Quick Rating: 8.8/10
Young Thug. Where does one begin? Has there been a rapper this popular with such polarized fan reception? Think about it, do you really know anyone who kind of likes Young Thug? No one thinks most of his songs are generally okay. He has a sizeable cult following and possibly just as big a population that cannot fathom a single reason he’s at all, let alone very popular. Detractors say at best that you can’t understand anything he’s saying and at worst that he’s ruining rap music. Fans would tell critics to pay better attention and they’ll find shockingly creative albethey highly peculiar lyrics set and timed perfectly to a signature beat style.
The 16th installment in his five-year career, JEFFERY (or No, My Name is Jeffery; no one really knows) is the result of quite an evolution. Young Thug doesn’t exactly change, he tinges. And grows. Each Mixtape since Barter 6 has offered up a different style or vibe, and while Slime Season 2 and I’m up may have been steps backward, his overall progression has been strong. JEFFERY is a clean, cohesive 10-track tribute to his heroes that certainly continues the upward trend.
The coverart is perfect. Lots of people hate it, but if you know who and what Young Thug is, you just can’t. It is bizarre. It is sexually ambiguous, unashamedly artistic and somewhere between beautiful and unsettling. The artist and cover are perfectly synthesized. It answers the question “Who is Jeffery?” and answers “Look. Listen.”
Take a look, now let’s listen, track by track.
- Wyclef Jean – 10/10
Thugger starts as he typically does, strong. This wavy, Atlanta-Reggie track provides a nice introduction to the mixtape as a whole. It has a familiar tone; we know he hasn’t completely changed his style, at least not to the point of the first track being overly foreign. Having said that, the heavy island rhythm hints that he will be playing around in this one.
- Floyd Mayweather (ft. Travi$ Scott, Gucci Mane and Gunna) – 8/10
Here we are, back to basics. This song could fit in perfectly on any of his previous projects. It’s reminiscent of tracks like Knocked Off, Thief in the Night, and Slime Shit. Much more hard and dark than artistic and flamboyant.
- Swizz Beats – 7/10
As the title may suggest, this one is a bit more about the beat than the lyrics. His patented shreaking/screaming, varying tempos and repetition are a little disorganized, but over a very intriguing underwater sounding complex yet often understated. While this is one of the mixtape’s more forgettable pieces, he gives us a brief intro to a new gravely deep voice he’s trying out.
- Future Swag – 7.5/10
As I said before, each song is named after one of Young Thug’s heroes. Most of them aren’t impressions per se, but this is as close as he gets. Future beat, Future lyrics, Future style. Fans of covers will like this one.
- RiRi – 7.5/10
Another one that would fit perfectly into Barter 6, this is a fun tribute to Rihanna. He references Work and even throws in a patented Rihanna voice crack or two. RiRi is one of the coolest connections of the title hero to the style of the song. It’s undoubtedly Young Thug to his core, but you certainly get why it’s called RiRi.
- Guwop (ft. Quavo, Offset and Young Scooter) – 9/10
Gucci Mane has to nearly top Thug’s list of heroes, and this song nearly tops JEFFERY. Just like Gucci, this tribute is pure Atlanta from the beat to the lyrics to the features. It really doesnt get much more Atlanta than the two Migos not in prison and Young Scooter, a man who named his daughter “Money.” With Guwop, I bet Young Thug made the real Guwop proud.
- Harambe – 8/10
Here’s some heavy concentration of experimentation. Thugger tries out an enraged screaming tone for almost the whole song. I think the title is about 25% an attempt to draw attention and 75% an apt title for a track in which Thug goes apeshit, so to speak.
- Webbie – 10/10
For me, this was the best song on the mixtape. It was so good I decided to check Webbie out. I couldn’t find any similarity between the track and its namesake. The only thing I can think of is Thug thinks Webbie is great, so his tribute song is great as well. I hope Young Thug continues with this slightly more upbeat style, because this one is truly a gem.
- Kanye West (ft. Wyclef Jean) – 8/10
This is another one that doesn’t exactly match its title. Unless I missed a relaxed, drum and piano based, borderline reggae Kanye album, the name seems unrelated. Kanye West doesn’t feel like a typical Young Thug song at all. It’s sort of… sweet. Theres a genuine, somber-yet-hopeful feel to it that we haven’t before seen from Thugger. You wouldn’t dance to this song, nor would you cry to it. But, I could easily see someone throwing it on for a rejuvenating walk. It’s almost reflective. Maybe it’s called Kanye West because Kanye too experiments so boldly. Either way it’s a solid, novel finish to a solid, novel mixtape.
Young Thug took plenty of risks on JEFFERY, and those of us who can’t get enough of him hope he will continue to do so with whatever comes next. Say what you want about him, but you can’t say he’s not brave. He wore a dress and an umbrella, and dropped unique bars over bold beats.
Huge leap, huge success.