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A blog for Seattle music lovers of all stripes, from hip-hop and indie rock to jazz and world music.

May 17, 2014 at 5:09 PM

L.A. ratchet rap phenom YG plays the Neptune | Concert preview

LA rapper YG (it stands for Young Gangsta) first emerged with his breakout radio hit “Toot It and Boot It” in 2010. Four years later, he and his Pu$haz Ink crew — namely DJ Mustard and Ty Dolla $ign — are at the forefront of one of the most popular, widespread waves of modern street rap. It’s a sound that many have dubbed “ratchet music” — a bouncy, heavy-yet-minimal sound that’s rooted in Los Angeles’ gang culture thematically and in mid-‘00s Bay Area “hyphy” rap sound-wise, but geared more for the club than the corner.

He and DJ Mustard will bring it to The Neptune on Sunday, May 18, on a tour supporting his official debut full-length My Krazy Life

“My Krazy Life,” released this March on Def Jam, is a full realization of this new West Coast sound that buries context amid the party-friendly beats in the form of interludes and deceptively pertinent lyrics. The interludes, featuring his actual family and friends, form a cohesive day-in-the-life narrative in the same way that fellow Compton-ite Kendrick Lamar’s Good Kid, m.A.A.d. City did. The album’s intro is nothing more than YG’s mother yelling his full name, and saying “I hope you ain’t outside hangin’ with them gangbangers! You gonna end up in…jail like your damn daddy!” A skit introducing home invasion narrative “Meet the Flockers” plays out what could’ve been the actual events leading to his 2009 incarceration for burglary. And while some purists may be quick to dismiss YG’s lyrics as cliché, low-brow reiterations of tired rap tropes, his point of view is colored (red, specifically, as he’s a Tree Top Piru Blood) by previous generations of his area’s gang culture and all the other factors that came along with it.

Opening track “BPT” details everything from YG’s block and gang initiation to his connections with other rappers from LA sets and time spent in jail (without snitching), and ends with him confessing “My whole family tried to save me but it didn’t work/Momma know I’ve been bangin’ lately.”

“Really Be (Smokin N Drinkin)” sounds like it could be an ode to weed and liquor, but it actually details the reasons behind his own substance abuse, and the fact that its more to forget than to have fun. “I might be homeless/My moms don’t got a job, my pops checks ain’t enough/If I ain’t bringin home that money, my whole family is [screwed],” he explains. “I ride around with my gun, this is not for fun/I stay protected cuz my homie just took one to the lung,” he adds.

Yet despite these heavy themes, almost every beat on the record features enough trunk-shaking bass hits and dramatic synth stabs to make it sound like it’s a party-starting club banger. YG’s songs are the ones getting people out on dancefloors and getting cranked on car stereos, and from the looks of it, “My Krazy Life” is set to be one of the best albums of the summer.

9 p.m. Sun. May 18 at The Neptune Theatre, 1303 NE 45th St., Seattle; All Ages, $25 (1-877-784-4849 or stgpresents.org)

Comments | More in R & B/Hip-hop | Topics: Neptune, Ratchet, YG

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