Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Young Thug, Birdman, Rich Homie Quan [extended]

  • I Came From Nothing [self-released download, 2011] **
  • I Came From Nothing 2 [self-released download, 2011] *
  • I Came From Nothing 3 [self-released download, 2012] B+
  • 1017 Thug [self-released download, 2013] B+
  • Black Portland [self-released download, 2014] A
  • Birdman Presents Rich Gang: The Tour [self-released download, 2014] *
  • Purple Album: People Usually Ridicule the Powerful Lead by Example [1017 12-inch, 2014] *
  • The Barter 6 [300 Entertainment/Atlantic, 2015] **
  • Slime Season 3 [300 Entertainment/Atlantic, 2016] **
  • I'm Up [300 Entertainment/Atlantic, 2016] **
  • Jeffery [300 Entertainment/Atlantic, 2016] A-
  • Beautiful Thugger Girls [Atlantic, 2017] *
  • So Much Fun [300 Entertainment/Atlantic, 2019] B+

See Also:

Consumer Guide Reviews:

Young Thug: I Came From Nothing [self-released download, 2011]
Cheerful zurped-up trap-rap deepens up if you listen up ("Rip," "Achieve") **

Young Thug: I Came From Nothing 2 [self-released download, 2011]
Youngblood makes so many funny noises he can't convince me he's a "Neiman Marcus shopper"--which is a good thing ("#Twitter Song," "I Know") *

Young Thug: I Came From Nothing 3 [self-released download, 2012]
The moralist in me scoffs at the rationalization that trap-rap "street" tropes are merely conventions--a song called "Molly Workin'" has to hook harder than this one to make me forget that molly generates more fellatio providers than normally occur in nature. But the hedonist in me won't deny that gangsters grok pop's Saturday night hustle in a way moralists cannot. The turning point on this freewheeling get-together is the "birthday bash" Thug announces midway through on "I'm Paid," after which tracks that were already coming thick and fast pick up speed as the party gets wilder and louder. One skittering synthbeat accelerates off another, "Angry Sex" straight on to "I Like What Ya Doin'." You want to know Jeffrey Williams's principles? How 'bout "No homo/We party though/We get gnarly though/We smoke dro/We fuck our hoes/We rock shows/That's what we here fo'"? "Time of Ya Life," that one's called, and given how much time he can count on, it should be. B+

Young Thug: 1017 Thug [self-released download, 2013]
Midway in, the sonic breakout "Picachu" begins a five-out-of-six run interrupted only by a song from a Gucci Mane not yet put safely away--chorus fans may actually prefer the lubricious "Miss U" or the sanguinary "Trigger Finger" to "Picachu" itself. But don't let whatever noxious potion you're vicariously sipping cloud your judgment, because otherwise this is just a quality mixtape. However much you enjoy the bombed recipe for disaster "2 Cups Stuffed" or the stoned geography lesson "Nigeria," it's a road to no place special with a lot of signposts on it. B+

Young Thug & Bloody Jay: Black Portland [self-released download, 2014]
It's catchy. It's amoral. It's seductive. It's funny as shit. It's mixtape-era Lil Wayne sans, er, redeeming social value, by which I guess I mean wordplay. Over beats both spare and weird, greatest alien alive Thug trades japes with the lower-pitched and more consonant-friendly ATLien Jay: vile promises as regards sex, violence, and the joy of cooking, some brutally boilerplate and some scabrously imaginative, delivered with purple-derped, rosé-dazed, dizzed-out, carpet-soiling, carpet-chewing insouciance. It's so far beyond Thug's strangest full-lengths--although not works of genius like "Picachu" or "Angry Sex"--that I was tempted to credit it to Bloody Jay until I gave up on his Get It in Blood mixtape halfway through. True, Jay does deliver such indelible hooks as "I don't give no fucks" and "We bang we bang we bang," but musically these sound like Thug's even so. Jay does, however, embody the overarching theme: Bloods the gang rather than blood the squandered bodily fluid, the kind of Bloods who pronounce "cool" "bool" because hard C's are bursewords, or so Thug tells us. You should be glad you can't make out the lyrics. Bloods, Crips--most humans don't see much difference. A

Birdman Presents Rich Gang: The Tour [self-released download, 2014]
New-gen big-tymers pledge thug love as they target that golden terlet in the charts ("730," "Milk Marie") *

Gucci Mane Featuring Young Thug: Purple Album: People Usually Ridicule the Powerful Lead by Example [1017 12-inch, 2014]
Gucci's example patched in from jail, meaning more Thug and better music than the billing suggests ("Riding Around," "Hurt Nobody") *

Young Thug: The Barter 6 [300 Entertainment/Atlantic, 2015]
Running one of his inscrutable jokes on the major label ("Can't Tell," "Halftime") **

Young Thug: Slime Season 3 [300 Entertainment/Atlantic, 2016]
Best line is "Why not risk life when it's gon' keep goin'," which means pretty much what you think it means even if he doesn't mean it only we're not in this for the meanings--I hope ("With Them," "Drippin'") **

Young Thug: I'm Up [300 Entertainment/Atlantic, 2016]
That "germ in it"/"worm in it" rhyme graces a Latinish number pledging his readiness to die for his "people," who we'll know when we see them ("F Cancer," "Family") **

Young Thug: Jeffery [300 Entertainment/Atlantic, 2016]
The one wan joke I noticed must have been so beside the point it slipped between the cracks, because now I can't find it. But here as never before, Black Portland included, the former Jeffery Lamar Williams makes black comedy out of irrepressible sound, cutting the fool with such delight that I found myself not just engaged but agape. Nude or digital, speaking or chanting, narrating or bragging, exclaiming or explaining, sobbing or gasping or chuckling or cackling, his hoohoos and melismas and blahs and mwas and frogcroaks and put-puts are the message. The nearest he comes to thematic embellishment is when he barks the keywords "work" and "earn" in the Rihanna song "RiRi," which in other respects is no more about the superstar than "Harambe" is about the gorilla. The main ostensible subjects are sex and luxury goods, and admit it--they both beat opioid addiction and killing people. A-

Young Thug: Beautiful Thugger Girls [Atlantic, 2017]
Singsong porn from a purple people eater who's seldom as funny as he used to be and sometimes funnier than he wants to be ("Family Don't Matter," "Take Care") *

Young Thug: So Much Fun [300 Entertainment/Atlantic, 2019]
From the unusually irresistible lead "Just How It Is" to the J. Cole- and Barack Obama-certified closer "The London," his first "official" album after over a dozen "mixtapes" of similar sonic and social signature is certainly top-tier, although I still prefer the wacko Cluds-and-Brips Black Portland. In alphabetical order, it's alienated, all-embracing, catchy, complacent, crass, dirty, dissolute, facile, fucked up, funny, hedonistic, insular, licentious, light-hearted, materialistic, mumbly, rich, scared, sexist, "trap," unpretentious, woozy, and wrong. Almost a decade in, I do enjoy and even respect the fella. But I don't admire him. Not enough there there. B+