Tyga is making a return. We're here for it.
The recent success of Travis Scott's Astroworld isn't the only sign of the "Kardashian Curse" losing its mythical power. It's been over a year since Tyga split from the youngest and clouty-iest Kardashian-Jenner, Kylie Jenner. The period they spent together, was paralleled by somewhat of a decline from a musical and creative perspective. Tyga is now finally claiming his overdue return to his status as a rapper capable of selling out venues and creating Billboard-charting hits.
This is not T-Raww's first disappearing act from hip-hop's main stage. After bursting onto the scene in 2008 with the S*A*M & Sluggo-produced reggae fusion track "Coconut Juice" in 2008, and then the Young Money Entertainment single "Bedrock," Tyga's promise as an up-and-coming artist eventually faded somewhat, as he failed to follow up with a similarly successful single. However, the Compton-bred rapper soon proved his naysayers wrong by breaking into the mainstream with his feature on Chris Brown's hit single "Deuces," peaking at number one on the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart and number 14 on the Billboard Hot 100. Riding this wave of success, T-Raww put the first decade of the '00s behind him and entered his gilded era of consistent bangers: 2010-2012, cranking out hits like "Rack City" (his most successful solo single to date), "Faded" and "Make It Nasty." These years were also marked by a slew of fan-favorite mixtapes, from the joint tape (ahead of the trend, we might add) Fan of a Fan with Chris Brown, to the Well Done series.
Albums such as Hotel California (2013) and The Gold Album: 18th Dynasty (2015) weren't received as positively by both fans and critics alike, and proved to be the beginning of a public's dwindling interest in the once Young Money MC. The latter album dropped in June 2015, which to put it in perspective, was right around the time rumours that T-Raww was dating Kylie were really starting to bubble over. The two added fuel to fire when Kylie finally turned 18 in August 2015, and they were seen out in public with ample amounts of PDA on deck.
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Entering the apparently toxic Kardashian-Jenner universe as the romantic interest of Kylie Jenner, ensured Tyga's rap career took a backseat in favor of his headline-friendly romantic life. Drawing the ire of celebrities and the public alike simply because of his perceived relationship status, the rapper's musical output didn't do much to help his cause: this was perhaps the most cringeworthy Tyga era.
A benchmark of this era was the release of "Stimulated." The song was part of his Fuk Wat They Talkin Bout mixtape, released just after Kylie's 18th birthday in August 2015 -- thus his love interest, now of legal age, could be discussed more openly on wax. Still, it drew much criticism for its explicit nature (we, the general/unforgiving public, knew she was 17 when this was all started going down), and lest we forget, it includes a bar that rhymes "flamest" with "lamest": "Up in flames, I've been the flamest/I've been the hottest, you've been the lamest."
Waiting until Jenner just turned 18 to drop the track and the overtly affectionate-accompanying visual, the rapper lazily applauded his ability to bag jailbait without offering any sort of justification for his actions. "Hit the mall, then we skip arraignment/They say she young, I should've waited/She a big girl, dog when she stimulated," raps T-Raww over the Zaytoven/Kanye West-produced track.
Thankfully for Tyga, his July 2017 followup to his 2011#BitchImTheShit mixtape signaled a soft return to his former fire. 16 tracks deep, #BitchImTheShit2 boasted the certified fan favorite "PlayBoy" alongside a number of heavy-hitting features by artists like Kanye West, Pusha T, Quavo and Chief Keef. Speaking with XXL, Tyga even directly addressed the fact that he needed to adjust his sound after severing ties with the Kardashians. "Being around that family really I wouldn't say helped my brand, you know what I’m saying—business-wise or nothing like that," he concluded. "But I think it definitely put me in the light of more women, being seen that their fan base is more female-driven [...] it kinda like made me reevaluate my music and kinda like how I move and carry myself I think because I know more women are watching what I’m doing."
With the 2018 release of Kyoto Tyga forged onwards still-- showing a renewed willingness to try new things and explore his soundscape further, with a singing album. While the majority of his fanbase didn't go wild over T-Raww opting for melodies over bars, his willingness to create an introspective R&B studio release speaks volumes about his newfound confidence. "I really wanted to step in front of the narrative and create my own story," Tyga revealed to Billboard, speaking of the impetus behind Kyoto's strikingly different sound. "I'm telling my story and it's authentic -- it's not made up and people are going to be able to put a face to it. The last five years of my life has been a lot of me in the media because of my relationships."
Now, as Tyga continues to settle in with freedom from any one relationship and label obligations, too, for that matter (save for his own, Last Kings), he is sounding better than ever, gifting the mainstream with recent melodic bangers like "Taste" featuring Offset and "Swish." These two records are more r'n'b-seeped than early hits like "Rack City," perhaps a result of what he learned from the release of Kyoto (a good thing, to be clear). He is picking and choosing the best of his adventures in music -- namely, melodic soft-spoken landscapes that still pack a punch, while he himself doesn't need to sing outright, rather, rap lackadaisically. D.A. Doman is the producer behind both of the new singles, thus supplying a uniformity in sound, one which fans are eager to receive more of.
"You guys praised me when I dropped "Rack City." I had multiple hits. Y'all praised me. Y'all believe in me. Y'all followed me. Then, I got in a relationship, and y'all crucified me. Put me on the cross. Now I'm resurrected," said Tyga, speaking to Billboard about the low points of his sound/celebrity evolution.
"I'm excited to get this new sound and show this new artist in me. It's a clean slate," the rapper continued. "I'm excited to do the shows and for people to see the videos we have coming."
Judging by the crowd's response during his recent guest spot on Post Malone's Los Angeles tour stop, "Taste" is just the beginning of his post-Kardashian career reconstruction. Are you here for it?