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Not Good: A Review of Tyga’s Hotel California



Sometimes, an album comes along that makes me want to drop everything I’ve been listening to, lock myself in a room with my iPod, and experience the music. Such albums are deep, sonically-unique, lyrical, and intricate works of art.

This is not one of those albums.

No, this is Hotel California, the new album by hip-hop artist Tyga. You may have heard its hit single “Molly,” an ode to a potent form of the illicit drug MDMA, and you’ve probably heard “Rack City” before that, a gentle record from his last album about strippers, drugs, and promiscuous geriatrics. Both songs have been quite popular — in part, among those who appreciate them ironically.

Sometimes, though, it’s hard to tell whether Tyga’s in on the joke. The album artwork for Hotel California includes a photo of the rapper dressed in a white fur coat (complete with a rather bulbous fur hat) standing next to a supine tiger. It’s ridiculous, and at first glance appears to be some sort of ironic statement on the absurdity of wealth recently acquired by the rapper himself.

But then a song like “Get Rich” comes on, a thumping ode to excess accentuated by the hook, “Getting money is a habit,” and one is reminded of the artwork for Tyga’s debut album, Careless World: Rise of the Last King, which depicts the rapper wearing gold clothes and sitting on a golden throne. He may not be mocking excess after all.

Setting aside the social statements, it’s easy to fault Tyga for recording such an awful album. As the perpetual runt of the YMCMB litter, Tyga’s always had a reputation for being a high-pitched, whining rapper. Yet on Hotel California, he doesn’t seem to have done much to reverse this distinction. He still raps in a decidedly non-elegant way, calling to mind a lo-fi version of the “hashtag rap” first popularized by Drake in 2009, but with every other syllable draaaaaaaagged out and each bar accented by a strange “Awh” noise and a juvenile variation on Tyga’s name, typically “T-Raw!” or “Tygaman!”

Lyrically, the album is dismal. Tyga obviously seems not to have learned much in terms of songwriting, as every track revolves around the same old subjects: drugs, strippers, and money. Songs quickly blend into other songs. The chorus of the aforementioned dismal “Molly” consists of an auto-tuned female voice chanting “Molly. Molly. Molly. Molly.” It isn’t pretty.

What’s off-putting about Tyga is that everything he does seems to be genuinely joyless. Other rappers, such as Lil Wayne, rap about drugs and sex, but they tend to do so in a more entertaining manner. Tyga doesn’t ever seem like he’s having fun: when he raps, he snarls and appears to race the beat to its conclusion. His lyrics are confusing, especially for Top 40 lead singles; in “Molly,” rather than saying that drugs give him some sort of pleasure, as other rappers might, Tyga raps about how he’s “on a bad trip” with “too much s**t to worry about.” It’s a frigid and rather bleak way to make music.

Luckily, this attitude has led to one redeeming factor of Hotel California: the production. Tyga’s sneer works well when bouncing off of eerie, echoing beats granted to him by producers like Bay Area up-and-comer DJ Mustard. The smeared, smoked-out production is the one thing that kept me listening. But as the synths thump and fizzle out, Tyga continues, spitting out an occasional so-so verse before retreating back into the recesses of this less-than-stellar sophomore album.

Tyga’s Hotel California (2013, Young Money, Cash Money, Republic Records) can be purchased on iTunes for $14.99.

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About the Contributor
Ned Hardy, Editor-In-Chief
Ned Hardy is a man of many passions. His latest endeavor? Bringing his expertise and vision to Inklings as Editor in Chief. Hardy joined the Inklings staff his junior year after being impressed by the awesome issues being put out. Having started out as Web A&E Editor, Hardy has the knowledge and experience to help take both the paper and the web to greater heights. He enjoys writing in- depth investigative news pieces. Although he never sets out to stir up controversy, Hardy likes taking difficult, thought provoking subject to write his articles about. But Hardy is more than just the typical investigative reporter; he is also a music enthusiast and enjoys writing album reviews that reflect his interest. Hardy says he is a big fan of rap music, especially Kanye West. When he isn’t writing for Inklings or jamming out to Kanye, Hardy, a self proclaimed foodie, might be found cookie up something delicious. Hardy’s varied passions foster an appreciation for each writer as an individual. As Editor in Chief, Hardy hopes to influence the paper by personally interacting with everyone on the staff. “This could easily become a situation where only the loudest voices are heard’, Hardy Said.  “I want everyone to have a chance to write the article they want to write or to take the picture they want to take.”

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