YG Pays Homage To West Coast Masterpieces On ‘My Krazy Life’
“My Hitta” is pretty specific for a Billboard Top 20 hit. To hang with YG and co., it’s a requirement that you don’t trip over potential romantic interests, be averse to snitching, be willing to catch a case when necessary, and just be about getting money. Specific stuff, but the funkified modernization of “I Got 5 On It” still skirts ubiquity. At the core of the blunt gangsterisms lies a straightforward ode to camaraderie — a trait welcomed in any setting. “My Hitta” is still the best song on My Krazy Life, but part of the reason it succeeds represents why the project as a whole is a solid effort. It represents Compton recklessness to the fullest, but that sensibility never comes in the way of relating basic thrills, resulting in an instantly gratifying reward.
YG has said West Coast masterpieces Doggystyle and The Chronic were influences that went into My Krazy Life. There are traces of their DNA sonically as producers DJ Mustard, Ty Dolla $ign, and Terrace Martin inject strands of G-Funk throughout the bouncy backdrop (the New Jack Swing referencing “Do It To Ya” begs a mention, too). YG wisely isn’t seeking to replicate the West Coast kings. As groundbreaking as they are, what makes the aforementioned classics into enjoyable listens instead of hip-hop homework is the sense of youthful now-ness. YG draws from his sages’ (especially Doggystyle’s) calloused rebelliousness and desire to kickstart a backyard party or two. My Krazy Life doesn’t aim for acclaimed and revere as much as it does for booty shakes and head nods.
The Compton rapper even throws in a storyline for good measure to tie together My Krazy Life. Told with the help of skits, the debut follows YG as he listens to his mother warn he’ll “end up in motherfucking jail like [his] damn daddy.” He doesn’t think twice about carrying along with his day as he gets initiated to the gang, navigates complicated sexual politics with his penis, and gets involved in a variety of unsavory activities before he meets the fate depicted on the album cover. That’s it. While it shares a similar, less lucid version of good kid, m.A.A.d city’s storytelling, this ain’t a bildungsroman. That’s just fine since My Krazy Life does make a solid argument about self-realization being overrated.
Why force a coming-of-age plotline when the need to just have a simple good time is strong enough to temporarily resolve gang rivalry, like it does on “I Just Wanna Party?” Former Crip ScHoolboy Q finds himself comfortable enough with two (former?) Blood members to do a little chest bumping (“I can sell a key to God!”). The not-so-cryptically coded “Bicken Back Being Bool” features YG two-stepping across DJ Mustard’s starry keys. Not even the gun-toting and the robbery skit that ends the song negates its accessibility. “I don’t play that shit / Wifey like Sega, I don’t play that bitch.” Dreamcast fans are a minor casualty for the song’s infectious shimmy. Kendrick Lamar’s appearance later on in “Really Be (Smokin N Drinkin)” provides My Krazy Life with a dose of humanity by finding respite from life’s stresses through alcohol.
As good as My Krazy Life is, it lacks imagination. There’s no desire to transcend West Coast inner-city values, and YG does traverse the hyphy and nighttime sounds with aplomb. But the thrills do have a comedown at some point. For the album as a whole, it’s the potentially ephemeral replay value because of its on-the-nose focus on 20-somethings mayhem. Within the tracklist, it’s the back-to-back sexual combo of “Do It To Ya” and “Me & My Bitch” — a schmaltzy break given what comes before it. DJ Mustard consistently delivers animated production, but it often runs the risk of being monochromatic when it’s not swinging for the fences on moments like the nocturnal urgency of “Who Do You Love” — which is buoyed by Drake’s serviceable verse.
My Krazy Life closes with YG sending his regards to his mother on “Sorry Momma.” The apology doesn’t feel as believable (it sounds more like “I’m sorry I got caught”) given how quickly the plotline suddenly resolves itself with a trip to jail. This is only in context, however; when played by itself, the sincerity of lines like, “Sorry momma, I know I ain’t shit” isn’t lost on the listener. There isn’t full redemption by the end of the story, but at least you get the sense things will be quite all right with a model and some dark liquor. It’s a small victory, but a victory nonetheless.—Brian Josephs