Adam DePollo: Young Thug, Slavoj Žižek and the Art of Salad Dressing
You might think that this column will be about What a Time To Be Alive, because FutureDrake/LoveSounds is the collab of the century and that’s what I would write about if I took my job seriously. This column is not about What a Time to Be Alive, however, and that’s because it’s definitely a time to be alive, but so was last time and next time will probably be, too. I’m also not sure what strange astrological nonsense had to happen for me to get this job, so I’m still working out how to take it seriously. Right now that means drinking vending machine coffee and putting pictures of bathroom graffiti on my Snapchat story at 4 a.m., but all things are possible through the Based God, who, as we all know, works in mysterious ways (#TYBG).
In any case, we are in fact alive and, as Riff Raff once said, “time (time) goes by (goes by), it goes on (it goes on), and it don’t stop (don’t stop).” Winter changes to spring, spring changes to summer, and summer changes to Slime Season, the latest mixtape from Atlanta rapper/weirdo Young Thug, wherein we finally discover what Thugger orders at Chipotle. It’s the gotdamn salad, naturally.
Slime Season isn’t all that interesting other than the salad thing, but you’ll recall from my last column that I’m somewhat preoccupied with salads — albeit of the Dadaist word and Caesar word varieties — so I suspect that Young Thug and I might actually be speaking the same blanguage. That’s a good thing, I think, because I’ve been hung up on what the fuck he’s talking about in his song “I Got (feat. Peewee Longway)” since last September, and I really miss being able to sleep at night.
I’ll give you the lyrics to Thugger’s hook, just so we can all be on the same page:
“I got, bitches in the dirt like a fucking termite / And this bitch must think I’m green, but ho, I’m red like a car light / And him against me, babe I’ma win like a pipe / Now give me eight million, I come to the rescue! / Yeah, I’ma protect your heart just like a vest do / Yeah, I’m a prince I don’t wake up like the rest do / I’ma ride on your ho like she a Mongoose.”
There are a few places we could start, but I think the best might be to get the obvious out of the way — this shit is bananas. Completely batshit brazy (or crazy, for those of my readers who aren’t well-versed in blood talk). The rest of the track is equally insane, with Young Thug rapping about a potentially racist, mildly incestuous sex scene and forgetting the difference between his head and his penis before Peewee Longway shows up to spit a 24 bar paraphrase of everything else that happens in the song.
And yet, somehow all of that surrealist nonsense doesn’t really shock the conscience — it’s weird, but at the end of the day we’re left with a pretty standard trap song. Thugger spits his 24-bar verse, mentions the obligatory drug deals and luxury goods, and makes the traditional preposterous sexual boasts. In short, he follows all the rules.
Except there’s one spot where Young Thug does something truly obscene, and here he’s offending not only the trap gods, but also the entire western metaphysical tradition.
I’m talking, of course, about that “I’ma win like a pipe” line.
Now, before you give up on me and go see what my friends in the sports section have to say about sportball, take a moment to consider Slovenian Marxist philosopher/human sinus infection Slavoj Žižek’s ruminations on the Kinder Surprise Egg in “The Pervert’s Guide to Ideology” (if you haven’t seen the film, go ask the nearest white man with a beard to give you a brief synopsis). The Kinder Surprise Egg works in much the same way as a fortune cookie — you open up the egg/cookie, which has a milk chocolate/nondescript cookie shell, and inside you find a plastic toy/fortune. In a traditional reading of the Kinder egg/fortune cookie, Slavoj explains, the toy/fortune — a hidden, secret meaning or richness — is the reason why the entire apparatus exists. You tear away the cookie or the milk chocolate shell to get at your toy/fortune, the true object of your desire. The same metaphysical logic applies to certain ways of conceptualizing human activity, like Christianity, neoliberal capitalism and most Pitchfork reviews.
As Slavoj goes on to argue, however, the traditional reading of the Kinder Egg problem isn’t necessarily the right one. You could, for example, treat the plastic toy/fortune — which is hard to assign a fixed identity to, particularly when you’re talking about the meaning of life instead of a bunch of lucky numbers — as the condition necessary to appreciate its chocolaty exoskeleton as the true object of our desire. This anti-metaphysical assertion is “hard to grasp,” as Slavoj puts it, and it’s somewhat unclear what’s at stake in thinking about life as an endless search for chocolaty exoskeletons. I don’t know about you, but it sounds kind of fetishistic.
Which brings us back to our friend Young Thug. What is Thugger really saying when he raps “Bitch, I’mma win like a pipe”?
The answer, of course, is very simple: he’s gonna win. And yet that simple answer doesn’t quite explain what he said. He’s gonna win like a pipe. That “like a pipe” — a sort of dysfunctional simile that doesn’t actually explain how he’s going to win, but just makes a play on the word “windpipe,” which, of course, only works because Young Thug’s voice sounds like an autotuned crow — is the essence of Young Thugness.
Thugger is (and we are) pure finesse: the gloriously absurd excess that justifies spending our lives rooting around, not unlike the pigs and termites populating his lyrics, in the quotidian muck of existence. The true meaning of life, as Žižek and Young Thug show us, is to learn to love neither the salad nor the dressing, but to love the act of pouring on the sauce … which might also explain why that dude is always rapping about ejaculating.