Catch ’em down bad
Beat ’em with a bat, hashtag that
I call it New Jack, yeah, yeah
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Bitch, I got a blue Jag
I make that cash talk
Bitch, I got a new house
You wanna get in, need a passcode nigga
I will never be as cool as Young Thug is. I will never have the confidence to release a rap mixtape while wearing a Edo-era-esque dress, looking like a next level samurai. I will never be brave enough to release tracks titled after my idols, unironically naming one “Harambe” (dicks out). And for all of these reasons I think Young Thug is by far one of the best artists to explode into popularity in the last half decade.
Let’s work through this, one piece at a time, as there is a lot to decode. First things first, the dress. Designed by Alessandro Trincone, it is quite possibly one of the biggest indicators as to how Young Thug transverses gender divides; he brings androgyny, intersexualism, and aesexualism into the mainstream rap lexicon. Bringing haute couture into an industry that was dominated by a singular image less that 15 years ago is a brave move, and one I can’t think of any other artists replicating. It’s also the perfect launching point for just how fluid Thuggers music can be.
As an example, in “Harambe” (we’ll get to the name later) Thugger bombastically boasts about taking care of his own family, before delivering a voice-crackingly desperate line about how he’ll kill every member of your family if he has to. This flexibility in subject is only rivalled by how he can bend his voice. In the next track, “Weebie”, he replaces his rage-fuelled delivery with almost soulful singing. It’s this division of styles, attempting various vocal chops without fear of how it might be interpreted that makes Thugger so interesting. While the delivery method he uses is impeccable, it’s clear that it’s secondary to the message he’s trying to get across.
Ok, the titles. Naming each track after an influence in your life is hard, as it will undoubtedly draw comparisons to the artist / individual they’re named after. Yet Thugger navigates this masterfully, adapting each track to contain callbacks to each person. “RiRi” uses the repetition of the word “work” to parallel Rihanna’s track of the same name. “Guwop” uses Gucci Mane’s comedic influences and weaves them with drug slang. And “Harambe”, well, from a literal interpretation has a lot of references to shooting in it, but at the same time is a perfect representation of Young Thug himself. To a lot of people he started life as a meme, but he has managed to enter the wider world as a discussion point with no correct answer—a niche that has entered the modern mainstream, something which you can’t say with certainty is a joke or not, delving so deep into post-post-irony that you don’t really know what’s real anymore.
But before this review derails any further, let’s take a step back. JEFFERY is a stylistically varied, exceedingly modern release. It showcases Young Thug incredibly well; his vocal range, flow flexibility, and ability to create music that is representative of a moment in time are all put in the limelight. If you’re looking to get into Young Thug this is an excellent starting point before heading into his more avant-garde releases.