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Tyga Doesn't Have a Formula, He Just Found His Recipe

Backseat Freestyle
Tyga Doesn't Have a Formula, He Just Found His Recipe
By Jayson Rodriguez • Issue #29 • View online
Welcome to Backseat Freestyle. This is my weekly hip-hop newsletter I send out every Friday focusing on one big thing that happened over the past seven days. I also include links to what I’ve been listening to, reading and watching. You can check out the archives, here, and read more about me, here. If you’re already a B.F. subscriber, thank you for your continued support. Please share this newsletter with your circle so that they can enjoy it, too. If you’re arriving to this issue by way of a forward, LinkedIn or social media, please subscribe below. With that said, let’s get into it….
Editor’s Note: I didn’t release a column last week, as I was having a subscriber bump based on my appearance on the New York Times Podcast. That’s only happed one other time and I found it better to wait until that spike slows down. To my new subscribers, welcome and thank you for joining. This issue will have curated picks at the bottom from the past two weeks.

Tyga // Credit: Tyler Weinberger (Vevo)
Tyga // Credit: Tyler Weinberger (Vevo)
Front Seat
This is what’s driving hip-hop this week….
FOR THE PAST TWO WEEKS it seems like we were all still stuck on the Verzuz matchup between the Diplomats and the LOX. It really was a remarkable showcase for New York and a legacy-affirming display for Jadakiss. Since I wrote about that in the last newsletter, however, I wanna hit on another topic I’ve had on my mind for a while now: Tyga’s consistency. Yes, he had the biggest comeback in 2018 (Soulja Boy don’t @ me!), but what he’s done from that point on is built upon his sound. There’s a familiarity to his success: a certain type of tempo, a certain type of flow and Tyga pairs it with music videos that features him frolicking with half-dressed hotties. Some criticize his work as formulaic. My view, instead, is that he’s found his recipe. He’s cooking.
Back Seat
Respect my mind or die from lead shower.
TYGA IS JUST 31 YEARS OLD yet he’s lived a long life as a recording artist. He burst on the scene way back in 2008 with “Coconut Juice,” backed by Fall Out Boy’s Pete Wentz and co-signed by Travie McCoy and Lil Wayne, real family and soon-to-be family. He was positioned to be an MTV darling, when the channel was still in search of its next set of heartthrobs. Following TRL’s demise, the company was looking to wrap their arms around anyone with dimples. With its mix of alt-influenced hook, LA aggression in his rhymes and blue skies outlook in the video, “Coconut Juice” seemed like it was a blueprint for his stardom. By the next year, the blog era ushered in the next wave of superstars from the hip-hop world, and Drake, Kid Cudi and Wiz Khalifa had next. Tyga was on the outside looking in. 
As luck would have it, Tyga joined the same team as Drake and became a Young Money member. His sound got upgraded too courtesy of DJ Mustard. The novelty of debut wore off as “Rack City” from his Careless World: Rise of the Last King LP broke in a real way and powered Tyga into the conversation. He was also aided by a collaboration mixtape with Chris Brown, Fan of a Fan, which had helped to resurrect both of their careers, Brown’s from scandal and Tyga’s from irrelevance. 
He rode the success of “Rack City,” that mixtape and the Young Money compilation momentum to legit stardom. 
Then it fizzled…sort of. (But not really.)
The burden to be next up in the Young Money camp fell too heavily on Tyga.
2013’s Hotel California went gold and featured a lineup of heavy hitters, including Future, Rick Ross, The Game and Jadakiss, among the usual suspects. 
But that project and his next, 2015’s The Gold Album, produced by Kanye West and at a remove from Young Money, failed to keep Tyga in the musical zeitgeist, which he had seamless fit in. He then began feuding with Drake and his dating life was in headlines more than his music. From my view, as Drake and Nicki Minaj took off into superstardom, the burden to be next up in the Young Money camp fell too heavily on Tyga. A formula emerged as the system around him rallied to attain the success Aubrey and Onika managed. That Tyga didn’t, unfairly contextualized his achievements and likely stalled the rollout of other YM acts behind him. 
Underneath all of this, a different story was occurring. Tyga went through a few management changes and the music industry and mixtape game were reconciling the means of distribution from a bifurcated state to a streamlined pathway. Everything an artist made would soon be available on DSPs, blurring the lines of what was a mixtape and what was a proper album. Artists would no longer have dueling discographies that could cannibalize one another. 
