Gangster rap. What’s not to love? YG (Young Gangsta) cranks out a surprisingly layered album in Still Brazy. Catchy beats reminiscent of Snoop Dogg and George Clinton and the Parliament Funkadelic lay the foundation for classic rap topics:
Protecting Your Turf
In YG’s first track “Don’t Come to L.A.” visiting rappers are forewarned that posers will be exposed and robbed. If you think your celebrity status will save you…think again. Bricc Baby collaborates on this track with an insightful rhyme about the limitation of status:
“You walk around like you can’t get touched
But JFK was a president and still got his @$$ bust”
YG may be dressed like “Where’s Waldo” on his album cover (you can too), but I don’t think he’s someone you want to sneak up on unless you’re already pals.
Mo Money Mo Problems
Rap stardom hasn’t erased your problems, only introduced new headaches to handle. Now that your rich everybody wants your money, “Gimmie Got Shot” is YG’s rebuttal to this thinking. Nobody helped YG climb the ladder of fame and money grubbers are never satisfied with a free lunch; they always want more. What’s the solution? Blast ’em to smithereens. “Gimmie Got Shot” utilizes female back up singers chanting ‘gimmie gimmie’ which adds texture to the track and hints that these sentiments are mostly in jest.
If they don’t want your money, they hate you for having it. “Why You Always Hatin?” is possibly the most polite track asking repeatedly, “Please, please tell me why you always hatin’?” It’s simple and catchy making it the most radio friendly song on the project. We don’t know why haters hate but we know they will be waiting for you at the club. In “Twist My Fingaz” YG laments that he can’t dance at the club without haters waiting to fight him outside. The only solution – keep dancing YG, dance the night away.
With all that money and haters lurking behind every corner, paranoia sets in and precautions must be taken. “Still Brazy” outlines YG’s new security measures and coping mechanisms to deal with the stress of celebrity.
“Paranoia got this Henny in my kidney
Cause I don’t know if they’re with me or against me
They always said this was how it’s gon’ be
But me… I ain’t wanna believe
They don’t wanna see a nigga with the green
The reason for the 40 cal with the beam
The devil’s on me, got me trippin’
I used to party out with Scotty like Pippen”
Laser sighted rifles, answering the door with a gun, liquid courage and no more wild parties at the crib helps provide some peace of mind. With these tactics in place we still have a glaring security problem – who shot YG? The aptly named “Who Shot Me?” is dedicated to exploring potential perpetrators. Since the clues are inconclusive, we can’t trust anybody – full blown paranoia ensues.
There’s no mincing words with “FDT”, YG curses Donald Trump’s political aspirations (this was released before November 2016 elections) and would even unite the forces of bloods and crips to derail Donald. The hatred is solely aimed at Trump and YG explains he’s not the only one pitted against the real estate tycoon.
“I like white folks, but I don’t like you
All the niggas in the hood wanna fight you
Surprised El Chapo ain’t tried to snipe you
Surprised the Nation of Islam ain’t tried to find you
Don’t let Donald Trump win, that nigga cancer
He too rich, he ain’t got the answers
He can’t make decisions for this country, he gon’ crash us
No, we can’t be a slave for him
He got me appreciating Obama way more
Hey Donald, and everyone that follows
You gave us your reason to be President, but we hate yours “
Many media detractors expressed the same concerns: Trump’s wealth insults him from understanding America’s problems. He’s anti Mexicans because he want’s to build a wall and Trump has no political experience. “FDT” was the anthem for anti-Trump Americans who felt unheard and marginalized.
Trump isn’t the only authority to rebel against, the police can’t be trusted either. A flurry of highly scrutinized police shootings motivated “Police Get Away Wit Murder” which expresses the frustration of young black men trying to protect themselves on the streets.
“But if they catch you with the strap and you black, it’s a wrap
Two years with half, that’s what the judge give em
I’m psyched out cause I’m already striped out
But if I get caught without one (then my lights out)
They give us years for guns and we can buy em off the shelf
But you’ll get life in the coffin if you don’t protect yourself”
If you carry a gun for protection and run into the police you’ll wind up in jail. If you don’t carry a gun you’ll get shot by a rival gang member. As the rap suggests it’s better to risk jail time than eternity in a casket. The only other option is to stay inside, which “Blacks & Browns” suggests.
The music is upbeat, guest rappers are sprinkled in, back up singers and even YG’s different voices make for a playful vibe. You may be wondering what “Brazy” even means. Well let me explain: Since YG affiliates with the notorious street gang “bloods”, they like to switch the C’s to B’s: ‘Compton’ turns into ‘Bompton’, ‘Crazy’ turns into ‘Brazy’ and so on. Breative indeed! “Bool, Balm, and Bollective” utilizes this secret code. This is what I love about rap, bending the English language until it is almost unrecognizable – creating a club for the initiated. This also alienates, but we don’t want starchy tightwads in this blan.
With all music I see two major distinctions: content and musical quality. It’s gangster rap, there are prolific profanities, self-aggrandizement, thievin’ and murderin’, smokn’ and drinkin’ and rebellion against all authority. These are not the tenets of Christ. Listen with a wary ear, YG is on the path to destruction. Let’s compare watching a movie about bank robbing to listening to gangster rap. I don’t watch The Italian Job because I’m planning on robbing a bank with a Mini Cooper; it’s simply an interesting story to watch. The same goes for Still Brazy, I’m not interested in dealing drugs or mugging people, but it is interesting to hear these stories. If you indulge in gangster rap, Still Brazy delivers compelling stories with great beats underneath.