By Alec Matuszak
Hip-hop has evolved greatly since the boom-bap era in the early 90s. No longer are the instrumentals under the artists your traditional bass line in which the bass kicks in every few seconds with some slaps mixed in for effect. The sounds are different now; they are more infectious. The melodies are different; more intricate, with several layers of instruments stacked on top of one another to create a catchy tune that will have people humming for weeks. More technology provides more tools at a producer’s disposal. Producers have played a very important role in shaping the career of Young Thug.
Young Thug, born Jeffrey Williams, is a 24 year-old rapper from Atlanta, Georgia. With the help of fellow rapper Gucci Mane, Thug was given a record deal in 2013 by 1017 Brick Squad Records, and quickly rose to fame from the hit single “Lifestyle.” Young Thug is unlike many other rappers in the industry. His voice is different to say the least. He uses it almost like an instrument. He does not have quite the range or control of a trained R&B singer but what he does with his voice is quite impressive. He almost effortlessly varies his cadence on each of his songs, which keeps his material from sounding too similar.
The producers a rapper choses to hire are as important as the actual rapper to the music. Young Thug definitely has his favorites. On “Slime Season 3” (the final installment in his Slime Season mixtape trilogy) he frequently brings in fellow Atlanta-based producer London on da Track, as well as heavy-hitter Mike Will Made It and beat maker Isaac Flame. It’s hard to mistake who produces each song because the producers insert their “tags” or names into the tracks that they produce, usually before the beat drops. (London’s tag is “We got London on da track.”
The mixtape starts out with a song titled “With Them.” Although this title seems terribly unoriginal, the track itself is absolutely not. Produced by Mike Will Made It, this bouncy beat features some faint piano sounds that can be heard over the bass. Lyricism is not Thug’s forte but maybe thats what he’s going for; the most abstract lines that somehow blend together to make a cohesive song. The second line in this song makes no logical sense but thats almost what Young Thug fans come to expect. “I just went hunting/ I found me
a rabbit / I picked out the carrot,” he says. Your guess is as good as anyones as to what this means, but the way he says it just sounds nice. Williams’ energy can be heard through his delivery, which is one of the best aspects of his rapping style.
If the first track isn’t for you, then you probably wont like the rest of this mixtape, and thats okay. “Trap rap” (rapping about selling drugs or living a violent gangster lifestyle) definitely isn’t for everyone. It’s explicit, and it’s raw. When Young Thug raps about drinking unhealthy amounts of cough syrup to feel a buzz, it’s believable. When he changes almost every word that starts with the letter C to the letter B because of his affiliation with the blood gang rather than the crips, that is odd, but interesting.
It is certainly understandable why some people may dismiss this type of music altogether. For many, it may seem like he is saying absolutely nothing and just cursing his way through the song for three minutes. For those who are already a fan of this genre, and Young Thug in particular, it is his best work yet.