15 Songs, 50 Minutes

EDITORS’ NOTES

An opus of LA gangsta rap from one of the city's torchbearers.

EDITORS’ NOTES

An opus of LA gangsta rap from one of the city's torchbearers.

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About YG

Tough, streetwise, but exuding a distinctly Southern California chill, YG is one of the most confident voices in 21st-century rap. Born Keenon Daequan Ray Jackson in 1990, the Compton MC—alongside L.A.-area producer DJ Mustard—helped bring regional sounds to national ears, blending vintage, stripped-down G-funk with bits of Bay Area hyphy in a way that allowed him (and Mustard, who’s gone on to make crossover hits for Tyga and Rihanna) to crash the mainstream without ever seeming beholden to it. (His first two albums, 2014’s My Krazy Life and 2016’s Still Brazy, went Top 10 on both Billboard's pop and rap charts.) Modeled after gangsta touchstones like Tupac Shakur and Snoop Dogg, Jackson’s style is remarkably fluid. He balances street vignettes (“1AM,” “Meet the Flockers”) with party fodder (“Who Do You Love?” and his breakout collaboration with Ty Dolla $ign, “Toot It and Boot It”) in a way that feels genuine and direct, tackling the darker sides of his life with sly humor and a stark lack of sentimentality. After he was shot in his studio in 2015—which he recounts on “Who Shot Me”—he went back to work recording the next day. “Was it hard to write about the situation? No, not at all,” he told Billboard, just weeks later. “I’ve been through real s**t and I still go through real s**t, and I made it in sticky situations and turned the negative into a positive.”

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