If you can’t quite place the name Yukmouth, don’t fret. It’s been over 15 years since he permanently ingrained himself into Hip-Hop history on “I Got 5 on It,” and repeated listening to Luniz’ weed anthem can cause the memory to go hazy. Not content with being a one hit wonder, Yukmouth’s been locking down the West Coast underground for years. On his latest full length release, The West Coast Don, he showcases the veteran savvy and skills learned from spending years in the rap game, while also revealing limitations preventing greater crossover successes.
Yukmouth’s at his best when he’s recalling the glory days of Cali Hip-Hop. Album closer “Sum Dem Murda,” featuring guest clique The Regime is a throwback to the posse tracks of days lost. The formula’s simple, a militant bass, looped sample, and a whole lot of spitting about crime and punishment. Plenty of the 18 tracks find Yukmouth staying within these comfortable confines of West Coast gangster rap. “They Like My Swag,” rolls easily over producer Reo’s bouncy piano as Yuk goes over the contents of his wardrobe and garage. “LA Shit,” gives an Bay Area perspective on Los Angeles and pulls no punches on the fakeness pervasive amongst the City of Angels’ inhabitants from the Hollywood models to Compton gangsters.
Yukmouth’s strings together enough decent rhymes with occasional witty punchlines to keep you paying attention. Most of the time. The middle of the album bogs down as one track seems to meld into the other. Part of this is some sloppiness on Yukmouth’s part—he’s too often content to recycle phrases, like “Cash rules,” and “Capone and Eliot Ness.” The staleness isn’t confined to the lyrics, as his flow slips noticeably when he tries take on the Southern styles of “Ain’t Nobody Fuckin’ With Me.”
There are attempts to break out of the West Coast Gangster comfort zone by Yukmouth, with mixed results. Auto-Tune rises from death on “Da Town,” to surprisingly effective results providing light contrast to fierce gangster rhymes from Yukmouth. And “Sumthen Special’s” status as the token girl track on the album doesn’t deter it from being one of the album’s strong points. But further attempts to incorporate the South’s success of the last decade into Yuk’s repertoire fall flat. He sounds disinterested with the No Limit style beats and high-hats on the T-Pain featured “44,” and “Stay On It.” Sometimes you can’t teach an old dog new tricks.
These weak tracks and a lack of overall coherence to the project derail the album from being a true sleeper. But ultimately Yukmouth proves with The West Coast Don that there’s still a place for him and West Coast styles in Hip-Hop. Fans of either should put 5 on it.
Previously Posted — Yukmouth Feat. Crooked I & Ray J – “I’m A Gangsta”