YG’s Still Brazy, the brilliant follow-up to his 2013 debut, My Krazy Life, is perhaps the ultimate contemporary L.A gangsta rap record thus far, building on releases as disparate as Vince Staples’s Summertime ‘06, Kendrick Lamar’s good kid, m.A.A.d city and ScHoolboy Q’s Oxymoron. This is not a statement on quality—although Still Brazy is exceptional—as much as it is on lyrical content and musical tone. “I’m the only one who made it out the West without Dre,” he rhymes on lead single “Twist My Fingaz,” “I’m the only one about what I say.”
What makes an L.A. gangsta rap record an L.A. gangsta rap record? They’re the same things that have driven releases from N.W.A.’s Straight Outta Compton to Ice T’s Original Gangsta to Dr. Dre’s The Chronic—hard street rhymes laid down over funky samples, mostly drawn from (or inspired by) George Clinton’s Parliament and Funkadelic, with quick skits that tie things together. “Twist My Fingaz” samples Funkadelic’s “One Nation Under a Groove,” whose sample history alone tells the history of L.A. gangsta rap.
We’re going to assume you have a working knowledge of the linchpins of the genre, including the three albums cited in the previous paragraph, and dig a little deeper. So, if you can put Still Brazy on pause, take a trip back and sample some of the music that made it possible.