Young Thug Stays in His Lane With ‘Jeffery’
The ever developing story of Young Thug never ceases to shock the hip-hop community. His flagrant flashiness, incomparable aesthetic and dare we say pioneering style has audibly graduated him from being a weird stoner rapper with a penchant for Auto-Tune who has a couple hot songs to a major entertaining force in the game today -- whether the old heads like it or not. With his new mixtape, Jeffrey, he continues to command attention and defy hip-hop norms.
There is also arguably no one with a more controversial narrative than Thugger and no one with a more determined work ethic. He technically has yet to release a major label debut album but the last five projects he’s released in less than two years could all very well be written off as album quality -- especially Slime Season 3. That’s why when he announced he would be changing his name and shifting his creative direction, fans were taken aback. In attempts to rebrand himself as Jeffery (his government name) and simultaneously shedding all the “slime shit”, Thug released a newly self-titled mixtape that anti-climactically sounds exactly like anything else the Atlanta rapper has ever put out -- regardless of the name change.
There is no doubt that Jeffery in its entirety is eccentric, even for Thug. For starters, the cover art features him draped up and dripped out in a dress. And although Thug is no stranger to wearing women's clothes, the unrestrained nature of it feels more puzzling than usual. On top of that, eight of the 10 song titles are simply names of other famous musicians and pop culture icons he looks up to. He even goes as far as naming a track “Harambe” after the gorilla who was killed at a Cincinnati Zoo in June. It’s imminently hard trying to figure out whether all these incredibly peculiar moves come from a place of unconventional creativity or if it’s all just one giant gimmick fabricated to garner more attention for Thug. Marketing ploy or not though, the music on this mixtape never has a dull moment.
Just like his past releases, Thug doesn’t veer off track from the usual talk of money, violence and of course his multitude of female mélanges. There is also no shortage of outlandish bars like on the tape opener “Wyclef Jean.” “Okay, my money way longer than a Nascar race/I told her keep going on the gas, fuck the brakes/Only here for one night, let me put it on your face/Let a nigga nut, only way I'll go to sleep,” Thug raps. Those rhymes are nothing out of the ordinary but the TM88 and Supah Mario-produced beat is something special. Catching a distinct Caribbean vibe, the track sounds like something Wyclef himself would be comfortable styling on.
When it comes to “Future Swag," his rapping certainly hits its pinnacle. The hook, bridge and verses are as rapid fire as it gets as Thug uses his phonetic finessing to stretch syllables and emphasis his rhymes to his liking. And yet again, TM88 enables Thug to do so by providing another sonic trap gem.
Unfortunately, Thug misses the mark with his vocal performance on the gangster ballad “RiRi.” “If you want it you gotta earn it/You gotta earn it, you gotta earn, earn, earn it” legitimately sounds like nails on a chalkboard. This isn’t normally the case for Thug, who can harmonize just about anything. “Webbie” is another standout cut that doesn’t really further any part of his narrative but where else can you hear someone rap “This politician is so fake/They politickin' bout these cases” and “She been suckin' dick way before a nigga made it” in the same chorus? Other than the previously released “Pick Up the Phone” being a solid book end to the tape, the other handful of songs aren’t overwhelmingly special -- just more of the same Thug fans have grown to know and love.
Despite the name change and alleged new musical direction, Jeffery serves as just another notch on Thugger's YSL belt. Don’t get it twisted, the production and majority of the vocal performance is on point but the last couple projects have also featured the same creative consistency. If Thug really wanted to shake up his image with the name change then he would have been better off going completely left with the music. Instead, he delivers a solid effort that finds him staying in his lane rather than veering off course.
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