt a ‘by any means necessary’ mentality. Furthermore, the three songs also represent the powerful coming together of LA’s three major gangs in the shape of YG (a blood), Nipsey Hussle (a crip) and Sad Boy (a latino), to unite against threats they all share – police brutality, politicians and poverty.
It’s Funky. You can’t downplay DJ Mustard’s role on the first album (produced 12 out of 18 tracks), but his presence is certainly not missed on YG’s second project… matter a fact I’d go as far as to say that the production is even better! The album signals a return of the ‘G Funk’ sound that put LA on the map in the early 90’s. Tracks like ‘Twist My Fingaz’ and ‘ Word Is Bond’ succeed at being both refreshing and nostalgic at the same time – putting the new school onto one of rap’s most iconic sounds, whilst taking the ‘old heads’ on a trip down memory lane.
On the whole YG manages to deliver a very solid follow-up album. Its singles may not have reached the heights of his first project, but its broad subject matter and outstanding production arguably make it a better body of work. Definitely a strong contender for rap album of the year.
Overall Rating 8/10
Tracks To Listen Out For: ‘Still Brazy’, ‘Police Get Away With Murder’, ‘Who Shot Me’ and ‘Gimme Got Shot’