YC The Cynic is misunderstood. People sometimes mistake cynicism for pessimism. The latter means you believe nothing good can happen and that everything is hopeless. Cynicism is much more nuanced – you can believe in good things and see possible futures that are brighter, butSELFISH PEOPLE get in the way. Cynicism makes you doubt the actions of others – if they do something nice for you, they must benefit from it in some form short term or long term. If you’re in politics, movies or the music industry, it’s entirely healthy to be cynical. The downfall of cynicism is that it leads to isolation – if you never trust anyone other than yourself you wind up alone.
YC walks a careful line between isolation and inclusion on “GNK.” Life experience has made him cynical, but the very act of recording and releasing an album suggests he still wants to connect with others. Artists are driven to create (sometimes to the point of madness) but not always driven to share. When you identify with your art, criticism cuts like a knife, and for someone who puts their worldview in their rap moniker that could cut deeply. YC takes that risk because cynicism is not pessimism – he believes in the power of his art and has been rewarded with critical acclaim for his previous mixtapes.
“GNK” won’t break the trend. There are many worthwhile moments to highlight in 12 songs and 46 minutes of Frank Drake produced tracks, but I’d like to focus on “Murphys Law” while I have your attention. This dark whistling melody is a post-modern revisit to the philosophy of Notorious B.I.G., borrowing in part from “What’s Beef?” and “Get Money,” then more heavily from “Notorious Thugs.” While YC does display the ability to speed flow the way Biggie did for a verse, that’s hardly the point. When he says “look at all the bullshit I’ve been through,” he’s actually painting a portrait of the Bronx as a whole – and also issuing a stern warning as to how destructive and contrary humans can be:
“Rappers think they changin shit by sayin shit
Where the fuck’s yo’ action?
Look what happened to.. Hendrix, Marley, Michael Jackson
Cats get shattered, drugged up
for killin lies and spillin truth
Just imagine what these motherfuckers tryin to do to you!”
YC almost seems to be challenging reviewers on “The Heaviest Cross” when he says “your website rating was under 8/well fuck the numbers, I want reactions.” My reaction to YC is that he’s an extremely intelligent young man, and his “cross to bear” is the burden of wanting to make significant statements in the environment of “A&Rs giving me the song and dance” because he won’t dumb it down. Has it given him a “God Complex” per se? No but it’s cool to hear him sing – he’s better at it than he thinks and there’s a sly wit to lines like “I’m your local undertaker” which you really have to listen to twice to appreciate.
“I know this might seem quite irrational
But you should fear no man but me (no man but me)
I blur the line between fake and factual
And only death can set you free”
In many respects YC strikes me as a United States compatriot to D-Sisive – his demeanor, his dark humor, his dissatisfaction with both himself and the world. “I won’t be here for much longer/so while I’m here just cheer me on.” That won’t be hard to do. “GNK” isn’t going to go broadstream though. Songs like “Negus” and “Being God” border on being New York’s answer to DJ Screw – slow beats or slowed vocals – and there’s a general dourness that maybe you have to be a cynic yourself to appreciate. If you want to be happy and party listen to Flo Rida or Pitbull – but if the truth hurts so good then buy your dose at the local “GNK” store.