Artist Profile: Young Thug
With the drop of his second studio LP, Punk, on October 15th, Young Thug’s back in the headlines of the music press and beyond. The tracklisting was kept a closely guarded secret, with only the Dr Luke and Rocco Did It Again!-produced lead single Tick Tock which debuted back in July at Miami’s Rolling Loud, given any sort of sneak peek. Released on his own YSL imprint and distributed through 300 Entertainment (home to Fetty Wap, Megan Thee Stallion and Famous Dex, among others), Punk follows on from 2019’s So Much Fun, which tells a tiny fraction of Thugger’s story.
A Man of Many… Everythings
Thug first started getting noticed in his native Atlanta with three installments of his mixtape I Came From Nothing catching the eye of Gucci Mane, who signed him as a recording artist. He was an instant hit, with the track “Picacho” appearing on Rolling Stone and Pitchfork’s year-end best of lists. The year 2014 saw him recording with Kanye, his debut single “Stoner” was mainstreamed on US radio, he signed with 300, and announced his debut LP, tentatively titled Carter 6 for release in 2015. This was then shelved, retitled, and eventually released as yet another mixtape.
In 2016, Thug featured in Kanye’s The Life Of Pablo and modeled for Calvin Klein. The LP eventually surfaced in 2019 as So Much Fun. This isn’t indicative of Thugger procrastinating or resting on laurels, more so that he always seems to be doing everything all at once. When Punk dropped, his discography extended to 2 studio LPs, 19 mixtapes, 3 EPs, 2 compilation LPs, 21 of his own singles and another 48 where he’s a featured artist.
Wild card with wild cards
Young Thug is a young father, both literally and figuratively – he had his first kid at 17, and he’s been the launchpad for so many new-school Southern rappers; from his direct protégés Lil Baby, Lil Keed and Gunna to the fact you can hear him in everything from helping Travis Scott find his sound to Playboi Carti’s flatbed delivery.
If his early work owed a lot to Lil Wayne, he’s diversified so much now that he’s equally at home on multimillion selling pop songs like Camila Cabello’s “Havana” as he is mumbling it up with Rich Homie Quan. Maybe he’s underrated because he straddles so much of music now. As the BBC noted when they named him ‘the 21st Century’s most influential rapper’: “If you haven’t heard of Young Thug, the chances are you’ve heard someone who sounds like Young Thug.”
This “Thug” is notorious for playing with gender in the ultra-masculine world of hip hop. He’s not afraid to commit to passions wholeheartedly either – Young Thug is known to play different variants of poker, and the tables in Vegas have been a major draw for him for a while. Even Rolling Stone Magazine has covered his love for Vegas poker rooms, and he doesn’t look to be putting down the cards anytime soon. His Snake Pit studio complex in California famously has living areas and open doors so that anyone from YSL (and beyond) can listen in to sessions, sometimes jump into card sessions, or just shoot hoops and play with the resident cats.
Image credit: @coverartmatters
The silence is broken, and Punk is out. A sprawling 20 track affair, it features collabs from some you might expect – Gunna, Future, J.Cole – some you wouldn’t – Nate Reuss (Fun.) – and some that are going to be vital for the wider hip hop community with posthumous verses from Mac Miller and Juice Wrld. They’ve voted with their wallets, with Punk edging out Drake’s Certified Lover Boy to take top spot on the Billboard 200. And if that isn’t enough, he also appears on Elton John’s Lockdown Sessions, released the week after Punk. Thug and Nicki Minaj are on that album’s “Always Love You.”
He’s a pioneer, a one-off, a label owner; he’s everywhere, all the time.
Written by Regina Jane
Regina jane is a music blogger with a passion for RnB and hip hop. She loves to write about her favorite singers and bands and hopefully introduce them to a reader. When she isn’t writing about music she can be found with her guitar.
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