Young Thug rides a purple cloud to rap royalty

I’m staring at Young Thug on YouTube and he’s telling me he’s an alien. In a conversation with Clique, he talks honestly and openly with the interviewer and claims that, like Kanye West, he is from somewhere outside of this Earth. Hunched over on the grass, lean in hand, Thug laughs behind gold teeth and dreadlocks, completely immersed in this moment yet wholly detached from the real world around him. It’s a bizarre and wonderful interview in which Thug is openly honest, allowing fans a rare glimpse into his deranged psyche and furthering his trajectory into the stratosphere.

If anything, it proves that the 24-year-old rapper is having the wildest 48 months of his life. On the back of a string of fire singles and mixtapes, Young Thug has risen from outsider weirdo to rap royalty. He boasts a style so unique and foreign that he even manages to make Lil Wayne look bizarre.

For Slime Season 2, Thug returns with his third mixtape of 2015, and probably his most overblown and outrageous move yet. Spread across an immense 22 tracks and released less than fifty days after his previous mixtape, Slime Season 2 is an unnecessary yet wholly exciting journey that will likely only appeal to pure fans of Thug’s idiosyncrasies.

There are very few bangers here, instead the focus is almost wholly on Thug’s personality and the beats. The best comparison to Slime Season 2 is Future and Zaytovan’s much-overlooked Beast Mode mixtape; it’s an album comprised of beautiful, airy beats so perfectly melded with the personality of the rapper that it’s impossible to imagine them apart. These are some of the most pleasant beats of Young Thug’s young career, with producers like London on da Track, Wheezy and Ricky Racks bringing in the floaty, typically purple swag beats needed for Thug to bounce his persona all over.

Unlike Slime Season, which sounded like a misguided collection of non-album tracks strung together without purpose, Slime Season 2 plays a bit more like a proper album and, despite its scattered aesthetic and recording dates stretching back to 2013, the album feels a little bit more cohesive. Sure, this is a random and esoteric collection, but something about the whole thing seems particularly purposeful, like a final push to build the hype needed to drop Thug’s proper debut album.

Besides, nobody listens to a 60-plus-minute mix of songs from a pop-rapper like Young Thug expecting to hear a complete and structured project like To Pimp a Butterfly or even Dirty Sprite 2. No, these songs are short, sharp exercises in flow and melody, designed to be consumed as quickly as they were conceived. It’s a wiser and easier listen to just select the great singles from Thug’s previous three mixtapes than consume any of them whole, but for album purists there is certainly enough ebb and flow on each to drag fans through.

The first five songs on Slime Season 2 exemplify Thug’s skill and open the album masterfully. These are probably among the strongest of the entire record and welcome the listener gently and energetically to the wild farce that follows. The chorus for “Don’t Know” has Thug bouncing all over the beat like some deranged Bob Dylan on lean, stretching and contorting his voice in typically unique ways. “Hey I” is probably Thug’s most sincere love ballad since the Rich Gang days and plays like he and his fiancé Jerrika Karlae have finally patched things up after their brief split. The Wheezy-produced track “She Notice” opens with the hilarious Thug apology – “I’m high, sorry” – before bursting into a chorus featuring a cloudy and delirious collage of expertly produced Thug’s swirling all over the audio spectrum.

Elsewhere, it’s nice to see contributions from both Rich Homie Quan and Birdman on the tracks “Never Made Love” and “No No No”, respectively. Pairing these tracks almost back-to-back serves to remind us of what made Rich Gang Tha Tour Part 1 so wonderful and it pains me that this may be last time all three appear so close together.

Apparently, Thug can create a song in 15 minutes and the two Slime Season mixtapes impressively prove this. Sure, this means his lyrics are almost wholly forgettable – although here he sounds the most mature of any of his releases – but that’s not exactly what we came here for. What keeps us coming back to Thug is his unbelievable knack for crafting continually catchy, easily digestible yet wholly personalised pop hooks. Nobody else sounds like Young Thug right now and his quality prolificacy is matched only by Future. It seems essential to marketing hip hop in 2015: flood the fans with non-album mixes in between the proper, big label releases to maintain relevance and keep yourself in everyone’s faces. Thug, Future and Drake are among the ones doing this best right now, ensuring they are right here in our faces every second of every day.

There’s plenty to sink in on Slime Season 2 and by the time Hy!£UN35 gets released most of it will be forgotten. But until then, I’m certainly glad this mixtape exists and I know I will be using several of these tracks to give me that straight shot of Thug so desperately needed to get through the week.

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