Long a promising talent on the deep YMCMB roster, Compton-bred Tyga finally came into his own last year when paired with another Southern California native, producer DJ Mustard. Their resulting product, “Rack City,” became a runaway hit. Tyga’s raunchy rhymes, a nod to label boss Lil Wayne, somehow still managed to win over mainstream fans and make Tyga practically a household name. However, while the young rapper became a pop star, he still carried himself as an emcee through his Careless World: Rise of the Last King album (he had a collaboration with Nas) and especially on Game’s song “Celebration,” where he more than held his own.
On his latest release out this week, the aptly titled Hotel California, Tyga attempts to carry on with the “Rack City momentum.” Unfortunately, the album is an uneven and compromising effort that will likely fail to appease both the teeny-bop fans and the hip-hop purists who have been willing to give Tyga a chance (let’s recall the rapper was in the Rock the Bells festival line-up last year, sharing the stage with hip-hop legends Bone Thugs-N-Harmony and Nas).
Hotel California opens with the high-energy “500 Degreez,” which qualifies as ‘turnt up’ music (read: for the clubs), but any discerning listener will find it formulaic and predictable. The beat is virtually a carbon copy of instrumentals found on dozens of mixtapes floating around the Internet. One would expect more from a full-length album from an emerging star. Speaking of stars, Maybach Music Group head honcho’s vocals make “Dope” above average – while the topic and rhymes are mediocre and the beat sounds even more cookie-cutter. On “Hit ‘Em Up,” Jadakiss simply out-goons Tyga.
The unevenness of the project continues with “Diss Song,” which finds Tyga dissing no one in particular yet features a stirring guitar riff that would lend itself to a better topic, which apparently isn’t of interest to Tyga. “For The Road” is a nice attempt at a love song, and Chris Brown delivers a great chorus, but Tyga once again spews generic lyrics and misguidedly recites Tupac’s lines from “Dear Mama.” The Future-assisted “Show You” is almost a sequel to “For The Road” and is rather forgettable.
The few bright spots on Hotel California are those moments that actually point the listener to the album’s theme. Tyga almost can’t go wrong with “It Neva Rains,” the Tony! Toni! Toné!–sampling feel-good cut peppered with contemporary SoCal references (Secret Sundayz), while a verse from Game completes a vibrantly vulgar Compton party track. On “Palm Trees,” Tyga showcases his range, being able to switch from gangsta rap to more lite fare, as the track sounds like it belongs on a Pac Div album. Tyga shows a great deal of promise on these brighter moments.
Unfortunately, by the time the record gets on focus, it’s a little too late. Hotel California is uneven and doesn’t stick to the theme, falling into traps set up by Tyga’s propensity to continue with the “Rack City” sound instead of crafting a solid record that shows his growth as an artist.