Mixtape Review-California Livin by YG x Blanco x DB Tha General produced by Cookin’ Soul
The success of the movie Straight Outta Compton is not just due to the heroism bestowed on N.W.A or the nostalgia we all feel for that exciting time in rap. While the movie stays away from the serious problems (Dr. Dre’s violent history with women) the rough edges are always at least partially visible. The movie owns the objectification of women that N.W.A. trafficked in. It owns that moment where Eazy-E is confused because only homosexuals get AIDS. The uncomfortably incomplete relationship those young men had with gender and sexuality is always a part of the journey for better and for worse.
In saluting that period of West Coast Rap YG, Blanco and DB Tha General put all of these themes on display again. Right from the DJ Drama introduction you can place the beat on Doggystyle. It’s an experience of déjà vu you will have over and over again (we even get the return of renowned fictional radio station WBallz). Driving Like I’m Loco pulls from The Chronic and Cookin’ Soul , the Spanish production team who produce the whole project, know exactly what they are doing by keeping their fingers pressed on your nostalgia button.
The cool thing about this mixture of MC’s is that they all have really weird voices. DB Tha General sounds like a cartoon character losing his mind, he has one gear and it’s the verbal whirlwind of the Tazmanian Devil. YG finally gets to sound the least weird because he does have gears and on Block Party (for example) he sounds cool , confident and in control.
Every song has a line that makes you shake your head and on Block Party its Blanco saying “I’m the bomb; Islamic.” On Mansion Party the first words of the first verse are “Whattup sluts?!” and it’s a bit much. I guess that is part of the journey, these three don’t see the sharp line that divides clever and awful and don’t have much interest in searching for it. They are just seizing fun however they can.
The strength of California Livin’ is that it acts as a sampler plate for these artists. It’s only thirty four minutes total (thirteen tracks with 4 interludes and an intro). It also doesn’t hurt getting a Fiend feature to go along with this weird voice combo platter. The G Thang track he appears on is pulsing and smooth perfect for the International Jones character to resurface for the chorus. Nipsey Hussle gives one hundred percent on LA Confidential. A track as snarling as LA Confidential with gunshot booms and 2pac looped is a wonderful environment for Nipsey. When he says “We don’t never say nothing about that big s—t we did we just see each other and nod and you know what it is” that’s about as West Coast conceptually as possible. Even the fun bravado songs are full of silent signals reflecting god knows what. As joyful as California Livin is its full of subtext about violence, gender, relationships and the nature of our nostalgia; it carries more with it then its length or tone would let on. If you loved Straight Outta Compton, this might be your companion piece.
stream or download California Livin below: