Music Reviews


(Def Jam Recordings) Rating - 6/10

On In the Dark, YG openly acknowledges the darkness that hangs over him. The Compton rapper alludes to the incidents surrounding his protege (and former gang rival) Nipsey Hussle, who just like him, got shot for unknown reasons but wasn't as fortunate to make it out alive. But rather than dwell, he carries his legacy forward by trying to prove that he's the face of West Coast gangsta rap—furthering the old-school, carefree flow of his nineties hometown influences with confidence and swagger.

Even at his most presumptuous, YG has learned to take it down a notch on his 4th album, 4REAL 4REAL. Contrary to the crude, trap-informed Stay Dangerous, he sounds less shaken by the shadow of his enemies. Back together with his confidant, beatmaker and producer Mustard, the vigorous Stop Snitchin is one of the only instances on the album where he's warning his rivals to drop the rap beef. Otherwise, YG takes it to basics with his "brazy" demeanor with mixed results—he invites Tyga and Puerto Rican trap pottymouth Jon Z to throw in some vulgar bars alongside some cheesy Spanish guitars and lazy mariachi trumpets on Go Loko, but what's most offensive is that it's just downright hairbrained and dull. Bottle Service fares much better, though, where YG brags about his celebrity perks over a slick beat reminiscent of the minimal hyphy-G-funk fusion of 2016's Still Brazy.

In 4REAL 4REAL, YG attempts to humanize his persona—albeit, with more money and influence—after flaunting his inflated self on Stay Dangerous. He still likes to put himself front and center—he sure sells himself and his fashion brand on Hard Bottoms and White Socks. But as the album progresses, YG passes the mic to female MC's Day Sulan and Kamaiyah for Her Story and Do Not Disturb, respectively, who both breathe some life into an otherwise smooth, if to some extent, second half where he tries to stretch his storytelling abilities. YG regains some of the energy that made his early output stand out, though all the new elements he brings into focus—from the spirited features to his tribute to Nipsey— feel tacked-on and half-hearted, well-intentioned but not well thought out.