Tyga’s an artist that has recently spent more time in the spotlight for his non-musical exploits, specifically his highly publicized relationships, but that doesn’t mean that he’s abandoned what got him to that place of fame in the first place. BitchImTheShit2, the last album released by Tyga, who has been a fairly prolific rapper for the past five years, was rather underwhelming, both critically and commercially. With Kyoto, he appears to be attempting a bit of a reinvention as an artist. As a whole, the album is quite light on features. Only Gucci Mane, Tory Lanez, 24Hrs and Kyndall make appearances. This largely solo project allows Tyga to undertake, for the most part, a new style without having to accommodate the preferences of a variety of other artists. Kyoto is mainly focused around Tyga’s switch from more traditional hip-hop to lyrical singing. In fact, Tyga himself labelled Kyoto as his “singing album.” Overall, it’s a reasonably successful move, as it injects a welcome feeling of variety into the album, even though other aspects of the work stumble at different points.
The progression of the songs in the album can really only be described as slightly haphazard. For example, Tyga follows up “Boss Up,” a bouncy, self-aggrandizing song, with “U Cry,” which is easily the slowest and most introspective song on the album. These transitions occur at multiple times throughout the album, resulting in a jarring marathon listening experience.
One of the more polarizing aspects of the album is the lyrics. Some people might find them pretty funny, but many others would justly point them out as being meandering, inconclusive, and, at times, plain stupid. Some standouts include “I lost my watch and I still found time,” “Get mixed up with me, that’s the perfect mixture,” and “When you cry, I cry, we cry, together.” These repetitive lines are not something new in the realm of hip-hop (have a listen to the masterpiece that is “Gucci Gang”), but they seem to take on another level of lyrical awkwardness when they are crooned out in Tyga’s blatantly autotuned voice.
Tyga’s singing deserves its own section. More than many other albums, Kyoto really takes on the character of his voice. The production is designed around complementing his dulcet tones, making many of the songs unique blends of a variety of genres. “Leather in the Rain” featuring Kyndall is a good example, as it makes a smooth transition from a bright hook into what can only be described as an EDM drop. This variety, however, is what provides the album its brightest spark. Often with hip-hop albums, it can almost become hard to tell when one song ends and another beings. A beat is changed here, or some new 808s are added there, but overall, the work is nearly identical. Kyoto does not suffer from this problem. The songs are all distinct, which is even more impressive considering the relative scarcity of features.
Listener engagement is another strength of the album. While not on the level of something like “One Dance” by Drake, there are definitely multiple catchy hooks, and by coupling them with bright, forward-moving rhythms, Tyga creates an album that the majority will have no problem engaging in. It’s a nice change of pace from the more low-key, depression-laden, self-deprecating feelings that have been seen in the industry recently.
Tyga must be commended for the variety of songs on display in this album, especially due to the relative lack of features. It speaks not only to his own talent, but also to his willingness to branch out into areas that are likely out of his comfort zone. This move has resulted in a largely successful experiment. It’s certainly not perfect, however, as his lyrics still lack some basic poeticism and not all of the songs mesh together very well. None of this detracts strongly from the overall work. Today, rappers are being touted as “all-in-one” packages—artists that are able to write, engineer, and produce their own songs. With this album, Tyga has seemingly widened that skill set even further to include possessing skill and knowledge in different genres.
Featured Image by Empire Records