By Harrison Smith
Young Thug has a new mixtape on the way and this should come as a surprise to no one. The hyper-prolific rapper, gender-role annihilator, stick-thin fashion icon, irreverent quasi-avant singer and wild card of Atlanta’s skyrocketing trap scene has been continuously rising in fame after the big bang success of his 2014 hit track “Stoner.” However, this man is no washed up Wiz Khalifa weed-meme. Thugger has released 14 mixtapes in the past five years, nearly five times as many as Kanye (and that’s including the collaboration Watch the Throne! Which sucked!).
Anyway, if you don’t care about Young Thug yet, I can give you a few reasons why you should immediately begin getting hyped for his upcoming mixtape Slime Season 3 (the third pillar of his slime triumvirate) or his long-awaited first studio album, Hy!£UN35.
Despite his insanely generic name, Young Thug is certainly 2016’s most eccentric and rule-breaking rapper. Pitchfork’s article “Chaos Theory” revealed Thug’s possible synesthesia, with his producer claiming that he had forgone lyric sheets, bringing only paper with squiggles and colors drawn on it into the DJ booth. Another insightful source is GQ’s recent interview, in which we learn that Young Thug hardly eats, receives a shot of vitamins from an in-house doctor once a month, casually takes MDMA before his shows, and is willing to gamble for long periods of time, not sleeping and starts fights over someone not holding open the door for him. From seeing him in a live setting I do not doubt that this lifestyle (no pun intended) is tough on the man. Young Thug became disillusioned with performing roughly 25 minutes into his set and spent the other 20 silently half-mocking the audience along to a vocal track.
Although the article paints Thug in a relatively nihilistic and cold manner, he seems far from the xanax-fueled depression that fellow contemporary Future spills over bitter hi-hats and empty snare hits. Just from looking at his social media presence, one can immediately see the love the Young Thug has for his many children, whether it be singing along with them in the car, or snuggling with them in his mansion. Social media is crucial to him for another reason: the revelatory discarding of gender norms. The best part of it all might be his nonchalance, whether it be wearing dresses on instagram, Hooters tank tops in his music videos, or calling his male friends cute/bae/hubby/babe. The contextual importance of these actions cannot be understated. In a music scene where homophobia is rampant, where the same people that Thug calls “hubby” are imprisoned for attempting to execute Lil Wayne (this really happened), where rappers are killed in the studio (R.I.P. Bankroll Fresh), Thug’s actions lose the insensitive writer’s description as “nihilistic” instead prove his fearless dedication to personal freedom.
This freedom is undeniably, constantly present in his music. Young Thug is unbound by traditional structures for melody, uninterested in cliche metaphor: “Booty fat like she eat asses” or “Servin’ great white like I’m feedin’ sharks” or “Cocaine white like Justin Bieber bitch… I want your pizza Little Caesar’s bitch.” Listen to Lifestyle, his hit with Rich Gang for a sample of that beautifully alien autotune just tearing through a major scale. In many ways, Young Thug is the alien to the hip hop community; he dresses different, he raps with an ever shifting cadence, his aforementioned ear for hilariously wonky and verging on the avant-garde hooks and rhymes is like Lil Wayne speedballing, etc, etc. On the day Bowie died, one music writer cried out to Thug on twitter, “save us starman… give us Slime Season III.” There was little doubt in my mind at that moment that Young Thug could very well be the next starman, a vital torch carrier for Bowie’s sexual and musical influence, the limitless weirdo that we so desperately need.