That YG has maintained such a following is a bit surprising. The Compton (sorry, Bompton) rapper doesn’t think outside the box. Instead, he’s so normal in terms of presentation and delivery that you wonder when the other shoe is going to drop. As of yet, there’s no shtick that can memeify YG, be it a deliberate vocal tic, a particularly absurd or hilarious lyric, or even a signature piece of clothing.

This low-key approach worked remarkably well for YG’s first two albums, My Krazy Life and Still Brazy, the first being a party rap album infused with menace and the second being his political statement while giving listeners specifically his POV on police brutality and Donald Trump. Each felt like a prelude to a magnum opus, where the tight-lipped but not dull-minded MC would realize just how potent his message is.

The reveal of his third album, Stay Dangerous, made it seem as though YG was embracing goofiness for the first time. How else can you explain him posing stoically in a leather vest against a Chinese dragon mural? This isn’t YG’s loosest album or his most serious one, but a strange fusion of those two mindsets. It feels like market research, meant to determine what kind of YG listeners like the best.

Opener ‘10 Times’ is partially a recap of Still Brazy’s events, condemning the president, police, and others as YG avows to protect his partner and child. It has a message but not the best delivery. Maybe it’s the rather listless hook (“It’s ten times hard for a real n----”). Maybe it’s how DJ Mustard’s beat, with its creeping synths, sounds like it’s trying too hard to reinforce YG’s words instead of letting them speak for themselves. Maybe it’s the gospel choir outro that’s particularly tacked-on. As someone’s first taste of YG, it could definitely be compelling. However, long-time fans should rightfully expect more.

The majority of the album doesn’t have all that much to do with any familial themes. It isn’t until towards the end that YG is really getting into any sort of emotional state. Most of the time, he’s as aloof as ever. But while past releases painted him as someone whose brutal life lessons led to an air of near-permanent stoicism until things get too heated, Stay Dangerous can make him seem indifferent. There are few low points (the only track that is almost completely unenjoyable is ‘Can’t Get Into Kanada’, a Migos imitation with irritating percussion) but also few high points. YG can do this in his sleep, and occasionally, you want to pinch him to make sure he hasn’t dozed off in the studio.

There are inspired moments here. Many happen when YG lives up to his artwork by going for broke. ‘Suu Whoop’ lets him stretch his vocal chords as he howls the title and gives him some of best one-liners ("’YG, how you feel about the hundreds bein' blue?’ N-----, I ain't mad”).The swirling synths mixed with harder percussion from DJ Mustard and J Holt is one of several beats on this album that would stand alone just fine.

Those who prefer My Krazy Life will be happy to know that DJ Mustard is back on the beat, giving power to tracks that YG isn’t doing much to bring life to, like the dirty synths on sex jam entitled ‘Power.’ Just because an album isn’t explicitly about sex, it doesn’t mean it can’t get a little nasty, but YG appears bored with any sort of intimacy and not willing to admit as much. As a hook, “That pussy got power” is limp. God bless Ty Dolla Sign for managing to redeem it. Even if his words aren’t any more meaningful than YG’s, he at least has conviction in his Auto-Tuned vocals.

The guestlist has typically been a highlight of a YG album, with a variety of rappers matching well with YG without upstaging him. On Stay Dangerous, it’s more of a mixed bag. A$AP Rocky and YG is a combo that seemed preordained, especially given how good Rocky is as a guest on other’s tracks. But his Dragon Ball Z and Brady Bunch-referencing verse on ‘Handgun’ just doesn’t work. First guest Jay 305 gets the worst feature out of the way quickly with “Yeah, sexy lil vegan want it right now/She don't even eat meat, but she gon' eat it now.”

The star-studded ‘Big Bank’ fares better. It won’t change anyone’s mind about 2 Chainz, Big Sean, or Nicki Minaj, but at least 2 Chainz gives us “Big sack, a lotta hoes like Santa’ and “Big shit like a dinosaur did it.” The two best songs, (with features or otherwise) ‘666’ and ‘Too Brazy,’ are paired together. On the Mike WiLL Made-It-produced former, YoungBoy Never Broke Again doesn’t let his young age keep him from realizing his problems matter. On the latter, Mozzy has by far the best chemistry with YG (“Ayy, we been waitin' two days, where the package at?/Middle fingers to the law when they paddy wag”). If they haven’t considered recording a collaborative full-length effort, they definitely should.

It isn’t just the guests or quality production that make these tracks successful. YG sounds like he’s not censoring himself, giving a more stream-of-conscious flow on ‘666.’ It has a depressed mood but not an apathetic one. How could someone bold enough to sound tough while saying “I’m strapped up. I’m too much for you poop butts” be apathetic? Unfortunately, even when YG is getting candid about his day-to-day struggles, he doesn’t always pull off the impact he seems to intend. His anxieties about his relationship with his daughter on penultimate cut ‘Deeper Than Rap’ should put a lump in your throat. So, why does it feel like such a shrug?

The benefits of being as bool and balm as YG are numerous, but it can be difficult to connect with listeners beyond a surface level. He doesn’t need to hop on the emo rap bandwagon and a more stoic presence is always welcome, but this feels like the first YG album that’s coasting on reputation rather than inspiration. He’s (purportedly) telling us to “stay dangerous.” Hopefully next time, he’ll give it a shot.