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Hatchie - Keepsake Music Album Reviews

Hatchie's platonic ideal of dream pop goes down a bit too easy, like another rewatch of a John Hughes film.
Shoegaze offers the perfect place to bury bad feelings; there is a storied legacy of groups like Slowdive and Mazzy Star sinking Tory conservatism and post-breakup remorse into hazy swirls of distortion. Harriette Pilbeam uses Hatchie as an outlet for more quotidian concerns — friendships, romances, nostalgia. On her EP Sugar & Spice, Pilbeam offered glassy guitars, long sighs, and some bright choruses, but there was nothing darker beneath the surface to reward your close, ongoing attention. She promised a broader palette for her debut, but Keepsake feels hemmed in by the same lack of depth. Pillbeam's platonic ideal of dream pop goes down a bit too easy, like another rewatch of a John Hughes film.





YG - 4REAL 4REAL Music Album Reviews

YG pays heartfelt tribute to the late Nipsey Hussle on his latest while still reserving plenty of vitriol for his favorite targets: broke dudes, snitches, broke dudes who also snitch.

In 2015, YG survived a shooting at a Los Angeles studio. His resulting paranoia birthed 2016’s belligerent Still Brazy, and the effects lingered through his last album, 2018’s chest-thumping Stay Dangerous. “I’m the man, bitch, I walk ‘round like I’m bulletproof,” he rapped, sounding like a man possessed. After surviving an attempt on his life, in what he believed to be a set up, his message was clear: He wasn’t going to be caught with his guard down again.

Earlier this year, Nipsey Hussle got shot, too, only he didn’t make it. Nip was a mentor to YG. Despite being in rival gangs, the two rappers formed a bond. They appeared alongside each other representing unity against the evil empire on “FDT.” They’d been planning a joint mixtape together as far back as 2013. After Nipsey’s death, YG pushed the release of his album back out of respect for the fallen, and there’s an inscription in his honor on the cover. In a speech given at Nipsey’s service, which appears as a track on 4REAL 4REAL, YG referred to him as his “brother from the other color” and congratulated him for leaving a lasting legacy and an unbreakable brand before vowing to carry that legacy forward. “The muthafuckin’ marathon continues,” he and Mustard shouted in unison, in keeping with Nip’s decree.

4REAL 4REAL, though dedicated to Nipsey’s memory, doesn’t really expound upon his values. YG doesn’t pick up the financial-freedom mantle. He isn’t really out to educate. He’s a tad too bitter to make something like Victory Lap. Instead, he honors his friend the only way he knows how: by doubling down. That means continuing his War on Snitches and picking up whatever slack remains in representing the West Coast. “Call Dre, Call Snoop, Call Game and Kendrick, too/When you think about the West it’s me and Nip, red and blue,” he raps in the opener, illustrating how diametrically opposed forces can be halves of a whole. If Nipsey was the community organizer, YG is the disruptor.

That said, YG is calmer on 4REAL. Not “calm,” but calmer. Credit Nip’s influence. He still reserves plenty of contempt for his favorite targets: broke dudes, snitches, broke dudes who also snitch—but he makes a concerted effort to sidestep real violence. There are fewer confrontations—“Forward progress, I don’t backtrack/That’s my old life, audible, I’m passed that,” he raps on “Bottle Service.” (He does threaten to put someone in a chokehold, but it stops there, which feels like progress.) The energy goes into the rapping, which is cleaner, clearer, and more focused than it has been in a few years.

Mustard and YG remain perfect partners for each other, two artists who value cutting straight to the point. Mustard makes YG sound sharper and funnier, and YG seems to embolden Mustard’s wildest beats—check out the mariachi horns of “Go Loko.” 4REAL 4REAL doesn’t quite reestablish YG as the album artist of My Krazy Life and Still Brazy, but what it lacks in a satisfying through line it makes up for in highlights. The breezy, feel-good Cali groove of “Do Yo Dance” and the satisfying block anthem “Do Not Disturb,” both of which feature Kamaiyah, are some of his catchiest cuts. On “I Was On the Block,” YG experiments with a spaced-out, off0-kilter Valee-style flow, and it suits him. “Heart 2 Heart” is the kind of gangsta-empowering, buy-back-the-block tutorial that would do Nipsey proud, with Meek Mill turning up to counsel on enduring prison bids. There’s always at least one cringy song on a YG album, in which he needlessly judges some woman’s sexuality (here, it’s “Keshia’s Got a Baby”), but he rectifies this by letting Compton’s Day Sulan close the album with “Her Story.” It’s a move in line with Nipsey’s ethics: pay it forward, help bring other perspectives to light, uplift your community. The marathon continues.

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