When’s the last time you read a hip-hop review that starts off with a Bob Dylan quote? I hope I can be your first. I’ll be gentle: “The first one now, will later be the last, for the times they are a changing.” You f**kin said it Bob. Hip-hop has been rapidly changing over the past decade, leading some to confuse change for death, but the new have always buried the old. Although old-school heads may long for the days of rhymes about their Adidas, a new school of artists is poised to transform the …
DJBooth Album Review
If you’re looking for the definition of a new school artist look no further than Tyga. The heavily tattooed teenager has been building some considerable buzz for himself, eventually catching the ear of Mr. Weezy F. Baby and signing to Young Money Records. Now the Los Angeles native is attempting to invade your eardrums and wallets with the release of his debut album, No Introduction. The album title can be read two ways: either he needs no introduction, or he’s appeared so quickly that no one knows who he is; either way it’s a good bet that by this time next year he truly will need no introduction. It’s that new school s**t homeboy, get on board or get out the way.
The new school artist isn’t afraid to blend genres and styles into unexpected new combinations. Coming from a blended background himself (Jamaican and Vietnamese) it’s only natural that Tyga would be stylistically diverse. No Introduction’s experimentation can most accurately be described as a mix between hip-hop and emo rock (the purists out there just threw up in their mouths). It’s a sound the MTV crowd will eat up. Just take Don’t Regret It Now, a track that alternates between minimalist synth verses and a light rock styled chorus, thanks to vocals courtesy of Fall Out Boy’s Patrick Stump. It would be easy to dismiss Don’t Regret It Now as a marketing scheme, if it weren’t for Tyga’s surprisingly deep lyrics. We’re talking about a song whose opening line is, “what if your mother, regretted having your brother?” It isn’t the second coming of Nas, but Tyga deserves credit for pushing his pen beyond the usual teen boundaries. Unfortunately things don’t work nearly so well on Diamond Life, a cut that amps up the volume with percussively banging production and hard-hitting synths. As lyrically admirable as Tyga can be, it’s his voice itself that needs the most maturation. His conversationally-styled flow works perfectly on slower tracks, but Tyga’s voice simply isn’t strong enough to rise above the louder production. Either he needs to learn to be more vocally aggressive or just stop trying to make bangers. Luckily he’s young, he’s got room to grow.
The new school artist knows how to diversify their portfolio. While the rappers of the past focused on, well, their rapping, the new generation knows they better starting selling Vitamin Waters and ringtones. Just take Coconut Juice, the lead single off No Introduction. This is more of what I expect from a teenager – disposable party jams that live or die on the catchiness of the hook. It doesn’t help that the 19-year-old Tyga has to indirectly refer to alcohol; if the song was “take the lime and the Patron and twist it on up” it’d be a party anthem, as it is it sounds more like a smoothie commercial. Speaking of which, he’s also conveniently pushing his own brand of coconut juice. It may make financial sense for Tyga to be about more than “just the music”, but when I go to a restaurant I want the chef to be all about the food, and when I listen to music I want the artist to be all about the music. If that makes me old-school then so be it. Plus he sounds eerily like Sean Kingston on the opening. Still, for every Coconut Juice on No Introduction there’s a lyrically clever song like Cartoonz, or a personally introspective track like 2 AM. That complexity means that like it or not, artists like Tyga are the future. You don’t have to love it, but I would recommend you refrain from hating it. Those who hate the future get left behind.
DJBooth Rating - 3 Spins
Written by Nathan S. on 06/5/08
First DJ Booth Appearance:
"Coconut Juice ft. Travis McCoy" (2008)
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