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Tyga Kyoto Last Kings Music / Empire


At his best, Tyga is the hole in the donut, surrounded by more compelling collaborators and paramours. Whether as the voice of DJ Mustard’s career-making hit Rack City, as one half of a duo with Chris Brown, or as the ex-boyfriend of Kylie Jenner, Tyga has never been quite been talented or charismatic enough to hold his own. Now, for his sixth commercial album the ex-Young Money artist has thrown something of a curveball with Kyoto – a self-described “singing album” that finds him tackling AutoTuned rap-warbling.

Whereas Rack City set the tone and sound of West Coast rap (and large swaths of pop) for half a decade, Tyga hangs onto the coattails of other artists on Kyoto. Alongside a handful of vaguely “tropical” tunes du jour, Tyga spends most of the album trying out slow-motion trap&B and making songs that sound like Drake’s filler tracks from 10 years ago.

For all his talk of “singing,” Tyga sometimes struggles to sustain the melodies, sounding unsure himself about whether or not this was a good idea. Never particularly skilled as a lyricist, here he provides plenty of cringe-worthy moments. “I been unfaithful, I been lyin’ like the king of the jungle”, the artist, named after a tiger, croons on one chorus. The theme of trust comes up again on Faithful, where he raps “sensation, communication, penetration, stimulation, ventilation, innovation”, making the case for someone confiscating his rhyming dictionary.

Across the album, Tyga tries his best to evoke millennial memories of the TRL Era, naming a song Ja Rule & Ashanti, crafting an unworthy successor to Diddy’s I Need a Girl series and building a song around a faraway sample of R. Kelly’s Feelin’ On Yo Booty. On previous albums Tyga undermined himself by enlisting A-list collaborators, and on Kyoto he does it by referencing RnB that people used to love.