YG – Still Brazy | Review

I pretty much hated My Krazy Life. Let’s start there. Looking back at that review, I can only conclude that my opinion was a product of its time. I still think that DJ Mustard’s beats all sound the same, and that most of that album sounds like tracings of Mustard’s other hits from that era. Therefore, I see how the resultant cheap and haphazard sound of the album would have turned me off immediately. But maybe I was a bit harsh in not mentioning Bompton, which, now separated from Mustard’s radio reign, sounds pretty damn good.

Still Brazy cover

Irregardless (tee-hee), we’re here to talk about Still Brazy.

This is YG’s new, Mustard-less, album. As you might guess, I’m feeling it way more than that last joint. YG feels more comfortable on these beats from various producers, and the sound is a much grittier take on the West Coast than Mustard’s reliance on clean synths and catchiness.

Not that YG is averse to being catchy. But where the last album felt like he was often being pulled into other coasts’ sounds, Still Brazy finds ways to make classic West sounds fresh and compelling. For evidence, look no further than Twist My Fingaz. The synthesized bass is fat as hell and there’s even a vocoder in the mix on this bouncy track. It’s so West Coast that you might even feel the urge to throw up a sign when YG says, in the hook:

Should’ve seen how a nigga pulled up in the ride
In the ride, in the ride
Got two motherfuckers, wanna fight me outside
Fight me outside, fight me outside
I just do my dance, and cuff my pants
And twist my fingers, with my hands
I just do my dance, and cuff my pants
And twist my fingers, with my hands

As you also might guess, Twist My Fingaz isn’t about much, and the same can be said for other greats here like Word is Bond. I now understand that YG isn’t trying to say a lot in the first place, his music is instead all about straightforward illustrations of his krazy/brazy life. Given that, it’s understandable that when he does choose a topic to hit hard, the results are mixed. I Got A Question is about his problems with police and his girlfriend, and it’s very good, until Lil Wayne MURDERS his verse that’s about nothing yet sounds so good, elevating the song to perfection.

Meanwhile, the album sadly ends on a down-note, with topical songs that mostly fail for me. Fdt’s beat and verses are much too simple to be compelling, even if I do agree with the sentiment (fuck Donald Trump). Blacks and Browns, about the need for minorities to stick together, suffers from the exact same problems, while Police Get Away With Murder has better energy in its instrumental and vocals, resulting in pretty good results. While my social media timelines are flooded with anger at police brutality, I still appreciate hearing a bigger-name rapper reflecting that same emotion.

Still Brazy isn’t revolutionary in its sound nor its verses, but it’s interesting to contrast it with albums like Vince Staples’ Summer 06 and Kendrick Lamar’s Good Kid, M.A.A.D. City. Where those rappers have an insight that makes their music take on much more critical depth, YG’s music is no less of a documentary of the same type of life. And while The Game often seems to celebrate the negatives of that life, YG is at least more sober and honest. Who Shot Me‘s post-shooting paranoia is extremely real and vulnerable, putting on display his thoughts after being shot last year.

In terms of handling harmful events and attitudes with respect, She Wish She Was is, by far, the worst song on this album. It’s openly hostile to women, reveling in the double standard that society judges them much more harshly for promiscuity than it does men. This cognitive dissonance is even tossed aside by one of the song’s guests:

Why you always single? Why you think you so cute?
Why girls be called hoes when they fuck a lot of dudes?
Well shit, the answer is this
Y’all bleed once a month and all we got is a dick

But, even that song could be seen as YG unapologetically giving us his life for observation. Agree with his ideas or not, they’re real and far from unique, and, on top of them coming in entertaining music, that’s why they need to be heard.

3/5

Highlights:

  1. Word is Bond
  2. Twist My Fingaz
  3. I Got a Question
  4. Still Brazy

Side thoughts:

  1. It’s weird that YG starts a verse in Twist My Fingaz wondering “why all these rap niggas wanna be Bloods?”, when, just a few songs later, there’s a Lil Wayne feature. Isn’t Wayne the same guy who became a Blood well after he became famous??!! Confused Nick Young meme
  2. What the hell has Mustard been doing lately!? What happened to his plans to run rap for something like 10 summers? Also: DJ Mustard's two-key piano
  3. I’m so glad I decided to give this album a chance even after disliking YG’s first! Shout out to the folks at Dead End Hip-Hop for convincing me.
  4. Can we talk about the hook on Why You Always Hatin? for a second? Sweet Jesus that thing is terrible! The whole song is atrocious. YG’s verses are okay, but the beat is everything I hated about My Krazy Life, the hook is dead simple and monotoned by someone’s preteen sister, and not even Drake’s verse is decent. UGH!

Leave a Reply