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Tyga, ‘Hotel California’ (Young Money/Cash Money/Republic)

Living it up: Tyga / Mike Windle/Getty
SPIN Rating: 3 of 10
Release Date: April 09, 2013
Label: Young Money/Cash Money/Republic

If you go to Safeway, a supermarket chain based in California, you can buy an off-brand soda called “Dr. Skipper.” It’s probably the third-best Dr. Pepper rip-off, after Mr. Pibb and Dr. Shasta. Tyga’s Hotel California is the rap equivalent of buying a 12-pack of Dr. Skipper and using it in lieu of champagne at the strip club lunchtime buffet.

Tyga is Y.G. for people who floss after every meal. He’s the Game for those who find Jayceon Taylor too avant-garde. Realizing that Tyga is from Compton — the city of N.W.A, DJ Quik, and Tweety Bird Loc — is like realizing that Alchemist is from Beverly Hills: Sometimes the sky can be green.

This idea of money raining from the sky is the only reason why anyone would pay attention to the third album from the rapper who named himself after the terrifying pussycat. During the first quarter of last year, “Rack City” was the preferred twerk soundtrack from Scores to Sam’s Hofbrau. It rebranded Tyga from “Coconut Juice” connoisseur to ratchet ringleader, a Ma$e for the late-period Young Money roster. It even allowed his sophomore album, Careless World: Rise of the Last King, to spawn a second Top 40 single, “Faded,” which became the de facto turn-up anthem for those delusional enough to think that Kendrick Lamar’s “Swimming Pools (Drank)” is pro-debauchery.

Tyga’s best quality is that he knows how to get out of the way. This isn’t as easy as it sounds. His flow is fluid, he knows how to fill space, and the beats are often excellent. His singles and last year’s mixtape, Well Done 3, were pop-rap done right. You were willing to forgive his lack of originality, the same way people overlooked Ma$e’s shiny suits or Kwame’s polka dots: If it makes you move, all sins are excused.

Hotel California is inexcusable. It may be the least creative major-label rap album in recent memory. It’s like it was A&R’d by the people who green-lit Battleship, the movie. The first song, “500 Degreez,” features Lil Wayne and steals its title from Wayne’s third solo album — the one named after a Juvenile album. Its most memorable line involves Tyga boasting about the “bitches on his futon.”

The second song is called “Dope.” It features Rick Ross and Tyga skylarking over the beat for Dr. Dre and Snoop Doggy Dogg’s “Deep Cover,” raising the possibility that Tyga is secretly a comic genius. Who else would have the audacity to feature the chubby Miamian suspected of being rap’s undercover cop on a cover of a song about going 1-8-7 on some undercover cops? Its most memorable line involves Tyga using the word “synopsis.”

Then there’s “Get Loose,” which features a hook almost identical to Lil Boosie’s hit, “Loose as a Goose.” There’s a remake of Tony! Toni! Toné!’s “It Never Rains (in Southern California),” which was itself a remake of Albert Hammond’s original. But neither Raphael Saadiq or the Stroke pere ever dreamed up the line, “The Birkin [got] her twerkin.'” There’s “Molly,” with its computerized vocals and Tyga frantically “searching everywhere for Molly.” Wiz Khalifa pops up on “M.O.E.” to help ransack the sample and hook from Jay-Z’s “Feelin It.”

But if you really want to understand why you can never check out of this Hotel, you just have to listen to “Hit Em Up.” That is not a misprint. Tyga not only stole the title of the hardest diss in rap history, but he also vultured the 734th-best posthumous verse from the estate of Tupac Shakur. The result manages to make the Coachella Pac-O-Gram look tasteful. Rather than invite Snoop Dogg or the Outlawz or anyone on earth who might have conceivably made sense on a song with 2Pac, he decided to feature Jadakiss, the New Yorker who wrote “We’ll Always Love Big Poppa.” Welcome to the Hotel California.

Maybe we’re being too hard on Tyga. Maybe he did us a favor. After all, this album should permanently conclude the speculation that 2Pac might still be alive — after hearing this atrocity, there’s no way he could keep quiet in hiding.