Review: YG, ‘Stay Dangerous’

YG steers and crashes out his lane on his most uninspired album to date.

It didn’t take long for Bompton’s YG to master his niche. His 2014 debut My Krazy Life renewed the virtually-extinct West Coast G-funk sound (introduced and popularised by Dr. Dre and co.), arguably delivering the only classic gangsta rap album of the decade. From ratchet rap to storytelling soliloquies, YG had it covered, bringing the latter on his impressive sophomore album, Still Brazy. Two years on, YG must battle between staying relevant and delivering a stellar third album.

On Stay Dangerous, YG feels like the detached cool kid who’s finally decided to fit in with the crowd. For the majority of the album, YG opts to capitalise on the current trap wave rather than fostering the G-funk lane he so uniquely inhabits. Without the usual street narratives of My Krazy Life and Still Brazy, YG fails to offer anything interesting to say, nor does the stale production from DJ Mustard do the content any justice.

After a satisfying intro (“10 Times”), YG blends into the generic trap production that any rapper could have rapped on. It doesn’t take long to get to the most obnoxious song on the album, “Handgun”, featuring a dry flow and laughable hook by YG. The track is nearly saved by a satisfying verse by ASAP Rocky, though is not enough to distract one from the grim listen.

The repetitive trap flows continue all across Stay Dangerous, especially on “Can’t Get in Kanada”, which had the conceptual potential to be an enjoyable song. It’s no surprise there are guest appearances from the likes of Quavo (“Slay”), who joins YG to accentuate the trap monotony.

It is only halfway through the album where YG begins to feel at home again. The three-track string of “Too Cocky”, “Big Bank” and “Power” – all produced by DJ Mustard – employ production YG is comfortable on, guiding Stay Dangerous to improved hooks and melodies. These tracks only pick up the pace slightly before returning to the album’s mundane traits.

Thankfully, the latter segment of Stay Dangerous revives the Still Brazy stamp. “Pussy Money Fame” and “Deeper Than Rap” feature the signature muddy bass YG usually occupies, matching the dark yet cosy beats with lyrics of vices and family. The album ends on a sombre note with “Bomptown Finest”, seeing YG rap over a guitar melody that is not suited to YG’s typical production but works regardless. It leaves a bizarre taste to end off Stay Dangerous, transforming into an entirely different album in contrast to the former half.

It appears as if YG’s hit a dead end with Stay Dangerous. When outside his pocket, YG isn’t able to form anything that can be classified as original. Stay Dangerous is a dangerous misstep in the wrong direction, void of any identity and focus. If YG wants to move forward, he must move a step back first.

Rating: 5 / 10

Best tracks: “Deeper Than Rap”, “Pussy Money Fame”