Young Thug has long been a divisive character in hip-hop. People complain that he sounds funny, he acts funny, and he dresses funny. We are now a good 2 years (and hundreds of songs) into his meteoric ascension to mainstream consciousness. I felt it was fitting, especially before his rumored name change to No, My Name is Jeffery, to put together the Young Thug ‘Greatest Hits’ so far. Something to finally explain to the Young Thug doubters, who have somehow blissfully ignored all evidence of Thug’s greatness up to this point, definitively why the Atlanta native is rap royalty. Unfortunately, I was not the guy who could adequately put this together. To create the mix and write about what Young Thug means to him, I employed the talents of Sun-Ui Yum, a rising junior at Harvard and an expert on all things Young Thug.
Written by Sun-Ui Yum. Follow him on Twitter here.
I think the first rap song I ever cared about was “Stronger.” The first rap album I ever listened to was My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy, and the first rap artist whose every move I followed in as uniquely comprehensively as Twitter push notifications allows for is certainly Kanye West. Watch the Throne is the first album I ever stayed up all night in bed to listen to, and Yeezus is the first album for which I scoured YouTube for live videos of live DJ performances of unreleased songs. I think I knew every word to “New Slaves” months before the album. I’m not sure when that singular fixation shifted away from Kanye West for me, but the moment I realized it came earlier this year, when I couldn’t listen to The Life of Pablo without thinking of Slime Season 3.
I don’t really think it’s fair to make any sort of argument that Young Thug is a better artist than Kanye West – I’m sure there is one somewhere, and almost certainly one that I could formulate, but not one that I could comfortably write and get behind and stay behind, especially as I look at the list of Billboard Hot 100 singles under Kanye West on Wikipedia. What I do know is that Young Thug songs have logged significantly more plays than Kanye West songs in my iTunes, that Young Thug is the reference point around which all other artists rotate for me, and when the rare moment strikes that whatever music I’m listening to doesn’t click and I would almost prefer to be in silence, Young Thug drags me out of the pit without fail.
It has always been a pretty definitive fact that Young Thug can rap circles around people (just listen to how he winds up, then unravels on “Mine”), but it is increasingly clear that he has legitimate, legitimate hits in the arsenal. Kanye West knows, Travi$ Scott knows, Gucci Mane always knew – so does T.I., Usher, and Tinashe. It has also always been pretty clear that Thug has pushed the boundary, and everyone has followed – but we didn’t know that he was pushing those boundaries in 2016 with music that was recorded in 2013. At some point, his new project Jeffery is going to drop under some name. It will likely be the newest music Young Thug has ever recorded and released under a project. While it is clear that Thug is only moving up, it is impossible to predict in which direction he will veer. Will he be a full-blown pop star? A Travi$ Scott that simmers just under the radio radar? A cult hero? That is why this is the most important milestone of Young Thug’s career, a clear demarcation with a before-and-after. Who knows what it will be exactly? You just know it will be good.
Original image by Harley Weir
Denmark’s own Soleima is a burgeoning pop star with two potential hits to her name. The first is “Wasted,” a distorted pop ode to poolside inebriation. The second is “Once Was,” which with an equally distorted chorus, brings a one-sided conversation with an ex to musical life. Both songs are instantly digestible nuggets of pop gold with just enough computer generated effects to keep things consistently surprising.
The terms “rapper” and “singer” are great blanket terms that help you understand an artist before you press play on their music. The problem is in 2016 the rappers are singers and the singers are rappers. Miami artist Ali Coyote is kind of both and neither. He has that Young Thug vocal versatility where he sounds so different from track to track yet is instantly recognizable. Like Thugger, he uses his voice as an instrument that bends and warps with the beat’s trajectory. The seemingly limitless nature of his vocals is like a superpower. Best of all, he uses this superpower to convey emotion (see his best song yet, “Brothers & Sisters”), which ultimately should be the goal of all music.
With Lollapalooza about to hit Chicago like a fiery, musical comet this weekend, hundreds of thousands of concertgoers will flood Grant Park to witness the likes of Paul McCartney, Metallica, Florence + The Machine, Sam Smith, and The Weeknd among others, rock the fuck out. Sure, the headlining acts typically prove to be the best sets. They’re polished, have an expensive stage design, and possess a catalog of hits that, in some cases (cough Sir Paul cough), stretches decades.
But what about the ‘little’ guys? The blog-certified up-and-comers. The indies about to boil to mainstream. The sub-headliners that could very well be taking the main stage in the not so distant future. Not to worry, we got your back. Here are the 10 Must-See Acts That Aren’t Headliners at Lollapalooza this year, conveniently broken down by day and set time.
Believe it or not, Garrett Borns (or simply BØRNS) earned his chops as a professional magician before he hit it big with jams like “10,000 Emerald Pools.” Don’t miss his groovy, psychedelic brand of pop at Lollapalooza this year. He’s sure to have a trick or two up his sleeve.
Young Thug (6:50-7:30)
Thugga Thugga has been a surefire hit machine between his own cuts and guest verses alike. His eccentric flow, fashion-forward style, and summer-friendly beats will make for a must-see set on Friday night. I know there’s gonna be good times.
Sylvan Esso (7:45-8:30)
If you’re searching for something that’s equal parts folky and electronic, look no further than the duo Sylvan Esso. Chilled out, synthesized beats will meet seductive female vocals at this set. Expect lots of eyes closed swaying and swooning.
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I think this is one of my favorite mixes. It is everything that’s good about hip-hop right now. You got Jon Waltz-collaborator NOVA moving to vocals from behind the boards. You got Bobby Raps going ape shit on a record. After that, Young Thug implements a game-changing autotune on “Halftime,” and then OVO-affiliate Jimmy Johnson (or Jimmy Prime) rips into a slow-burning anthem. BROCKHAMPTON artist Matt Champion and Jon Waltz made a 9-minute song, and it’s perfect. I could go on, but you should probably just listen and smoke a lot of pot. Happy 4/20. Stay ~wavy~.
*Missing track 3 (“Halftime” by Young Thug)
“Let us read, and let us dance; these two amusements will never do any harm to the world.”
Do yourself a favor and make it to the end of this playlist. The Hood Internet’s meld of Baauer and Schoolboy Q is a MUST listen. Keep on dancing my friends.