Within seconds of being introduced on “Hard Bottoms & White Socks,” the opening track on his fourth album, YG makes it abundantly clear where he stands. "Talkin' about the West Coast/I'm the face of it," he proclaims in no uncertain terms. Nodding back to predecessors like Dr. Dre and Snoop Dogg and giving due props to Kendrick Lamar and the tragically departed Nipsey Hussle, the Compton native proceeds to back up this bold claim credibly throughout the album, recalling the days when rap felt like a bicoastal struggle for dominance.
Reteaming once again with Mustard, the production mastermind behind several earlier hits, YG embraces an ultramodern version of his hometown hip-hop sound. Informed by the heralded G-Funk era but imbued with a contemporary slickness, “In The Dark” and the Pan-Latin trap of “Go Loko” speak volumes about how to preserve the spirit of California classics while pushing things forward. Less than a year after Stay Dangerous and its star-studded hit single “Big Bank,” he hasn’t lost any of that cocksure swagger, whether he’s celebrating the perks of celebrity status on “Bottle Service” or calling out the fakest of snakes on “Stop Snitchin.” Yet where he really proves himself is through less braggadocious moments like the sobering storytelling of “Keshia Had a Baby” and his heartfelt Nipsey tribute “My Last Words.”