To understand the unlikely triumph that is Compton rapper YG's debut album My Krazy Life, you need to go back to his breakthrough single "Toot It & Boot It." Released in 2010, the song is an innocent trifle about one-night stands that nonetheless features an irresistible sing-along hook by a then-unknown singer and producer named Ty Dolla $ign. (The melody would later be interpolated by Bruno Mars on Snoop Dogg and Wiz Khalifa's "Young, Wild & Free," earning Ty a roundabout Grammy nomination.) It became a fleeting pop hit in America and a regional smash in California, but it didn't exactly portend greatness from YG, who was 20 at the time but rapped with the skill and assurance of a high school freshman mumbling his first raps into his bedroom computer.
"At first, I didn’t understand," Ty Dolla $ign told me during an interview a few months ago, speaking of "Toot It & Boot It"‘s runaway success. "I didn’t get it because I felt like he wasn’t rapping on beat. It was hella Auto-Tuned. It was really weird for me. I hated the song." YG released a string of mixtapes over the following three years, honing his aesthetic and growing more confident as an MC but, divorced from that golden hook, he never came close to replicating his breakout success.