Young Thug’s “Weirdo” Take on the Music Industry

Young Thug’s third full-length release this year,Jeffrey”, showcases Young Thug’s experimental rapping style. Sometimes referred to as the “rap weirdo,” with 76 solo tracks out in the last two years, he doesn’t lack in content.

His newest production is more pop-infused than his last few mix tapes; many of the songs with smooth melodies underlying otherwise thunderous trap beats. With high production value, his fading, druggy singing and rapping gives each song a tense energy. At any point it seems each song could collapse into ad hoc noise before the hook comes in to save it.

Thug’s wheezing voice regularly fades rapping into singing and vice-versa; at times his vocals are indecipherable, other times in your face and clear. The transition in vocals gives Young Thug a drug-infused, lazical vibe highlighting the flow as much as the lyrics. Similar to some of Hunter Thompson’s best novels, which can disorient and make you feel high, “Jeffrey” is likewise both alluring and ambiguous; forcing you to double-take and ask, “What the hell is this?”

In the track “Webbie,” typical in boasting sex and drugs, Young Thug also attacks politicians as fake; even though he’s a “troublemaker man” his expensive Patek Phillipe wristwatch protects him: “They don’t play with that.”

The title’s mixtape refers to Young Thug’s real name, Jeffrey Williams. Each of the nine track titles are named after other pop figures, such as Wyclef Jean and Kanye West, who’ve influenced Young Thug in his career. While giving homage to pop icons—perhaps the most eye-catching reference is track seven, “Harambe”—his sound is distinctly his own.

Not just referencing artists, the mixtape also features guest appearances from Gucci Mane, Quavo, Travis Scott, Wyclef Jean and Young Scooter.

In referencing pop figures, “Jeffrey” is Thug’s take on his surroundings—molly-fueled, fame, sex, high fashion amid high spending—music always present. Aware of the music industry around him, he acknowledges and absorbs it into his personal style to spit back a distinct, warping and cyclic sound.

Originally titled “No, My Name is Jeffrey”, the iconic names in each song title underlie a question throughout the party tracks: who is Young Thug and what’s his impact on the industry? In the last track’s chorus Wyclef Jean sings, “Jeeefffrey” in the background over and over. His impact on the industry, and his interest in doing so, is apparent. Young Thug is creating his style within the industry, and his weirdo flow proves a good album to kick back to.