The first time I remember hearing Young Thug was in the summer between junior and senior year of high school. I was riding in the car with my friend Calvin on a blaring hot day, and we were listening to music off his phone when a song with a crazy high-pitched voice popped out of the speakers. I’d never heard anything like Thugger’s voice before. His voice seems like it should be annoying but is instead attractive because of its singularity. He can drag out his voice to create noise unlike any other rapper. I still haven’t found an adjective that does his style justice; alieny? Maybe? Is that a word? [Editor’s note: Definitely not, but I catch your drift.]
Regardless of one’s opinion of Young Thug there’s no doubting his ascension in popularity, especially over the past year. “Wyclef Jean” and Travis Scott collab, “Pick up the Phone” have rocketed him into the public eye. He is similar to Travis in the sense that he has helped popularize trap and has become heavily involved with fashion on top of his music. Thugger has recently been featured on the songs of many heavyweights of the music industry including Travis Scott, Drake, Calvin Harris and Kanye West.
The attraction of Thugger’s music has never been his lyricism. He has gotten slightly better in this regard as heard on “Safe,” in which he talks about spending too much money on security while on tour because he’s afraid of getting shot and not making it back to his family. I hope that this perspective of his music continues to evolve because if he could make songs with his voice that are actually about something important he could continue to rise, eventually becoming one of the greatest rappers in the game.
While he is much better known now than he was a few years ago, the quality of his music, new and old, has only improved with his fame, some of his old shit is still some of my favorite trap / mumble rap of all time.
The first two songs he’s featured on: “I Know There’s Gonna Be (Good Times)” where Thugger’s voice rides over Jamie xx’s production beautifully and features a “skrt” that lasts four fucking bars. I didn’t know I wanted a four bar skrt until I heard it, and now I know that I couldn’t live without it; and “Heatstroke”, which I cannot believe hasn’t taken off by now. Produced by Calvin Harris, featuring Pharrell and Ariana Grande, this song has summer anthem written all over it, with Thugger carrying the track for the most part.
The rest of the songs are my favorite Thugger songs that the casual fan may not have heard before and are some of the most easily accessible songs in his catalogue of music. It’s hard to get into them at first, but once one gets used to his voice, it’s most likely they’ll find themselves banging their head just like me. I limited it to songs available on Spotify, so songs on his old mixtapes are not included, but there are gems there too.
“Guwop” features Migos members Quavo and Offset, with all three rappers riding over the beat in a melodic way that complements each of their individual styles. “Kanye West” is one of the best examples of Thugger using his voice’s potential as he both sings and inserts strange noises between his bars to create a sound only he can. “With Them” is the first song off Slime Season 3 and features Thugger rapping instead of singing over the beat. The way he bounces over the beat always has me banging my head no matter how embarrassed it makes me while studying in the fishbowl, but I just can’t help it. Check out these and more essential Young Thug songs below: