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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

  • DonDraper

    Good review XXL. I agree. Now, where did the IANAH 2 by LIl Wayne review go? Why did you guys take it down (it got an M, too). Why did you take it down? It was up for a few hours when the album came out and XXL took it down. I understand this isn’t relevant to this review but I think us readers deserve and answer. Hopefully XXL doesn’t take this down too.

    • sk8injuan

      I think YMCMB paid them to take down the review to prevent people seeing who poorly rated it was.

      • me

        yeah i think so too

      • amili

        youre retarted idiot ignorant butt munch.

    • Real

      yeah i agree too. I used to be a huge wayne fan around dedication 2 – Carter 3 after that he seem like he got so cocky he wasnt hungry no more. Also i think wayne came out with so many mixtapes he has no more content for his music. Allof his songs on albums sound like something he had on a mixtape he also recycle metaphors and punchlines over and over.

    • http://www.facebook.com/chris.etrata.7 Chris Etrata

      You can still read it on the mobile edition.

      • DonDraper

        Ok, but its not on the actual site, and XXL owes it to us to tell us why.

    • http://twitter.com/DLloyd24 D-Lloyd

      THEY TOOK IT DOWN BECAUSE THEY ARE PUSSY AND SCARE OF LIL WAYNE’S CREW! I THINK THAT IANAHB 2 DESERVED A “S” INSTEAD OF A “M”!!!!!!

    • 2012Industry1

      Agreed! Wondered the same thing. If it was hot and near classic, they would have been raving about it! That’s not helping the talk of poel saying YMCMB has favoritism in this mag!

  • J.R.

    i’m glad XXL are started to realistically review albums, not every mediocre effort should receive a L grade.

  • jm

    good review…perfect rating

  • Lebron

    At least they got this one right. How about that I Am Not a Human Being II review? Hahahahahaha!

  • Gshyt

    yea tyga the man but he need to change it up a bit the same shit gets old after awhile

  • Starvelous

    Et least you’ve done this right compared to “Wolf” which deserved an XL –’…

  • JohnPaul8731

    Thanks you XXL for giving the album M. I checked the album out, had a few tracks i liked but most were just hard to listen to. The subject matter is still the same & damn near all the beats sound kinda like “Rack City”. I just feel like YMCMB rushed this album. I hate he used 2pac verse. I feel a certain type of way about that.

  • sandman1786

    This is tyga’s style of rappin you dont like it dont listen to it, he is 23 year old livin in cali what do you guys expect. it goes with the scene. xxl gave a legit review it is surprising I guess there changing the way they do things…