King Krule's latest, impenetrable album is a tough listen, reviews Letty Gardner, but worth sticking with till the endWritten by Letty Gardner on 22nd October 2017
Album Review: Young Thug – Young Martha EP
While not destined for critical acclaim, Young Thug's latest offering is a promising and endlessly fun listen, writes Kieran Read
Despite a tireless work ethic, a handful of hits and multiple high profile features, Young Thug remains one of recent music’s most elusive figures. Achieving both critical acclaim and a cultish following, Thug instead seems more interested with alienating crowds and standing apart from others (‘Everybody got tigers, so I wanna go get a liger’). Nestled within a movement of hip-hop widely dismissed, Thug manages to continually intrigue, wrapping himself within his own contradictions to confuse, mystify and entertain.
Though I am no advocate of mumble rap, I believe Young Thug’s quiet influence is a much-needed breath of fresh air for the entire genre. Dismissing those obsessed with a distinction between ‘old-school’ storytelling and youthful, spontaneous hit making, Thug utilises his vocals like an instrument and his absurd lyricism like a weapon. More nuanced and tactile than his peers, Thug rides this line of genius and improviser the greatest thus far. Take Andre 3000’s word for it if you can’t take mine.
He isn’t flawless, though. Despite his ability, Thug has no ‘classic’ album to support such acclaim. Barter 6 came close, as did JEFFEREY, however neither is consistent enough to solidify this status. Handled by a roster of frequently used producers, his eccentricity often fails to impress over the course of an extended project; Thug seemingly destined to be remembered in singles. It takes a producer of similar eccentricity to perfect Thug’s style and many simply can’t match, the results often messy and underwhelming.
“Having worked with many of his contemporaries (Lil Yachty, Migos, Lil Uzi Vert etc.), Carnage taking on Young Thug was both inevitable and exciting
Enter DJ Carnage for Young Martha, the first of numerous collaborative EPs between the pair and follow up to Thug’s recent mixtape Beautiful Thugger Girls. Having worked with many of his contemporaries (Lil Yachty, Migos, Lil Uzi Vert etc.), Carnage taking on Young Thug was both inevitable and exciting. Boasting a background in EDM and dubstep, Carnage often pushes rappers into louder, more aggressive flows, spaces in which most either flourish or flop.
Considering this, what we get with Young Martha is actually fairly surprising. In keeping with his collaborator, Carnage’s beats flex great diversity here; in his own words, this is ‘everything we love about Thug, and put steroids in that’. Yes, there’s the expected and excellent banger in there, but the remaining track list is versatile enough to display both artist’s strengths as well as staying consistent. The infectious energy of the EP carries it, flowing naturally between tracks and leaving you wishing for something longer than the few we get.
Opener ‘Homie’ slaps hard. Here, Thug rips through his throaty ‘Harambe’ flow over the kind of bass-heavy, horn-led production that Carnage followers come to expect; even Meek Mill sounds hungry on this track, the greatest compliment I could give to the producer. The airy and minimal ‘Liger’ follows; Thug here delivering his off-kilter delivery to its catchiest results, flitting between hooks and verses as if there were no distinction. Later, on ‘10,000 Slimes’, Thug’s vocals and lyrics are as left field as they’ve ever been, delivering gems such as ‘Her booty just jiggled and it’s wiggly’ or ‘Come in every angle like we Kirk’. Throughout Young Martha, Thug’s mysteries remain mysteries; though are laid out in such an intriguing way that they’re more exciting than they’ve ever been.
“Nestled within a movement of hip-hop widely dismissed, Thug manages to continually intrigue, wrapping himself within his own contradictions to confuse, mystify and entertain
The EP concludes on the gorgeously sunny and uplifting ‘Don’t Call Me’, a Tropical EDM-inspired pop song that would slot comfortably into the top of the charts. Here, Shakka’s hooky vocals play off Thug’s slipperiness effortlessly, calling to mind other successful collaborations from the rapper such as Jamie xx's ‘Good Times’ and Rich Gang’s ‘Lifestyle’. Both artist and producer understand how to streamline their eccentricity on this track, forming something that’s as accessible as either have achieved, all without sacrificing style. It’s songs like these that remind you of Young Thug’s impressively loose groundings, proving his adeptness at dipping freely into pop, R&B or hip-hop without changing a note.
Young Martha is likely to pass unnoticed by most, a project lost amongst many. In no way do I believe this EP will represent either artist’s greatest work, but what it alludes to is promising. As Thug continually unveils weird, wonderful layers to his persona with each release, Young Martha shows off a producer who understands and plays off him in dynamic ways, both unusual and accessible. With further EPs confirmed, this pairing is one to keep track of; maybe in Carnage, Young Thug will finally find the consistency and creativity to make a project that truly champions his strengths. If not, what we’re left with is a collection of highly fun and innovative tracks that, much like the artists themselves, deserve more recognition than they get.
Young Martha is out now via 300 Entertainment.