November 10, 2014

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If you took the pedantic stance that all forms of revivalism are irrelevant, you could make the case against Yowda and Y.G.’s “That’s How it Goes.” In a way, this is no different from the Joey Badassery “Yo, let’s take it back to 95” ethos prevalent on the East Coast. But there’s a thin line between traditionalism and tedium. Go too far in either direction and you threaten to position yourself as the hip-hop version of a retro-modern apartment complete with fake art deco Ziggurat flourishes, but none of the craftsmanship or detail that made the original structures timeless.

All this is to say that I care about none of these things the moment I hear a good snake charmer G-Funk synth. I haven’t heard a Chronic copy this dedicated since Celly Cell or Ghetto D.  And by the absolutist rules of nostalgia, it’s been 20 years, so a certain charm has returned to the sound. To deny Dre and Hutch’s synthesized whine is to deny one of the most immutable and hypnotic ever created in hip-hop. For Y.G., the Bompton-raised rapper who taught us the day that flockers took over, this is birthright. Yowda hails from Vegas, which is not exactly L.A., but lacks legitimate culture of it’s own, so there is a foreign exchange program that includes rap, gangs, guns, and Lakers fandom. He’s also the latest signing to Maybach Music Group, whatever that means to you as 2015 swerves close.

The dedication to the spirit of ’93 is absolute. There are lowriders, bars on windows, the hood oil derricks, 40 ounces, the Beware of Dog sign.  The principal differences are that there are more tattoos, skateboards, and Diamond Supply t-shirts. After all,  Y.G.’s shirt does demand: adapt or die. This is so LA that they even have the Circus Liquor sign in North Hollywood where Cher got robbed in Clueless. There is no Randy Donut’s shot, but perfection is difficult to attain.

“That’s How It Goes” has become a minor street hit in LA, even getting a bit of occasional burn on Power 106. If you’re from here, this taps into a Pavlovian response to throw up four fingers with two twisted in the middle and drive aimlessly with store-bought homegrown. It’s a Summer Jam for the Fall in the land of eternal drought. This can go out of style elsewhere, but here, you will be hard-pressed to find anyone who doesn’t think that this goes.

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