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-- By Dontaira Terrell
There's no denying that the West Coast is a dominant force in hip hop right now, thanks to the likes of several artists including YG. In fashion, music, and business; Keenon "Young Gangsta" Jackson is successfully shifting the cultural landscape of Compton into a global footprint. His longevity in the industry has been cemented due to his work ethic and various business ventures including collaborations with Reebok, Barneys New York, his 4hunnid clothing line, touring, the release of his 2014 short film Blame It on The Streets, and so much more.
His lyrical landscape, creative vision, and continuous evolution have helped rejuvenate the legacy of classic West Coast rap. From politically poppin' tunes such as "Police Get Away Wit Murder" to hood anthems like "My Nigga," YG's deep-dive personal explorations into the everyday dynamics that effect each of us has contributed to the invigorating rap star's success as a West Coast rap legend. Let's look at five reasons he became just that.
Stay Woke: YG's transparency during today's happenings in a politically charged era are reflected in songs such as "FDT" ("Fuck Donald Trump"). His fearless pursuit to rap about nuanced and complex subject matters is a common theme since his arrival on the music scene. On the 2016 track "Blacks & Browns," he addresses black-on-black crime, the school-to-prison pipeline system, and the cycle of oppression in the black community.
Put On For My City: Since the beginning of his career, YG has stayed true to both himself and his city, and it's been reflected in his music. His raw lyrics paired with classic West Coast beats serve as an ode to the roots of G-funk gangsta rap. L.A. legends such as Dre and Snoop Dogg's influences are also evident when listening to YG's music. In a previous interview with Billboard, the Compton-bred rapper spoke about his relationship with Uncle Snoop.
"Snoop's support means everything. It's not a lot of artists out here that got Snoop's support on the West Coast. Just knowing I have Snoop's support, that's like saying you're official. Snoop always looking out, he be giving a nigga game," he said. We have to admit that receiving Tha Doggfather's stamp of approval is a big deal!
Beating The Odds: Back in 2014, YG's debut studio album, My Krazy Life, was released and peaked at number 2 on the Billboard charts. Often referred to as a modern classic, the platinum-selling album solidified YG's ingenuity to rep the West Coast as a solo force. The album gave listeners a glimpse into the difficulties the rapper faced growing up in Compton and the gang-banging lifestyle. In a 2013 interview with HipHopDX, he talked about the album's inspiration.
"My album is catered to my life, my culture and the West Coast. It's like a day in the life of YG from the morning until the night. It's a lot of crazy shit. Shit that was really going on in my lifestyle, coming from where I come from, the West Coast, the culture out there. Gang banging, drugs, parties, and just like every other culture, the same shit. It's shooting going on. It's robbing going on," the rapper said.
Cali's Fashion King: YG's signature style is deeply rooted in the embodiment of California fashion. He's taken his West Coast flair to the fashion big leagues by recently partnering with retail giant Barneys New York. Inspired by Compton's street culture, his clothing line 4Hunnid means "Forever One Hundred" or stay true to yourself, which has been the rapper's motto from day one.
The People's Champ: A local hero in the eyes of his community, the 29-year-old's love and loyalty for his hometown extends beyond the rap game. As a token of appreciation for its unwavering love and support, YG often gives back to the community that molded him into the man he is today. His non-profit, 4Hundred Waze, partnered with the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health to provide health awareness for disadvantaged youth. He's also hosted several events including a community Thanksgiving dinner with the Mayor of Compton.
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