Tyga's infatuation for ancient Egyptian royalty seems more like a cursory interest rather than a man looking at peers.
Tyga should be a good rapper. Throughout his seven-year career, he’s showcased many hallmarks of rappers remembered for being rappers: a nonchalant flow with the benefit of enunciating every syllable, pop structure sensibilities, and even the power to help put a producer on the map. The three combined most memorably for his inescapable single “Rack City”, which brought DJ Mustard into the national consciousness. But Tyga’s career has always been one where rapping was seen as a gateway to more exciting endeavors: fashion, with his Last Kings print, and hobnobbing with celebrities, as evinced by his relationship with Kylie Jenner. This last connection ostensibly helped secure a Kanye West cosign as executive producer of The Gold Album: 18th Dynasty, but even a man who’s compared himself to a pharaoh before can’t secure this release as the stuff of legend.
The Kanye influence is only seen in Yeezy’s first medium, production. 808’s & Heartbreak ‘s distorted crooning, Yeezus’ punishing synths, and even a few nods to his days as a chipmunk soul auteur appear in the background on The Gold Album. As close as “God Talk” comes subjectively to “I Am a God”, the latter’s convincing doesn’t translate on Tyga’s track.
The rapper, instead, who Tyga most resembles is Soulja Boy, a rapper whose initial success in the genre became his way into myriad other ventures. Both enjoy gaudy lifestyles perpetuated by niche hits in sub-genres that they master (for Soulja, the “swag” rap, while Tyga has reigned over raunchy sex raps). Both employ cocksure flows when discussing their grandiose experiences in the one-percent. Both are by no means critically acclaimed. But one spin of “Crank Dat” or “Rack City”, and every pair of ears perks up, every mouth grins knowingly at the seemingly in-joke nature of liking these songs, despite the fandom is as pure as it gets. This is why their full-lengths are maddening, for they’ve mastered the formula time and again, but fail to do so when tasked with multiple songs in a row. Instead, collaborations carry the most weight on the album.
Lil Boosie, now known as Boosie Badazz, has absolutely demolished every verse he’s laid down since his release from prison in 2014. His excellent Touchdown 2 Cause Hell is one of the strongest hip-hop releases in a year already blessed. On “Pleazer”, Tyga’s sex-rap prowess shines through as Boosie’s unique warble adds a few more Xs to XXX. This highlight aside, though, the album is full of songs that falter either for a lack of a guiding beat or because of misguided lyrics that carry little purpose. The Kylie Jenner dynamic at least makes the speculating aspect of the lyrics unsetting, like a game of discovering which Easter eggs are about her or are just his trademark lewd style. On “4 My Dawgz”, Lil Wayne delivers a painful-sounding few bars, describing his “going crazy”, which is an apt feeling after listening to the ten songs preceding it.
The Gold Album contains traits that rappers who put together good releases must possess. For all the switched-up flows and banging beats that command his singles, Tyga has always felt lazier on his albums. It’s not his fault, though, for he’s released or appeared on a single that’s gone at least gold since 2011, not counting the six-times platinum smash that was “Bedrock”. For a rapper who doesn’t need every release to stick for his lifestyle to keep up, that becomes one of many differences between Tyga and somebody like Boosie Badazz. One day the potential may shine through, but for now, the infatuation for ancient Egyptian royalty seems more like a cursory interest rather than a man looking at peers.