No one saw this coming.
Of course, there's a corner of die-hard Tyga fans—those who can go bar for bar on any installment of Bitch I'm the Shit or Well Done—who have always claimed their faith in T-Raww, the ever-randy Prince of Strip Club Anthems. But, as recently as six months ago, the majority of the objective-minded music listener were probably using "well done" to describe Tyga's career prospects. Which is to say, overcooked and past salvageable.
Fast-forward to Halloween, though, and Tyga has somehow become a shoo-in for top 20 on every self-respecting End of Year songs list with "Taste." And he has a handful of supplemental, equally enjoyable follow-up songs to propel the wave.
Tyga's back, stronger than ever, but he started the year in the worst possible place for any artist: shilling music that was blatantly, deeply untrue to him. At least, that's the narrative. It's quite possible that AutoTuned, trop-house island tinged rap&B is the type of music that truly lights a fire in Tyga's soul. Maybe, in our collective critical and commercial rebuke of Kyoto—the album with which he presented that new side of himself under the banner of Japanese robo-furry porn—we dragged Tyga not only back to the drawing board, but back down into a pit of sophomoric depravity he was actually trying to escape. Maybe Tyga is the strip club's John Wick and we just pulled him right back in, away from intimate one-woman-man music video ballads and back to mansion pool parties with an endless supply of Reddi Whip.
But if Tyga is feeling anything less than triumphant these days, he isn't showing it. Since kick-starting the summer with a surprise blockbuster return to form in "Taste," your boy T-Raww has been on an undeniable run—one that's hit a new height this week as he re-linked with estranged former labelmate Nicki Minaj to deliver a new(er) version of a song (he already released several weeks back)* that's already earwormed its way into public favor. *(Nicki is adamant: don't call it a remix!)
So, how the fuck did this happen? The Hentai-aesthetic crooning album was perceived by many as the final nail in the coffin and not given a second thought after. But Tyga has since hopped out of the casket with such carefree abandon, it's almost as if he was trolling. It's hard to pinpoint exactly when Tyga became an easy Twitter punchline: Some might say it was circa The Gold Album, others will cite early instances like the infamous MTV appearance that was the stuff of Atlanta subplots as proof he was always one give or take a "Rack City." How quickly we forget, though: Careless World: Rise of the Last Kings, his only truly notable Young Money release, was (and still is) an extremely solid album from someone who screamed singles artist, with features from Nas(!), J. Cole, Pharrell, Wale, and Marsha Ambrosius to boot.
His following projects didn't quite measure up, but steady singles, features, and scene-stealing appearances on Young Money posse cuts like "Senile" kept him afloat. The drama over the Gold Album, an ill-advised micro-beef with Drake, and the internet's disdain for his relationship with Kylie Jenner sunk him.
Or so we assumed.
The last Tyga song I saw fit to add to my personal library was "Make It Work," which some took as a Drake sub, I simply took as a slapper that he flowed his ass off on. That was 2014. Since then, he's had fits and starts but never any lasting momentum. An in-laws in-road to GOOD Music held promise, and even yielded an intriguing collab with Desiigner, but it ultimately went nowhere interesting. Then we found ourselves at Kyoto, an interesting failure, and a low point with only one place left to go. And how high he's gone.
Pop culture loves a great comeback, but Tyga is currently exceeding even the wildest predictions. On paper, it's less rocket science, moreso formulaic at this point, to get an L.A. beach-party beat, enlist a Migo, and charge your way back to the charts. What's unprecedented though, is that the Migos cheat code—Offset in this instance—would prove to be the least compelling part of the song. As the visual for "Taste" made the rounds, and everyone arrived (some sooner than others) to a point of willing to admit it was a banger beyond guilty pleasure concessions, what was notable was how much it hit because of Tyga instead of in lieu of him.
Armed with a summer-ready beat by David D. A. Doman, (a musical partnership dating back to, would you look at that? Careless World) Tyga skates with an ease we hadn't heard in years. There's only a blessed few who can make lines like "Get your ass checked like a fucking Nike" or "Say the wrong word, you'll be Hangman" soar—and he's one of them.
It's unclear if Tyga himself was surprised at how quickly we all opted not to act brand new and embrace "Taste," or if his plan was to always get back in with people that know his strengths best (like D.A.) and clip up. Five months out from "Taste's" initial impact, he's releasing new songs and videos at a clip, getting buzz for meta self-aware bars on radio freestyles, and culling A-list features for songs he already put out. He's ravenous to the point of not even letting D.A. stray away from him, strong-arming the "Taste"-adjacent "Zeze" beat away from Kodak Black and being celebrated for it as someone who will (and did) do the beat justice it deserves. Again, you'd have to have actual contempt for Tyga to allege he hasn't had his moments in the past four years. But something about this run, in this window, is landing with greater impact.
What happens next? Does the D.A. x Tyga union get played out, or does it yield a full project? Is he off projects altogether, content to drop a new jam every eight weeks? Is this a regression he'll ultimately come to reject before attempting more sensitive music with confusingly erotic album art?
It's anyone's guess, but as of right now, yea, I'm thinking Tyga's back. Well done, indeed.