Young Stoner Life Records

Slime Language is a social experiment. It doesn't seem like it was planned to be one, but it's hard not to classify it as such. The lead-up to Young Thug's latest project was a game of perception vs. reality, a Young Stoner Life compilation disguised as a solo project. In the wake of its release, numerous publications (including XXL), have a 17-track piece of work to digest, in addition to a Rough Green snake to nurture. The metaphor is blatant. For a brief moment, the people writing about Thug had to become him—both parties striving to raise baby snakes into something more.

Endearing, ambitious and a tad overstuffed, Slime Language is a literal and figurative family reunion. However, like any Black family reunion, the project captivates when the young are allowed to flex in front of the father and claw their way from the periphery to the main stage.

Young Thug has plenty of biological progeny, but Slime Language soars when his artistic and spiritual sons—Lil Uzi Vert, Lil Baby, Gunna—compete for the crown. “Chanel (Go Get It)” featuring Gunna and Lil Baby, is fascinating because it shows the endless permutations and offshoots of Thug’s style. Both feature artists have adopted their musical father’s mushed-mouth melodic delivery, but where Gunna’s flow rambles and elongates the last word of each bar, Baby assaults the beat with a clipped, rushed and bludgeoning flow. The chemistry between Thug and Gunna continues with “Dirty Shoes.” Thug easily steals the show by contorting “Eddie Murphy," “dirty” and “Curry” to rhyme with each other, but it’s his beautifully sung bridge that presents the mixtape’s central weakness.

Thug’s rapping, singing, and general presence on the project is such an all-consuming force it tends to overwhelm any artist on a track. It wouldn’t be a problem under normal circumstances, but Slime Language is distinguished as a compilation that’s highest peaks are the hypnotic surge of the intro, “Tsunami,” and the ferocious cavalcade of syllables that is “Gain Clout.” Both are solo affairs.

The latter half of the 15-track Slime Language suffers from compilation bloat. Then again, what rap label posse project doesn’t? Even if the multitude of diverging voices make it difficult for a more substantial thematic element to develop, the bombarding personalities deliver enjoyable bursts of creativity. Karlae, HiDoraah, and Dolly—Thug’s fiancée and sisters—provide scene-stealing moments on “U Ain’t Slime Enough” and “Expensive,” which is no easy feat on an project full of rap rookie’s of the year. Wheezy and Keyyz’s production on “Tsunami,” “Gain Clout,” and “Audemar” are tight and adventurous efforts that should be further explored whenever Thug embarks on his next solo project.

Slime Language is a mixtape surrounded by metaphorical snakes blossoming or withering, depending upon how well they can emerge from their father’s shadow. Thankfully, like the very real snakes that started the YSL compilation promo run, most seem to be thriving.

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