SLIME SEASON by Young Thug & London on da Track
Genre: Southern Hip Hop, Trap Rap
Favorite Tracks: “Rarri”, “Stunna”, “Calling Your Name”, “Freaky”
Being a fan of trap music is a bit of a daunting task. Most rappers involved in this scene are almost constantly in the studio churning out hours upon hours of content, forcing listeners to sift through tracks that are not always top notch. One such artist is Jeffrey “Young Thug” Williams, a disciple of Gucci Mane’s, who first hit it big with the release of 2013’s 1017 THUG. While it proved to be a solid mixtape thanks to Brick Squad’s help and the amazing track “2 Cups Stuffed”, many found it difficult to take Thug seriously considering his unoriginal name and improvisational recording methods. Despite various music blogs gleefully riding the Thugga train, including Vice Magazine’s Noisey, he brought almost nothing new to the table stylistically or lyrically. The I CAME FROM NOTHING mixtapes didn’t yield any hidden gems. The single “Stoner” was absolute trash and his verse in Rich Gang’s “Lifestyle” spawned a meme comparing Thug’s delivery to the gibberish spoken by the Spongebob antagonist Doodlebob. “Old English” was the summer jam of 2014 but was obviously carried by Freddie Gibbs and A$AP Ferg’s verses.
Things just started getting interesting this year when, following the expulsion of Rich Homie Quan from Rich Gang, producer legend Bryan “Birdman” Williams doubled down on Thug by delaying the release of former “greatest rapper in the world” Lil Wayne’s album THA CARTER V. This resulted in the most notable rap beef of recent memory, involving a supposed assassination attempt on Wayne and the release of Thug’s salt-in-the-wound mixtape mockingly entitled BARTER 6. Though Birdman was on his game and Thug showed improvement, a bit of BARTER 6 was rendered boring considering its hype only came from controversy. But Thug’s fame only skyrocketed as he collaborated with fellow Georgian producer Mike WiLL Made It and UK bass producer Jamie XX, both modern giants in the music world.
Amidst this chaos, we see the long-awaited release of the SLIME SEASON mixtape. Doing double duty as the first in what Thug claims to be a series and a hype generator for his upcoming debut album HY!£UN35 (pronounced “HI-TUNES”), SLIME SEASON consists of previously released tracks in addition to several new ones, coalescing to form a surprisingly cohesive and worthwhile package. Thug partners again with Atlanta producer London on da Track on a good number of these tracks, but London’s prominent name is somewhat misleading; Migos’ label 300 Entertainment elected to recruit an eclectic variety of producers for the tape. This results in many of the beats steering away from copy/paste trap redundancy, allowing Thug to demonstrate his versatility in the process.
There is a ton of out-of-the-box thinking present on SLIME SEASON. Thug’s signature yelps are still intact but he also shows off a bit of range, turning up the aggression when necessary and even attempting straight-laced singing, but always demonstrating a firm grasp on his limits. This is made even better with vocal effects taking on a less-is-more approach. Lyrics typically surround the sex and criminal activity inherent over the course of Thug’s upbringing in Jonesboro, GA, but still lack anything thought provoking apart from the occasional ridiculous eyebrow-raising one liner such as “She sucked like eight dicks, I call her Octagon” on “Power” and “Now she on me like a perk, my fuckin weed smell like a turd” on “Wood Would” (both uninspired tracks). Repetition is still common, especially with the hooks to “No Way” and “Overdosin”, but isn’t overused to the degree that it becomes a crutch for lazy rapping, as many subpar Southern rappers commonly do. Some of the features on this mixtape carry the songs that they’re present on, most notably with Migos members Quavo and Offset’s verses on “Quarterback” and Gucci on “Again” (Lil Wayne’s pre-beef verse on “Take Kare” falls flat), but Thug proves that he can hold his own on more than a few occasions.
Thug’s interplay with the more trap oriented producers is a treat. Isaac Flame’s “Stunna” is an absolute banger, with a twist on James Brown and Bobby Byrd’s familiar “Yeah! Woo!” sample loop. In addition, Thug hits hard on Brick Squad producer Southside’s beat for the track “Rarri”. But where the release really shines is when it appeases to pop sensibilities. Though not diving as deep into pop rap as Fetty Wap, Thug’s performances on the more accessible tracks are phenomenal. Both tracks produced by rising Atlanta star Goose, “Calling Your Name” and “That’s All”, are upbeat and extremely danceable. Even teenage beat prodigy Wonda Gurl contributes to some fun magic with Thug on “Freaky”. These tracks more than make up for some unexciting efforts in the latter half of SLIME SEASON.
While SLIME SEASON has a notable amount of fat that could be trimmed, it succeeds in providing a crucial stepping stone for a promising rap career. Young Thug has nowhere to go from here but up, turning once doubtful listeners into full-fledged fans. The bar has been set high for the HY!£UN35 debut album, and with another shot at Lil Wayne in the works for Thug through an impending mixtape entitled THA CARTER V, pressure will most likely force Thug to get better and better.