Micke Ahola

Young Thug and Clint Eastwood

How Young Thug depicts love through cowboys and toothpaste

A review of Young Thug's Beautiful Thugger Girls

Young Thug released a lot of music in 2017. As expected. In 2016, Thug’s incredible run of mixtapes, starting from the hard-hitting and belligerent Barter 6 in April 2015, through the bloated but ever so enjoyable Slime Seasons, culminated 16 months later in Jeffery, Thug’s most experimental, eclectic, and consistent project yet. Where fans were ambivalent critics were amazed, but in either case, the world could not wait to see what Young Thug had in store for 2017.

On February 23rd, Young Thug finally dropped a song, together with a music video, as the first sign of what was to come in 2017. For fans of Thug, waiting for 6 months was a long time, and when Thug finally released a single, rather than a mixtape or an album, it had to be something special. And it was.

On Safe, Young Thug’s most heartfelt, endearing, and beautifully melodic song to date, the rapper comes clean with his insecurities. Thug bares his heart to his fans over a moody beat with a warbling, melancholy instrumental, and round, soft drums, that kick in to an upbeat poppy tempo in the last half of the two verses, adding an optimistic layer to the song’s atmosphere.

Beautiful Thugger Girls album cover

On the chorus, Thug raps:

I spend more money on security than I make
Just to be safe, dawg
Gotta make it home

In the first verse, looking directly at the camera in a rare, incredibly humane moment for the infamously reserved and camera-shy rapper, Thug raps:

In the daytime a nigga having nightmares
I wonder if He answerin’ every one of my prayers.

Being from the gang-controlled projects of Atlanta, where those who succeed are notoriously targeted by those who hate to see their peers outshine them, and having other types of danger abroad, having performed at the Bataclan theatre in Paris only a few nights before the November 2015 terror attacks, it is more than understandable why Thug would worry about making it back home safe to his fiance and his six children. 

When, in April 2017, Thug revealed that his upcoming project would be a singing album, few were suprised. It was then when Young Thug threw in the twist that, as unexpected as it was, could only have been expected from Young Thug: the album would not only feature Thug singing, but would, in fact, be a ‘country’ album. When Beautiful Thugger Girls was released in the end of April, many were confused about what exactly was going on in the album cover, and the questions only increased as barely half a minute into the opening song on the album Thug shouts out ‘YEEHAW,’ like on in the inside he had been a cowboy all along, only to reveal himself in a freudian slip of an adlib that stopped many listeners in their tracks.

On Family Don’t Matter, a song with a soft trap beat and a beautiful string-accompanied instrumental from the Atlanta producer Wheezy, the country did not stop at adlibs.

Country Billy made a couple milli
Tryna park the Rolls Royce inside the Piccadilly

Featuring the spacey singing of London singer Millie Go Lightly, Family Don’t Matter is not actually a country song in any form, but the concept is sold. As purely delightful as it is perplexing, Family Don’t Matter is a shining example of Young Thug’s mastery of eclectic inspiration combined into a breathtaking mix of catchy melodies, ridiculous bars, and emotionally charged moments all fitted over an energetic Atlanta trap beat.

The pre-chorus on the third song on Beautiful Thugger Girls, She Wanna Party, is another example of the Young Thug factor at its best:

And we be saucin’
I love her, so you know I got her flossin’
I’m not a dentist, but a nigga flossin’
I’m fresh to death, they say I should be coffin

Thug, always ready to show his affection for his fiance (even, more recently, after their public breakup later in 2017), comes up with one of the most bizarre, endearing yet hilarious, ways to show how much he loves her: by making sure she flosses. What makes the whole thing even more absurd is that Thug returns to the teeth theme on the next song: on Daddy’s Birthday (yes, a truly Young Thug title), Thug raps:

I pray my daughter never ever experience no train
I told her Colgate
Baby you gotta keep your teeth straight

For all the faults that Thug may have, when a father, on a rap song, refers to the exact brand of toothpaste he wants his daughter to use so she won’t ever need to have the painful dental surgeries that he has had to have, it is evident that he always has his childrens’ best interests in mind. Together with the simple yet catchy hook, unabashedly sexually explicit lyrics, and Millie Go Lightly’s angelic harmonising in the background, She Wanna Party is far more interesting and graceful than a rap song with that title deserves to be. 

On Relationship, Young Thug collaborates with Future, one of Atlanta’s other major artists that thrives on the borderlines of hardcore rap and emotional singing, to create a trap ballad that is as fun in its melodies and the intermixing of Thug’s and Future’s lines, as it is vapid in its lyrics. Get High, another laid-back party song with a done-to-death theme, features two decent features from Snoop Dogg and Lil Durk, but mostly gets by on the merit of its moody instrumental provided by Young Chop, as well as its slow and spaced-out chorus by Thug himself. After the somewhat slow middle part of the album, Young Thug kicks back in to gear with the Wheezy produced banger Feel It.

“I don’t wanna buy her love, I wanna build it,” raps Thug on the first verse with an honest-to-God sincerity. “Yeah, I never met a girl like you / I’m lovin’ every single curve about you,” croons Thug later on in the verse, his voice breaking down into a mumble, making the listener feel like you’ve intervened on a private moment between Jeffery and his fiance. For all his braggadocious rap persona and his enigmatic personality attested to by his collaborators, when Thug sings about his significant other the emotion is so pure that it’s hard not to be persuaded.

On the penultimate song of Beautiful Thugger Girls, For Y’all, Thug pulls together the threads to make the album a cohesive whole. On a sad-yet-upbeat instrumental, with a soft, bouncy bass, and accompanied by beautiful strings, Thug is introspective, affectionate, and genuine. Like the very personification of the ‘ready to risk it all’ meme, Thug’s voice breaks as he sings in the most emotional moment of the album:

I did everything for y’all to ball
Tell y’all risked it all to see a smile on y’all
I risked my future goals for all y’all
I risked my life she told me take that condom off and go raw

Beautiful Thugger Girls starts with a song called Family Don’t Matter – yet by the 13th track, it is all but obvious that to Thug the opposite is the case. To see a smile on the faces of his daughters and sons, his siblings, his cousins, his mother and fiance, is and always has been his primary mission. Beautiful Thugger Girls is a testament of Young Thug’s love not just for his fiance, or for his daughters, but for his whole family: on the chorus of For Y’all the dental show of affection has become all-encompassing: “Make sure everybody flossing.”

After Beautiful Thugger Girls, Thug went on to release Young Martha, an absolutely banger of an EP with the producer DJ Carnage, as well as Super Slimey, a mostly gratuitous collaboration tape with Future with a few standout tracks. But Beautiful Thugger Girls will be the Young Thug project that defined the year 2017 for him, and took his career in a bold new direction. Whether he sings or raps, whatever direction Young Thug decides to go next, two things are for sure: it will take everyone by surprise, and it will be worth cherishing when it does arrive.

Beautiful Thugger Girls is on YouTube and all other major streaming services.

(Young Thug image by The Come Up Show CC BY 2.0)