With two full-length albums and one global hit under his belt, Young Money’s Tyga finds himself at the crossroad of his promising music career. With his independent debut album No Introduction, the Los Angeles native garnered an impressive buzz with a strong international following. Fueled with the hype surround his following Fan to Fan initiative with Chris Brown, T-Raw was further catapulted him to an even broader audience. Consequently, things were at higher stake for his second studio album Careless World: Rise of the Last King in 2012. Accordingly, he placed a higher focus on his rapping skills and a more mature content this time around. However, Tyga couldn’t escape his mass appeal as the album’s third single “Rack City” became an instant hit and achieved global club dominance. Late last year, he stated his goal is to make “smarter records, collaborating with the right young artists, who I can relate to.”
Hence, his new album Hotel California has the demanding task to couple lyrical substance with rhythmic, pop-infused sounds. The thematic background for this challenge? A declaration of love and loyalty towards Tyga’s home state of California. Conceptually speaking, the long-player is in full accordance with its title. It is a modern-day stylistic approach to the sample-heavy Westcoast-rap, shaped and influenced by legendary LA-artists such as Dr. Dre, Snoop Dogg and Warren G. Sonically, Tyga doesn’t change his winning formula as he lays down his rhymes over the work of contributing producers such as DJ Mustard, Lil C and S-X.
Arguably the best indicator for the album’s direction is “Hit’Em Up” featuring Jadakiss, and *drumroll* the late and great Tupac Shakur himself. Facing an initial uproar within the hip-hop scene, the song was not a remake of Tupac’s classic record, but an original composition which stemmed from a handful of unreleased vocals by the late and great icon. Displaying a great deal of confidence over a inflicting Mustard instrumental, the 21-year-old holds his own aligning his rhymes right next to one of most powerful voices in Hip Hop history. Further album guests encompass Young Money comapdre Lil Wayne, with whom he exchanges heated verses on “500 Degrees” reminiscent of Weezy’s old Cash Money days 2 Chainz, Chris Brown, The Game, Nicki Minaj, Future and Rick Ross. It is T-Raw’s collaboration with Ricky Rozay, “Dope,” where he enhances his “ball till you fall, no matter what”-credo. You can virtually hear both gentlemen’s minks being dragged on the floor while operating in shady business. Album tracks like “Drive Fast, Live Young” or the Wiz Khalifa-assisted “M.O.E (Money Over Everything)” further nourish this larger than life-persona. With an album like Hotel California, one is not to forget the opposite sex neither. Tracks like “Fuck for the Road” featuring Chris Brown and “Show You” with Future cater Tyga’s strong female fanbase with soft spoken rhymes and mellow R&B sounds.
Despite numerous push backs and delays, Hotel California marks Tyga’s most solid effort to date. It is the rapper’s logical evolution after a successful run with his two previous releases and numerous mixtape releases. He succeeds in elevating his flow and rhyme structure while staying loyal to his club-orientated sound. It would have not hurt to find a broader palette of subjects and themes on this record, but it is an honest cohesive and entertaining effort that affirms Tyga’s musical ability, without forgetting where he came from. Tyga’s coming of age so to speak.