Young Thug is both the antithesis of 2015’s rap scene and its greatest product. In a year defined by responses to racial tension (I’m looking at you, To Pimp A Butterfly), he seemed completely uninterested in making any sort of social commentary. While other heavy-hitters struggled with relevance (Lil Wayne) and respect (Drake), Thugger dominated by just not giving a fuck. His unpretentious attitude felt refreshing in a sea of serious rappers, his rapid product output provided a stark contrast to artists leaving us in the dark about release dates and his all around eccentricity ushered in a completely new style of hip hop.
But before reading, please note that this is not a list of the best Young Thug songs of the year but of the best Young Thug songs I’ve heard this year. The dude puts out a new track every other day, and they can be pretty difficult to sift through. I could easily copy and paste the full Barter 6 track list on here and call it a day (because that album is just straight bangers), but that wouldn’t be doing the rapper justice. Instead, I sorted through that and his other prominent projects of 2015, Slime Season and Slime Season 2. And while this list is undoubtedly premature — he’ll definitely put out more music during December — these songs remain some of his most significant of the year.
10. “Be Me See Me”
As the lone Metro Boomin-produced track on an otherwise London On Da Track-dominated Slime Season, it makes sense that this song stands out, if for no reason other than its production. The fact that it has an aggressive Thugger rapping over it just makes it even better.
I love Thug songs that could almost be sad but then aren’t because it’s Young Thug, you know? Like, you can still get drunk to this song. And not “crying alone in your room” drunk, but, like, drunk drunk. But really, this is as introspective as we’ve seen the rapper, but still offers some of his classic lyricism: “Kuna Matata I need you, I am a Mufasa genius / Baby come fuck for no reason.” It’s oh so satisfying.
8. “With That”
To be honest, a lot of this song doesn’t make sense. And when it does, chances are you can’t understand it anyways. The harsh switching of flows could make it hard to swallow if not for the syrupy production that coats it with an irresistible sweetness.
7. “Hey, I”
To the surprise of many, Young Thug is quite the romantic. In the most melodic and strangely linear track we’ve gotten from the rapper, he sings about a woman that’s “ready for a kiddy.” He lets his guard down with her — “I might just tell this hoe my secret” — and even swears off other women — “I, want nothing to do with none of these lil bitches.” But of course, it ends with the song’s most heartfelt line: “I’m going down on her hard till I’m partition.” Can someone write a song like that about me?
Despite leaking months before its official release on Slime Season, I didn’t hear “Power” until a video of a little girl singing it went viral. Thank god I did though, because this song features one of my favorite lines on the tape: “She sucked like eight dicks, I call her Octagon.”
Isaac Flame’s production is flawless. Thug’s verses are some of his strongest. This song just straight bangs.
4. “Raw (Might Just)”
This ballad — if you want to call it that — is everything I didn’t know I wanted from Young Thug. Who would have thought any of us would enjoy him crooning “L-O-V-EEEEEEE” over a chopped and screwed beat? But it works, and it’s beautiful. “A wise man once told me nothing” is one of the most profound insights I’ve heard in a while. Damn.
Behind “Can’t Tell,” this is unarguably the most commercially successful song on Barter 6. Maybe because it’s one of the safest efforts on the album. Maybe because the repetitive hook (“Got me a check, I got a check”) is catchy as fuck. Or maybe because it features this series of lines: “No, they won't tease on that dick / They won't read on that dick, they won't leash on that dick / Don't Felicia that dick, Mamacita that dick / They gon' snitch on that dick/And she screamin’ loud, she can’t secret that dick / Mama a beast on that dick.” Whatever the reason, this is the song you should show someone when you’re introducing them to Young Thug.
2. “Best Friend”
I felt incredibly tempted to give “Best Friend” the number one spot on this list, just because I can’t go a day without playing it. The sound of soothing strings being plucked begins the song and then ushers it into a cacophony of other noises that serve to both shock and satisfy you. They build and build and build … and never really resolve. But that’s classic Thugger; we’re never going to make sense of him or his sound. And do we really want to?
Despite its release in early 2015, this track is a culmination of Young Thug’s entire year. Following legal issues surrounding his album’s title — he tried to take the name Carter 6 from Lil Wayne — and press scrutiny surrounding his sexuality — he’s often seen cross dressing — Thug assures us all he knows exactly what he’s doing. He doesn’t give a shit about the beef with Wayne (“Got 100 mil flat like my motherfucking idol / I might eat it, I might lick it, but I swear I’ll never bite ‘em”) and acknowledges his own heavy influence on pop culture (“Every time I dress myself it goes mother fucking viral”). And it features some of the most interesting production and the most powerful rapping on Barter 6. The beat keeps changing and his flow keeps switching; I can’t follow either. He doesn’t stop for air, and we don’t want him to. I could listen to him rap forever.