Thursday, January 17th, 2019

Young Thug: JEFFERY

Posted on November 12, 2016 in Arts & Culture
By USM Free Press

By Bradford Spurr

On his most refined and provocative release Young Thug stands out from a crowded sea of Hip Hop and R&B artists. Young Thug is slim, tall, and only 25 years old, which makes him one of the youngest trendsetters in popular rap music today. But Young Thug is more than just his instantly recognizable ambiguous singing, or what I like to think of as the ‘mumble’ popularized by others like Future, Desiigner, and Fetty Wap. JEFFERY is important to more than simply the state of things in the current rap landscape, it also serves as a reinforcing visual declaration to Thugger’s own outspoken views and ideas about gender roles, equality, and what exactly it means to be young, black, and popular. The cover art is simple, it is a tall and slender figure hidden under a large and almost umbrella-esque hat that matches the model’s dress of  ruffled purple/blue fabric. The model is Young Thug, something people probably wouldn’t be able to tell unless they already new. In an industry where Frank Ocean’s bisexual identity caused the largest waves seen in the music business in recent years, it is odd, or rather refreshing, to see modern rap evolving into something greater than gangster grandstanding with largely misogynistic overtones (i.e Taylor Swift would still like a word with Kanye West, phone call or not). I liked Young Thug before his latest album, his contributions to Travis Scott’s incredible Birds in the Trap Sing McKnight, his early 2016 release Slime Season 3 marked a resurgence of a post-mixtape artist. Chance, The Rapper launched an astonishing independent rap career off of the backs of three mixtapes, mark my words Channo will win a Grammy this year for his efforts on Coloring Book.

Every song on the 10 track album is named after a person Young Thug recognizes to be influences ranging from Wyclef Jean, to Guwop (BRICK SQUAD!), to Kanye, and most importantly Harambe (rest in peace you beautiful gorrilla). “Wyclef Jean” and “Floyd Mayweather” are definite highpoints for the album with “Kanye West” being a particular favorite of mine due to Thug’s crooning and simple cries and voice samples in the background that create a complex and consuming sound palette to an otherwise tame and restricted song. What I think is most important about Young Thug, and note that this is plain and simple just an opinion, is his refusal to acknowledge industry standards by, say, wearing a dress on his album cover and by carving out his own unique and niche sound. Is this album a My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy or Take Care? No. But it doesn’t have to be a ground shaking release because what it serves to show us is that we should expect great things from this Atlanta rapper who has been on the seen for barely five years. Overall, soft 8/10, give this a listen on Spotify (I do not condone your torrenting) before weekend plans and make sure you pay attention to this man. At the end of the day JEFFERY serves as a perfect placeholder as we wait for releases from Danny Brown and Pusha T. And if all else fails give an early summer release, Kaytranada’s 99.9% another listen, it just won the Polaris prize for 2016 which honors the best Canadian album of the year, eat your heart out Drake and Justin Bieber.


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