If YL had a superpower all of it would run through his Yankee fitted. His voice, presence, confidence, even slick frustration is so New York that Adrianna (the first bonus cut on his new album It Never Entered My Mind) is the quintessential YL song FOR ME. My brain always hears YL rapping over fragments from A Bronx Tale soundtrack, light piano melodies or sampled strings, finally on Adrianna the hallucination becomes real. Over the Doo-Wop loop he spits “I came back for the whole thing, cops came we don’t know a thing. I ain’t know that it was over till I felt a ring. Big pain not givin’ up had to switch lanes.” For a minute and twenty three seconds it was all true! Some of this impression I have is the endless energy of YL over the best production in underground rap. On It Never Entered My Mind he has Argov, Roper Williams, and NoFace (handled seven out of seventeen tracks). All of them bring their best. Roper gives that resonant key twinkling piano that you can’t ever shake on Man On Fire. Argov has my favorite beat on Purple Haze where the loop is wound tight so that the soulful pace doesn’t slow our narrator’s stream of consciousness spitting. NoFace doesn’t even worry about a signature sound providing the right mood for all moments, giving headnock contemplative on Elisa Lam but when Fatboi Sharif shows up to build madness on Clickin he’s got something Onyx would have scared your parents with. He produces the first four songs in a row and you might not notice it’s the same person if the production credits aren’t in front of you, that’s a high compliment. He gives the project it’s spine without standing in the foreground.
YL’s real gift is in how he frames the rhymes. The pictures he creates around the rhyming words. At the end of a dizzying array of images on Slowpoke Rodriguez he spits “While you say I’m looking like cash dollas, grab an A & R by his colla tell him when you got something for me then you can really holla.” The rhyming words are dolla colla and holla which is cool but where are we in the story?! From bowler hats to Stacey Dash to shaking down executives his flow is an unstoppable generator painting over the world with his vision. His first few bars on Life On Earth (shout out to Jah Monte who crushes on this track) are “I be wildin’ but b’s still love me like I’m Ted Bundy. I got bread for when it’s rainy or sunny, it’s all love if you fronted me.” From sports references to haircuts to serial killers to real life situations and lessons learned it all mixes together and feels like a soundtrack for his life.
It’s why all the people featured on the album are just as addicted to rapping: check the discographies of Starker, Yungmorpheus, and Theravada who all smash features. If your not a workaholic for the culture you might not fit on a track with YL. He’s one of those punchers who never stops trying to out-land his opponent and through Seventeen tracks its too much for anyone to resist. If you have heard YL in places but never jumped in fully(or never heard of him), this is the album to put the headphones on and digest.