Grief is a strange thing.
It’s not as aggressive as sadness, but it’s also not as insidious as depression. Grief doesn’t stop you from being happy or enjoying life, but it never lets you forget it’s there. Grief is kind of like an unchecked iOS update; no matter what you do, it’ll always remind you of its presence.
2 months ago we lost Nipsey Hussle, it sucked and it still does. For me personally, I felt like I lost a role model, but for YG, he lost a Friend, better yet, a Brother. That’s a feeling that takes time to really register. In every interview you can see YG trying his hardest to stay strong for himself and his family but it’s truly hard for him to accept the truth. The weirdest thing about life is that it doesn’t stop at these tragic moments. Things keep happening and the world keeps turning. In a way it’s comforting to know that life can continue after tragedy because if the world keeps going, so can you. As long as you keep moving forward, the Marathon will always continue.
The Marathon Continues
YG’s etched out a really good career for himself. To be 100 percent honest I can’t say that I assumed this is who he’d be after I heard “Toot It & Boot I.” It’s crazy how your breakout song may have nothing to do with the rest of your career. It makes me wonder if that’s been true through all of music. Like what if Mozart’s first Symphony was really like, an ode to his farts being funny? You never know where someone’s going to end up. I really didn’t expect to see YG wearing hard bottom shoes at every occasion with a scarf tied around his neck like high end thief in between Art Heists. Seriously YG dresses like he just robbed a Zara at gunpoint. While this wasn’t expected, his fashion sense correlates with his artistic style.
YG takes (safe) risks
No YG song is too similar - this is a dude who messes around with his flow, randomly harmonizes and switches his C’s with B’s at the drop of a hat. I get the vibe that YG really loves to make music, and 4REAL 4REAL is no exception to this. While the gray cloud of Nipsey’s passing sits over the album, YG tries his best to have fun on each song because that’s what Nip would’ve wanted. Seriously, who would’ve expected YG to have a song like “Go Loko?” This album is the equivalent of that one scene from You Got Served where Marcus Houston dances in the rain for Lil Saint. You can tell he’s in pain, but the only way he can express it is through the thing that brings him joy.
I’m not sure how I feel about the album yet though. Usually I know what albums make me feel like doing but I can’t tell with this one. Like…I think this album makes me want to shoplift from a Bonobos. It’s light and fun but it’s still gangsta as fuck. This is the type of music you listen to when you’re tending your garden in the hood and find a weed plant that you just know Jody planted but before you can fully kick him out Melvin tells you it was him. I know that’s a very specific reference but if you understand what I’m saying you will very much appreciate it. If you don’t understand, watch BET any weekend between 12 and 12.
YG cares, even if nobody else cares
One thing that I have really loved in YG’s growth is that his songs went from Gang shit to general hood stories. While YG is still a Blood, his focus isn’t the gang as much as the lifestyles of those around him. Where he used to teach us how to commit a breaking and entering, he’s rapping about unwed single mothers trying to make the best decisions they can. Don’t get me wrong, the gang shit is still there, but he’s clearly not as active as he used to be. Listening to YG rap about Gangsta shit today is like watching a married man remember his younger days as a hoe. “Sure it was fun, but I won’t go back to that”
At some points you forget that YG’s hurting throughout this whole album. While it’s possible that a lot of this was recorded before Nipsey’s passing, you can feel its effect on YG on every song. Sometimes he might have a clever line and there’s a small moment where you can almost see him go “fuck, Nipsey’s really gone”. Sometimes he raps a little louder and a bit more aggressive to get the death out of his mind, but he can’t run too far.
The whole album I was expecting YG to have a song dedicated to Nipsey, but instead YG included his speech from Nipsey’s funeral. At first, I thought that YG did this because he didn’t want to truly accept his friends passing or that it hurt him too much. But when I listened to his words, I could feel his pain, I saw how much he loved his friend and how a stadium full of cheering people appreciated what he said. YG didn’t need to have a song about how much he loved Nipsey on his album; everybody already knew. That’s an amazing way to honor him.
YG Albums used to make me want to be a full Blood. 4REAL 4REAL makes me wanna buy hard bottom shoes. What’s ironic is that I had the same thought after finishing this as I have his other albums. “Nah I can’t do that, that’s a commitment to a lifestyle I’m too sensitive for.” 4REAL REAL is a good effort by YG, even though things are hard for him - he managed to give us something for the Summer.
I give 4REAL 4REAL 7.5 Stolen Bonobos Shirts out of 10.