The struggle of seeing this album come to fruition has been no secret, as Tyga’s very public battle with Young Money has been all over the media over the last year. However, it’s safe to say no one was expecting the Last Kings rapper to unleash The Gold Album: 18th Dynasty out of nowhere last week. As Tyga’s fourth solo studio album, the project marks a milestone of longevity in the rap game for T-Rawww and also ushers in an era of growth and change as Tyga enters the period in any rapper's career where they must evolve in order to stay relevant. It's clear he feels that pressure here.

With the introduction, “Spitfire,” Tyga immediately sports a new strand of courage, boldly stating his plans to stay afloat in the rap game. It’s clear, not only by the title of the first song but also the tone, that he's attempting to focus on lyricism with his latest effort. By the second track, with Tyga backed by a rough xylophone-soaked beat, it's obvious this album is going in an extremely different direction sonically, as well. By track three Tyga finally stumbles upon a highlight on the album, “Shaka Zulu,” where he's able to concoct a formula that asserts his sharper lyrics in a way that feels more cohesive, grabbing control for the first time on the LP. Regardless of the project as a whole, it's clear Tyga has been steadily raising the bar from the monotone repetitiveness of a club banger like 2011's "Rack City."

By the direction alone, it’s obvious that executive producer Kanye West had a great impact on the album. The man many refer to as Ye’s partner in crime, Mike Dean, who has produced on basically every Kanye album released since 2007, also offered his input, producing five out of the 12 tracks on The Gold Album. Tyga also links back up with frequent collaborator Jess Jackson—who alongside Yeezy and Dean is credited as an executive producer—in an effort to not totally abandon the California sound on which he’s built his career. Jackson’s presence is an attempt to cater somewhat to the expectations of Tyga’s diehard fans and can be found on every track on the LP, from top to bottom.

It’s refreshing to see that Lil Wayne is featured on “4 My Dawgs,” another highlight on the album, which seems to mean that Tyga and Weezy are not only on good terms but that they can also still serve up solid material regardless of the YMCMB drama. (The two high-profile MCs both have beef with the label, though they don't use the opportunity to address it here.) Lil Wayne does, however, spit “Fuck you, pay me,” which can't be disconnected from the lengthy legal battle between Birdman and Wayne, particularly in context. Boosie BadAzz appears on “Pleazer,” a track that raised eyebrows as much as anything else for its racy lyrics and the fact that Tyga has been repeatedly blustering in the press about his relationship with 17-year-old Kardashian sister Kylie Jenner in recent months. Regardless of the lyrical content, he's bailed out by the fact that the song is one of the bigger highlights on the album; Boosie has been in electric form since his release from prison 16 months ago and he doesn't slow down here.

If you’re expecting the club anthem king that we’ve all grown to know over the past half-decade, then Tyga’s fourth studio album isn’t for you. This album solidifies that the Last Kings rapper has both feet currently planted in his own controversial reality. There’s an edginess here that cannot be found on previous albums and is more reminiscent of material on some of his earlier mixtapes. The concept strays so far away from what fans have grown to expect from Tyga that it’s hard to call if it’s a hit or a miss; it's jarring more than anything else. Tyga has served up a solid effort with The Gold Album: 18th Dynasty, exploring new territory and pushing himself in a different direction than he'd gone during his ratchet past work. It's just not necessarily a better one. —Miranda J