That’s the thing about a recipe, though, we all know the ingredients. 
Because in 2015, Tyga’s mixtape was everything his 2015 album wasn’t. “Glitter” and “Ice Cream Man” were bangers and each racked up video views that his earlier major labor efforts achieved. To the masses, though, it seemed like Tyga was being counted out. 
Even in 2017, ahead of his recognized comeback, he scored big numbers with “1 of 1” from Bitch I’m the Shit 2
By the time Legendary arrived in 2019, Tyga proved he could stand on his own and the pump was primed as consumption traversed from TV to computers and mobile. 
I don’t have to tell you that “Taste” took off. Or that “Swish” and “Dip” followed. Tyga was back, even if the idea of his absence could be disputed. And it should. 
Since then he’s had a slew of hot guest appearances and non-album singles (because what’s an album in 2021?) such as “Ayy Macarena,” “Splash” and “Mrs. Bubblegum.”
Those three singles, of course, lean heavily on familiar samples: “Macarena,” “We Want Some Pussy” and “Laffy Taffy,” respectively. And a meme in the comments of Tyga’s videos has emerged that goes something like this, Director: How many girls? Tyga: Girls. That’s the thing about a recipe, though, we all know the ingredients. 
What makes Tyga’s play more recipe than formula is that it’s wholly his own. When he was out of the limelight, he fine tuned his sound, forged what success is for him, and he’s doubled down on it. A formula is more of a matter of being slapdash or an attempt to mimic what others are doing in hopes that it could work for you too. Tyga’s moves, on the other hand, are his own distinct brand. 
It’s taken him a long time to reach this point, but beyond being Legendary, he’s now automatic, a hitmaker who can be counted on to deliver a party jam every time out. 
Success never tasted so sweet. 
Trunk
Music, reads, podcasts and videos (music and more) I’m checking for.
Wale is slanging rhymes like a No Limit Soldier on “Down South,” an homage to Mike Jones’ “Still Tippin” and complete with a nod to Master P. Featuring Yella Beezy and Maxo Kream, the track is the latest from the upcoming Folarin 2, following the Chris Brown-assisted “Angles.” [Listen]
Rod Wave dropped a deluxe version of SoulFly with nine new tracks, including a collab with his fellow Alamo labelmate, Lil Durk, called “Already Won” that samples “Can You Stand The Rain.” Bit things on deck with these guys; still wondering why UMG let them walk to the bag at Sony. [Listen]
Fat Joe is giving floral-print shirt energy all over his What Would Big Do 2021 album. Early standouts, for me, are “Honey,” “Demon Girl” and “Africa.” [Listen]
Boldly James delivers another gritty collection in Bo Jackson, armed with a soundscape provided by The Alchemist. There’s some others in the slow flow set I’d rock with first, but Boldy may have the consistency over them. Give a listen to “Brickmile to Montane” and “Steel Wool” first. [Listen]
Trippie Redd has done a good job of refining his sound from project to project. There’s a familiarity in what he does but incremental growth on each subsequent release. That’s not as exciting as taking a big leap, but Trip At Knight is an artist who knows who he is and does what he does well. [Listen]
Jaden Smith is a hit or miss type of artist in a very specific kind of way. He’s either wholly original or wildy derivative. His “Summer” track is a good groove, but it’s also a mix of Childish Gambino and Drake with a pinch of any Soundcloud rapper. [Listen]
The flow still flips like Dominique Dawes. No disrespect to Simone Biles but we talking classic reference points. And we’re talking Big Boi spitting some acrobatics on his latest, “The Big Sleep Is Over.” Sounds vintage but fresh. [Listen]
If BF had rankings, Coi Leray would be the biggest riser from the start of this newsletter to present day. Her latest, “Okay Yeah!” continues to bolster her breakout year. It’s a quick hitter, but provides all the things she does well: rumbling flow, Auto-Tuned variance and fun. [Listen]
MC Serch pens a tribute to KMD in a local Far Rock newspaper. [Read]
ASL interpreters are working hard to forge cultural communication effectively, but moments like the Megan Thee Stallion interpreter going viral are more complicated than watershed. [Read]
Complex’s Jessica McKinney asks a damn good question: “Why Aren’t Women Getting More Guest Features on Rap Albums?” [Read]
