YG, "My Krazy Life" (Def Jam)
From N.W.A. to the first Snoop Dogg/Dr. Dre pairing, the West Coast has been where gangsta rap and its grooving cousin G-funk rule. No surprise, then, that Compton's Young Gangsta, known to mixtape fans as YG, is gangsta's freshest prince. His Def Jam debut has the sort of hard, evil edge that Eazy-E and Co. made into hip-hop's most dangerous vibe, with the sexy, weed-stained swagger of early Snoop.DJ Mustard's beats and backgrounds define and defy the genre, as YG leans in with confidence and a singsong flow. His narratives aren't daring, but his evocation of a day in the life — robberies, drugs, parties, punishment, finding tomorrow — is bold and refreshingly plain-spoken. Regrets? He's had a few, as in "Sorry Momma," but not enough to qualify his bounce, as in the aggressively catchy "Do It to Ya," or slow his roll, as in "Really Be (Smokin N Drinkin)." Guests Drake, Schoolboy Q and Kendrick Lamar help make the party more sociable, but the CD's most crucial moments come when the rapper brings the fun, or faces his fears, alone.
A.D. AMOROSI, Philadelphia Inquirer
Veteran bluesman Keb' Mo' gets back to a rawer, rootsier sound on "BluesAmericana," featuring songs cowritten with Nashville tunesmiths Gary Nicholson, Victoria Shaw and Jim Weatherly. Due on Tuesday, the disc is streaming now at USA Today. http://tinyurl.com/o5bd9ff