Listening to his debut record, My Krazy Life, back in 2013, YG, Young Jeezy’s new label signee, teamed up with DJ Mustard to produce a genuine West Side sounding rap album, but one in which the strengths came from the hooks and DJ Mustard’s instrumentals more than from YG himself. It was another rap record that you kind of drown out the vocals and just enjoy the music for, which is nothing that a rap album should really be. Here on Still Brazy, his follow-up, YG has really stepped up his game, sounding more confident and commanding through his verses than ever before.
Working with a myriad of producers for this record, YG really captured that G-funk West Coast sound from the late 90’s/early 2000’s, focusing on the trend of revivalism in hip-hop/rap today like with artists such as Kendrick Lamar, Joey Bada$$, Action Bronson, Anderson .Paak, etc. Instead of going the neo-soul or 80’s New York route however, YG goes for the quintessential West Coast synth-funk made famous by artists like Dr. Dre and his production on Snoop Dogg & Eminem records of that time.
It’s a smart move, not only because he sounds unique in an era where no one is really producing music like this anymore, since Dr. Dre’s latest Compton record sounded more contemporary than 2001, but also because there’s a clear popularity for this specific kind of sound that still exists. Still Brazy is able to ride off that wave of films like Straight Outta Compton, bringing that kind of music back in 2016. It not only sounds great here on Still Brazy, but balances the gritty and often socially aware lyrical material with something fun. There’s a catchy-ness to Still Brazy that didn’t exist on My Krazy Life, and YG sounds like he’s having more of his personality flow through the album.
With tracks like “Don’t Come to LA,” “Who Shot Me?,” “Gimmie Got Shot,” and “Bool, Balm, and Bollective,” YG actually has a lot of great bars on social commentary of the area and Compton life. Sure, a record about Compton isn’t anything new, but YG nonetheless makes it sound original to him if not an original concept to the audience. He does however, say that he “put Bompton on the map” and that he’s “the only rapper to make it out the West without Dre,” which are both kind-of mostly wrong.
I mean, he’s not the first, or even most successful, Blood-affiliated rapper from Compton: Jay Rock, Suge Knight, Waka Flocka Flame, B-Real of Cypress Hill, Birdman & Lil Wayne, Kendrick (only by father association), and most notably, The Game, someone who 100% put Bompton on the map. For his second claim, yes, while The Game, Kendrick, Eminem, Snoop Dogg, and other huge West Coast names did go through Dr. Dre, YG still isn’t the only one on the West to make it out without him. Just look at Ice-T, E-40, Too $hort, Del the Funky Homosapien, and I don’t know, everyone from Odd Future.
Besides an air of un-acclaimed historical importance Blood-rappers like to give themselves, with only really The Game deserving of such braggadocio, the rest of his rhymes that aren’t those two specific lines, and the kind of sexist “She Wish She Was,” are actually very socially forward and smart. Tracks like “Gimmie Got Shot,” “Blacks & Browns,” and “Police Get Away wit Murder,” taking up most of the end of the record, are where YG gets the most political and original in the way he chooses to speak about topics such as gun violence, police brutality, and rampant racism in this country. Most notably is a track called “fdt,” revealed to stand for “Fuck Donald Trump” after the intro, which as a song that is very comical yet still accurately anti-Trump. It’s a track that I thought worked really well for what is was, especially with the Nipsey Hustle feature, who sounds like he’s so flabbergasted by Trump that he can’t even get the words out right.
Overall, Still Brazy isn’t the most lyrically diverse record. Sometimes trying to get across a message that gets twisted due to features like the horrible Jay 305 verse on “She Wish She Was,” ruining the song, or some lyrics here and there on gang life and the usual un-original odd rap ego brags, Still Brazy is by no means a perfect record. As great as some of the beats, catchy hooks, or YG’s Compton stories can be, there are some not-so-PC tracks as well. What makes the record though are YG’s more socially conscious tracks and the fantastic g-funk revival sound. Where My Krazy Life showed potential for future YG records, Still Brazy does so again, but delivers on this decent stepping stone in the right direction.