LOX and Dipset surge to near-high streaming numbers after their Verzuz matchup. Related: Breakfast Club sat down with Jadakiss, Styles P and Sheek Louch for an introspective chat. [Read] [Watch]
A lot of second references to Brownsville’s Ka in articles mention that he’s a firefighter, but the brother can hoop too. Because he definitely busted my ass and everyone on a court in Brooklyn one day back in like 2005. Glad he’s getting New Yorker love for his deliberate and detailed rhyme style. [Read]
Big Krit’s acclaimed mixtape catalog had his DSP’s, a win for a rapper whose blog era material was so instrumental as a part of a new wave of talent. Related: De La Soul acquired its master recordings and their catalog will be coming to streamers too. [Read] [Read]
Larry June is an artist Backseat Freestyle has been overlooking on the editorial tip with acknowledgement, but Cabbages came through with a quality Q&A. [Read]
Beyonce covers Harper’s Bazaar. I’d like to see her do an unprepared interview soon, say with either a friendly like Oprah, something unpredictable like Ziwe or fun like The Breakfast Club. Bey got mad personality and would be dope to experience it more than just on songs. Related: Lil Nas X is one of Variety’s Power of Young Hollywood covers. [Read] [Read]
Bobby Shmurda talks to the Times about his post-prison plans to move your body. [Read]
Speaking of which, I did too. Appeared on the Podcast to talk about the most recent Verzuz battle, early 2000s mixtapes and more. 
I really like this Loud podcast (a Spotify Original; full disclosure I am Gang Green, but I didn’t work on this.) on the history of ?Reggaeton because it examines the strands of the culture and untangles helixes from Panama, Jamaica and Puerto Rico that make up the dynamic genre’s DNA. Related: Isabelia Herrera goes deep on the pod for the New York Times. Also related: J Balvin breaks down reggaeton’s style evolution with Tainy and Yandel. (Shouts to Vandal, AJ, and Laura Stylez) [Listen] [Read] [Watch]
Rest in peace to Chucky Thompson, an equally heralded and under-appreciated talent, who gifted Bad Boy many a hit as a member of the famed Hitmen with his ability to replay samples. [Read] [Read] [Read]
Soulja Boy and Bow Wow team up on “Soulja Boy vs Bow Wow;” the title is confusing but it’s a jam. [Watch]
Meek Mill’s main draw has always been his flow, where his delivery has a Riddick Bowe-like punch behind his bars. But he’s getting closer and closer to sharpening his POV and “War Stories” and “Mandela Freestyle” is another step toward him reconciling his personal and professional outlook. [Watch] [Watch]
Dimelo Flow’s “Se Le Ve” has a helluva lineup on some “1 Train” shit. [Watch]
NoCap has a lot of old soul to him on “Vaccine,” but halfway through the video is when the levity to his lyrics really punch through. [Watch]
I know J.I.D. gets a lot of (deserved) love, but Lute is the one to watch, for me. The Dreamville rapper takes a hard look in the mirror in “Myself.” [Watch]
Mach Hommy is another artist I haven’t given enough shine to in BF, but his “No Blood No Sweat” visual is right on time. It’s a lot mo [Watch]
AZ and Jahiem gotta do this more often. “The Wheel” feels good in the ears. Smooth vid too. [Watch]
I love the quick cuts on Est Gee’s “5500 Degrees” video. A bit more spastic than this comparison I’m about to make, but it reminds me of a No Limit video. Two No Limit references in one newsletter, what is this 1998? [Watch]
Isaiah Rashad really has a character about his work and the video for “From The Garden” has mad style to it. [Watch]
September 26th I’m glued to my TV. The BMF series, executive produced by 50 Cent, premieres on Starz. The trailer just arrived and it’s trying to be a lot of different things (prestige and gangster) but I’m intrigued. [Watch]
Backseat Freestyle is written and produced by Jayson Rodriguez for Smarty Art LLC. If you have any comments, questions or want to discuss sponsoring a newsletter issue, feel free to email me: jayson@smartyartllc.com. And follow me elsewhere:
(I added a couple of new links below recently because I might experiment with promoting Backseat Freestyle on TikTok and Clubhouse or Twitch.)
Instagram: @jaysonrodriguez
Clubhouse: @jaysonrodriguez
YouTube: smartyartllc
Podcast: coming soon
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Jayson Rodriguez

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