In 2014, Trinidad James mentioned how “every rapper that’s really popping out of New York, you might as well say he’s from Atlanta”. Trinidad James is one of many voices who claim rap regionalism is changing in the face of our access to music on the Internet and what trends are worthy of reproduction. As Adrian Lee succinctly writes, “someone growing up in New York can be influenced just as easily by Miami trunk-rattling as by Bronx boom-bap— it’s the same distance on the Internet”.
While it might be difficult to determine where an artist comes from by listening to their tracks online, regionalism looks and sounds different in 2016 than it did 20 years ago. Drake developed a commonly known and understood “Toronto sound” through the influence of other regions, artists, and sounds, from London, England to Lagos, Nigeria. While Drake is an example of how regionalism is being re-defined, Compton artist YG is a display of regionalism at its core — having pride in where you come from, and how to present that pride to a wider audience.
LA through-and-through, rapper YG performed at The Vogue Theatre on Monday night. In one of the most politically relevant musical statements of the year, YG has mobilized youth culture’s general distaste for the president-elect in the form of a 50-date “Fuck Donald Trump” tour. Along with on-the-rise Oakland rapper Kamaiyah and LA’s RJ, YG packed The Vogue Theatre for two shows.
With graphics of bottles pouring and driving through palm trees displayed behind him, YG performed a handful of hits from his latest “Still Brazy”, including a feature performance with Kamaiyah of their hit single “Why You Always Hatin?” He performed album favourites from “My Krazy Life”, such as “BPT”, “Left, Right” and “I Just Wanna Party”. He even performed his feature on the pop Jeremih hit “Don’t Tell ‘Em”, just to remind us why we love him so much. YG closed his set with a performance of “Fuck Donald Trump”, leaving fans charged up as he beat a cardboard figure fashioned in the likeness of the new President of the United States, and launched the pinata into the audience with a cathartic drop kick.
The last time YG played in Vancouver, the show was a disappointment for most. He lost his voice 3 songs in, and partied for the rest of the night. Making up for his last visit, YG delivering his convincing storytelling, his popularized LA gang language, and his endlessly outstanding collaborations with DJ Mustard. On stage, YG performs, but he’s also the host of the party and the leader of a Trump protest. And even though he’s straight out of Compton, YG’s voice resonates beyond LA.