What’s left to say about Young Thug? He’s an icon, he’s a rock star, he’s an element. He’s a linguistic innovator, a sartorial pioneer, an unlikely cultural ambassador. He’s a gangster in a dress, an alien in designer clothes, an enigma every which way.
Though Young Thug is just 28 (barely; happy birthday, Thug!), he’s released an impossible amount of music—18 mixtapes, three EPs, a compilation album, and countless guest appearances. His warble is more abundant than hogs on William McNabb’s yard. And yet, for an artist of his prominence, prolificacy, and influence, he has remarkably few signature hits (“Danny Glover”? “Stoner”? The remix to the “Old Town Road” remix?). Sometimes I suspect that, like Thomas Pynchon or Samuel Beckett, more people like to think about consuming Thug’s work than actually like consuming his work.
Which is, in part, why I’m not sure what to make of today’s So Much Fun. Thug’s new album should be a Big Deal, considering Thug’s stature, that the album (again) is being dubbed his “first,” and So Much Fun’s amplified title (it’s not just fun). But is it an event? Has a Thug project—album, mixtape, or otherwise—ever been? Does So Much Fun’s designation as an album signal a meaningful distinction or departure?
After a morning with it, on each count, I’m inclined to answer... not really? In the sweep of Thug’s pointilist career, So Much Fun is another dot. By his own admission, the intention behind his alleged debut was not to make a statement or spin a sweeping narrative, but, as the album’s Katy Perry-esque title suggests, to simply have fun and, in turn, provide fun. This is supposed to be a party, not a culmination; an album of “Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da”-ing, not “A Day in the Life”-ing.
And on those counts, Thug mostly succeeds. So Much Fun is, by Thug standards, accessible (most of his words are remarkably intelligible English). It’s an album full of Thug’s favorite things (drugs, sports cars, Birkin bags, blowjobs) and he’s accompanied by his favorite people (Future, Gunna, Lil Baby, Quavo). The party goes on too long (the second half of the hour-long album drags) and it’s not a good time for everyone (one song is titled “I Bought Her”; it’s not the most misogynistic), but there are indeed moments of Fun (Travis Scott making Travis Scott sounds on “The London”), Much Fun (starting a chorus, “Molly, Roxies / Oxycontin (Yeah) / Jubilee, Ostrich (Uh-uh)”), and yes, even So Much Fun (Future intoning “Wipe his nose, wipe his nose… wipe your nose!” on the “Sup Mate” refrain).
But the Most Fun song of all, from start to finish, is, without a doubt, “Jumped Out the Window.” Over a rattling minor key Supah Mario beat, Thug spins a wild yarn about running from the police. If Richard Price set a novel in the trap, it might resemble “Jumped Out the Window,” with the song’s vivid imagery (“Jumped out the window and I fled on the cops / Nigga had to run 'cause I had meds in my socks”), propulsive story, and poetic jargon (“Slatt,” “pork and beans,” and “baguette” are a few of the terms I had to Urban Dictionary). Thug is his best in motion, and “Jumped Out the Window” is an absolute frenzy.
Ironically, “Jumped Out the Window” is what Thug said So Much Fun wasn’t going to be—“It ain’t no storylines to it,” he told No Jumper last month, saying the album would instead be full of “parade” music. The insinuation was that party songs are fun and trap stories are not. No one ever said Thug was introspective.
There’s nothing about Young Thug that’s not a paradox. He wears women’s Uggs but travels with AR-15’s everywhere he goes. He calls his friends, the same ones carrying the AR-15’s, “babe” and “lover” yet is from one of the toughest parts of Atlanta—the south side—where he is at once a hero and an outsider and a leader of the psychedelic fashion movement of rap hippies. Devin Friedman chases music’s most colorful enigma around the streets of Atlanta to answer one question: Exactly what planet is Young Thug from?
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Originally Appeared on GQ