"I think it's lit," said rapper Tyga when asked by a paparazzi member about his latest album's controversial cover. "It's art man, it's art, you know?"
The album art for Kyoto, Tyga's sixth studio album and first within the realm of R&B/Soul music, features a rising red sun directly behind hentai imagery of a fully nude, hybrid tiger-woman with her buttocks positioned upward in the air. It's at-worst offensive and at-best unnecessary, an apt description for Kyoto itself. Through 14 songs and 52 minutes of Tyga's "authentic" story, Kyoto is a generic, audial embodiment of rapid, melancholic right-swiping on Tinder. until you run out of likes.
Expected motifs of infidelity, jealousy, heartbreak and passion are nestled into the stories of each song. On "King of the Jungle," the album's sixth track, Tyga offers up elementary-level wordplay describing a fellow large cat.
"I been unfaithful, I been lying (lion) like the king of the jungle," inexplicably sings Tyga. "But I ain't lying (lion) when I say I love you."
Judging by the next two songs, however, Tyga's woman seems to have been more than fed-up with his actions and less than convinced by his simile game to reconcile. "Hard2Look" tells the tale of a man needing to restrain himself from picking up the phone and calling an ex-lover. On the cringe-worthy "I Need a Girl, Pt. 3," a reference to Puff Daddy's "I Need a Girl, Pt. 1" and "I Need a Girl, Pt. 2", the chasm is solidified as Tyga pleads for new love.
"Yeah, I'm Puff Daddy, I need a girl that'll ri-ri-ride," explains Tyga in full-simpin' mode. "Pour the Ciroc, yeah, yeah, I'm Puff Daddy, I need a girl in my life."
Kyoto's final five songs are the project's strongest, a true-yet-unimpressive superlative. "Hot Soup," a pop-heavy jam about a girl who improves Tyga's help like hot soup, is a smooth listen. Gucci Mane lends a verse to "Sip a Lil" and Tory Lanez (who I swear sounds like a completely different person on every song he has ever done) hits a high-pitched croon on "Faithful." "Ja Rule & Ashanti," the penultimate track and second song title that pays tribute to late '90s, early 2000s hip-hop, is solid.
"Lil mami, lil mami, I'm down for you, I'm down for you," sings Tyga. "Ja Rule, Ashanti."
Kyoto is plagued by the same illness of Tyga's existing career, with decent tracks existing sparingly amongst an ocean of mediocrity. It's bad, but at this point, does anybody really care?