Courtesy of Fader Magazine

If YG does anything well… it’s rebellion. As an artist who is well known for his outspoken and uncensored points of view, his new album “Still Brazy” let that same untamed spirit run wild in all its glory and then some. “Still Brazy” supplied listeners with enough fire to heat the whole summer of 2016.

YG is recognized by some as one of the last few lifelines of the genre known as “gangsta rap” and the speculation about his importance to that genre was put to rest for even more fans upon hearing Still Brazy. Being as rap music as a whole has evolved and gone on to breed many different sub-categories, true tales of life and struggles faced in the hood are more scarce. Though the up and coming sub categories keep hip-hop music enticing to new listeners, they don’t always resemble the true west coast roots of hip-hop. “Still Brazy” represents a nice balance of the new elements hip-hop music offers, along with the valued elements of the past.

The album delivered on many levels, one being that it showed fans YG’s growth as an artist is still evolving and improving though he has stayed very consistent in his sound throughout the course of his career. YG gave fans the ever-present high energy bangers that comprise his personal brand while spreading awareness on real social issues, which is something that he didn’t do as much on his first album, “My Krazy Life.”

One major highlight of the album is the way YG makes such powerful points about the racial discrimination he personally faces but somehow manages to be inclusive of people from all racial backgrounds and walks of life. One example of this can be found on the track “Blacks and Browns” as he speaks on injustice faced in the black community. Then the track goes on to feature Chicano rapper Sadboy Loko who discusses issues faced in his community. They find common ground in discussing their problems with police brutality and the unfair bias of society that they both face even though they are representing different races.

You explored my country but can’t accept my people
But who you want to run your business? My people
My flag is green white, red, in the center’s an eagle
Brown Pride, fist high, this is for my illegals — Sadboy Loko ‘Blacks and Browns’

There is an underlying message of unity despite race in many instances all throughout this album. Another example can be found in the controversial track “FDT.” YG makes his feelings on Donald Trump very clear on this song and shamelessly lets people know the severity of the damage Trump could do as president. “FDT” once again touches on how Americans should stick together and support each other despite personal differences. The outspoken and bold energy behind the track is unparalleled.

YG’s not shy to share his opinions in the most raw and unfiltered manner possible, which makes his words so sharp and effective to listeners. Though YG has always been very open in using his personal life experiences to influence his music, this album featured a particularly deep level of sharing as he touched on the shooting that he survived last year. He speaks on the shooting in a very transparent manner on the track “Who Shot Me?” as he recalls the incident and recollects all the possible actions he took that could have got him to the point of injury. This song sets a theme of uncertainty in the mind of YG that can be detected throughout many other songs on the album as he questions his friendships and perceived enemies.

After all the wicked shit I did
I knew karma was gon catch up with a nigga
Damn, I ain’t know it was gon’ happen like this
Some nigga really tried to set me up
I know shit get wicked in the street sometimes
Like I said “You never know when it might brack off”
But I guess God has some other plans for me
Cause that shit ain’t stop me — YG ‘Who Shot Me’

While it’s apparent that this album had a deep agenda and messages to spread under the surface, let’s not forget about the bangers that can be found on the track-list as well. High energy tracks like “Why You Always Hatin” and “Twist my Fingaz” have truly been some of the best go-to songs of Summer ’16 since their release earlier in the season as singles. Not many artists in the game at the moment can supply the type of bass-infested, contagious turn up anthems that YG offers.

It’s clear that YG has a working formula that never disappoints fans, and though his beats and overall sound haven’t made any major growth from his previous album they still aid his sound and words in the most perfect and necessary manner possible. Stitches of YG’s code of honor run through the whole album and strong themes like loyalty, respect, and hustle comprise the backbone of his message.

The rebellious anti-authority sounds of “Still Brazy” truly set the summer off to a great start in the world of hip-hop. The heartbeat of the west-coast hip-hop scene can be felt pumping in the bass of every track of this album.

Grade: A-

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