Despite the hoopla about the Young Money/Cash Money cometh signing everyone and their mothers to deals over the past couple years, it still feels like a three headed monster amidst a cacophony of mediocrity. Whether it’s Drake’s compelling identity crises, the million volt wattage of the Nicki Minaj show or Lil Wayne’s dope line lotto act, it’s been hard for any of their other artists to put together any sort of traction to rival the big 3 (random Birdman hits notwithstanding).
Over the past year or so, Compton artist Tyga has raised his profile and planted a flag as the sole member of a YMCMB “B team”. The aforementioned artists all have their endearing traits, and Tyga’s appeal is….still unclear. Tyga’s product is the exact median of the hip-hop universe, not humorously bad, if not humorous or any other emotion. He’s that friend that tweets himself in the studio, let’s you hear his product and while proud that he put something cogent together, you don’t ever expect it to pass his bandcamp..except Tyga’s music has with consistent airplay for his brand of competent mimicry.
Tyga’s rise is largely attributable to the rise of social media and image consciousness. He’s a photogenic, fashionable artist with connections to some of today’s biggest stars, and with that backdrop he’s presented us Hotel California, an album that resembles a hotel in that seemingly everyone has checked in but the owner.
From the outset, Tyga struggles to find his voice. Not literally, as he intently alternates imitating Drake’s brash twang and Wayne’s raspy tidal wave with a decidedly cubby growl. Conceptually speaking however, there is no identity shining through. The album can nearly be cut into sonic halves. One portion of the album is Tyga boasting emptily about being able to “buy” women and such over moody synthesizers and (seemingly the same) sharp 808 programming, while the other showcases paltry attempts at songwriting over airy, sugar coated compositions.
On “Diss Song” (which highlights a trend of the hooks being lazy repetitions of the song title), Tyga takes those who doubted his potential to task, but doesn’t manage to inject any personal quirks in what becomes a generic rags to riches narrative. On “For the Road” and “Show You” he wastes radio-ready hooks by Chris Brown and Future respectively with unfocused game-spitting that amounts to more empty braggadocio.
These trends pervade the album. Tyga barely seems interested in recording, much less writing a good song here. On album opener “500 degrees”, he and a sonically balky Lil Wayne trade bars over a moody arpeggio, and even in his lessened state Wayne manages to beat out Tyga’s unconvincing bars on delivery alone. Tyga doesn’t seem like he’s ready or capable of presenting anything past a marginal product to his social media base, so why should they listen when they can just blog him?