Evoking early comparisons to rap canon staples (Doggystyle) and modern classics (Good Kid, m.A.A.d city), YG’s debut album, My Krazy Life, has gained an added air of importance almost overnight. It isn’t all that difficult to see why – it’s the kind of album-length statement that few expected, and another marquee contemporary rap motion picture borne out of the streets of Compton.
Much like Doggystyle, YG’s My Krazy Life is the work of two entities working in perfect concert, with longtime friend and collaborator DJ Mustard orchestrating much of the score for YG’s surprisingly narrative-heavy debut album. From the moment the opening G-Funk synthesizers hit on “BPT,” YG and Mustard make clear what they’re about, and that’s wearing “Bompton” proudly for all to hear.
The classically rooted influences run album deep, more so than what the singles might have suggested: you can hear it on the menacing low-end of “Bicken Back Being Bool,” the woozy synths and vocoder-laced hook on “Meet The Flockers,” and the face-scrunch-inducing rider music of “Really Be (Smokin N Drinkin).” And there are few things more West Coast than indelibly icy keyboard loops, a Mustard staple that can be heard across My Krazy Life. On the heels of an impressive run of hit singles, DJ Mustard throws in his share of change-ups as well, like the almost cartoonish violin over the pulsating bass of the anthemic “Left, Right” or the heavy, playful piano on “Do It To Ya.”
If it seems like the focal point on My Krazy Life is the production, it’s because the album is as much if not more about sound and vibe as it is about the storytelling. But YG is just as big a part of that as his production partner. If not exactly a singular presence just yet, YG has a deceptively melodic delivery and a unique sense of phrasing that makes his blunt lyricism something more than just what’s on the page. He can go from finding strange pockets in the production to rapping sharp, biting couplets to adopting Tupac-esque end-line inflections with equal comfort.
As a spin on the conceptually-minded good kid, m.A.A.d city, My Krazy Life presents YG as the Doughboy to Kendrick’s Tre. YG doesn’t do much to reinvent the structure, but his loosely knitted embrace of Compton street life and everything that comes with it — the violence, the b*tches, the partying, the stresses — gives the album direction. It’s a fun coincidence that the album’s big single, “My N*gga,” is something of a Vine classic. The windows into YG’s world — the home robbery on “Meet the Flockers,” the relationship drama of “Do It To Ya,” and the heist gone bad on “1AM” — would kill in visual five-second loops.
That’s not to sell YG’s perspective short. His story runs the gamut from love and family to partying to crime and incarceration, often overlapping one other. He doesn’t do all his themes and characters equal justice – the enemies and women in his life are sometimes rendered faceless, and the album’s conscience-rearing outro feels undeserved if admittedly touching – but there are few blatant overreaches on My Krazy Life.
In an era in which new artists are almost forced to master the album format before even releasing their true debuts, album-making is still far from a science (see the many project-oriented rappers who have crashed and burned when armed with a barcode). YG might see it otherwise. To hear him tell it, “It’s easy to make a classic album.” If obviously hyperbole, My Krazy Life proves if nothing else that he’s learned some good lessons in the pursuit.