Tyga remains hot through the start of 2019, proving he's one of the best in the game right now.
You can’t say we didn’t call it.
As we predicted last year, Tyga’s has finally hit his stride musically. His newest appearance on the single “Light It Up,” a party-ready collaboration with Chris Brown and superstar producer/DJ Marshmello, is just the latest in a string of strong efforts from the 29-year-old Compton rapper. He’s followed up successes like “Taste” (which peaked at No. 8 on the Hot 100 last summer) and “Dip” with a string of fire singles thus far in 2019, including “Girls Have Fun,” “Goddamn” and “Floss in the Bank.”
Tyga performing at The Hollywood Bowl - Kevin Winter/Getty Images
His current hot streak is even more impressive considering where T-Raww was (or perhaps, was not) in the hip-hop conversation just a couple of years ago. A messy separation from Kardashian ingenue Kylie Jenner and a seemingly infinite number of run-ins with the paparazzi made his career more about tabloid appearances than a singular, identifiable musical style.
At the same time, his musical output was mostly falling on deaf ears; not inciting any particularly strong feelings on either end of the spectrum. Starting with 2016’s Rawwest Alive, Tyga took big swings and missed on four consecutive albums. That down period hit a breaking point with Kyoto, a lifeless mess of a record that was scrutinized more for its now-infamous cover art than its complete lack of energy or sense of direction.
Luckily for Tyga, he was able to turn things around with the help of his frequent collaborator, and current powerhouse producer D.A. Doman.
Originally from Chicago, Doman played no small in this recent resurrection process, crafting instrumentals that have brought the best out of the rapper time and time again. Starting with “Taste,” he utilized a wide variety of elements, from strings to steel drums to silky-smooth vocal samples, to add a more varied textural flavor that had been missing from Tyga previous work.
There’s also a clear sense that T-Raww has scaled back some of the moodier parts of his character and has been more focused on refining the “sex rapper” part of his persona. You could draw a straight line between where he is in the mainstream firmament right now and where Lil Wayne was ten or so years ago. There are shades of Weezy tracks like “Mrs. Officer” dotting Tyga’s most recent output, crafting songs that feel as much at home in the club as they do in the bedroom.
In a Billboard article published in Fall 2018, the young emcee explained that his erratic-seeming career moves are all in service of his gut instinct. “I go off feeling,” he said. “Sometimes it has worked for me. Sometimes it hasn't. In this case,” referring to his success of “Taste,” “I guess it worked.” Like the continual underdog still working to earn well-deserved public respect, Tyga summed it up perfectly later in the piece: “I’m a guy you can never count out.”
That swagger is apparent in his record release tactics, often dropping tracks with little-to-no notice, and seemingly with no larger project attached. With tens of millions of combined followers across his social media accounts, generating a buzz without much advance hype isn’t something Tyga struggles with – in fact, it adds to his carefully cultivated mystique of a rapper who always has something new and exciting in the works. His prolific release schedule during the past 24 months is also a clear indication that he consistently makes good on those implied promises to fans.
Tyga at the 2019 Nickelodeon Kids' Choice Awards - Matt Winkelmeyer/Getty Images
The culmination of those different factors bring us back to “Light It Up,” a song that has drawn the ire of at least one Marshmello collaborator, leading to a social media backlash that, for once, has worked in Tyga’s favor. For a man who keeps finding himself on the receiving end of lawsuits and other negative media attention, it is certainly a wonder that his rap career hasn’t been completely derailed, much less blossomed into a force to be reckoned with.
Then again, maybe that’s been his plan all along. Slowly building on the potential heard in his earliest hits (“Rack City” still slaps, y’all), Tyga is that rare breed of music superstar who can’t stay down for very long. From TMZ videos to singles or albums that have bombed, T-Raww continues to impress with his tenacity as much as his talent.
The biggest reason for that? He lets those missed opportunities fuel his future efforts, instead of chalking them up as regrets. From that same Billboard article: “I’ll get success, gain momentum, then lose it, get it again, lose it […] If you fuck up, you got to get back up. [That’s] it. Nothing to it.”
Along with his ability to spit a fire flow when he feels inclined (and the inclination seemingly goes hand-in-hand w D.A Doman beats), this is how Tyga finally hit his stride.