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Album Review: Tyga, Hotel California

On last year’s Careless World: Rise of the Last King, Tyga went to great lengths to prove he was deeper than “Rack City”.  And he actually fared pretty well in doing so. Attempts at displaying emotion and having substance, like on the nearly eight-minute “Love Game”,  hit their mark, and Tyga surprised us, showing more versatility than most people thought he had in him. But judging from his latest album, Hotel California, Tyga might not really care about proving that point anymore.

With a guest list that reads like a who’s who of hip hop’s most successful rappers of the day – Lil Wayne, Rick Ross, Wiz Khalifa, Chris Brown, Future and 2 Chainz – Hotel California has it’s share of potential radio records. The production, which draws from a talented pool of beat makers like DJ Mustard, FKi and 1500 or Nothin’, is clean, well orchestrated and in typical Tyga fashion, very catchy. Unfortunately, most of these songs stick to a singular formula.

The most dominant sound Tyga raps over here are similar-feeling, sparse-yet-dramatic, ratchet-esque, up-tempo beats, aka he’s going for a few more “Rack City”s. These canvases are filled in with subject-matter that usually begins with something drug or sex-related before trailing off with a series of tough to follow, unrelated rhymes. At times it’s like a bad game of telephone. Take the first three tracks, “500 Degrees,” Dope Song,” and “Get Loose.” None of these records sound particularly foul, but after a few initial spins it becomes difficult to discern a true difference – or memorable moment – between any of them.

Hotel California still has it’s moments. Tyga’s charisma and technical abilities alongside the sheer quality of featured artists and producers allow it to. On the Detail-produced “Show You, Future saves the day with a dreamy, harmonizing hook and Tyga switches gears impressively, balancing a strong flow and a melodic sing-rap. “M.O.E.”, an honest ode to weed and women feels right here, flipping Jay-Z’s “Feelin It”. “It Neva Rains” is predicated on another cheeky sample, this time of Tony!Toni!Toné!”’s “It Never Rains (in Southern California)”. Some might consider this reaching – after all, the original was a 90’s R&B classic – but sample-masters Cool & Dre help give this record a distinctly California sound and feel that’s scenic and enjoyable.

But despite the emphatic cover-art, impressive production, and some superstar guest appearances, Hotel California still doesn’t feel like Tyga’s “swing for the fences” album. It takes fewer risks than Careless World and as a result there are less payoffs. Tyga still thrives in his comfort zone and there are songs that will find success on this album. It’s a desire for more than that that’s missing here.—@WavyDaveWilliam

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