Young Thug, a.k.a. Thugger, a.k.a. No, My Name Is Jeffery, is an Atlanta trap-rap/crooner who puts out about three records a year. Like his fellow Atlanta contemporary Future and hoards of similar sounding artists not from Atlanta like Desiigner or Lil Yachty, it seems like the next generation of T-Pain’s have settled in quite nicely. Sure, T-Pain is from Tallahassee, Florida, Gucci Mane never sang, and rap/singing pioneers like Nelly or Kanye West/Kid Cudi were from St. Louis and Chicago respectively, but somehow this style has found its home in the artists of Atlanta, Georgia.
To me, Young Thug is like Future’s little brother. It’s as if he grew up listening to Atlanta trap-rap and Future and decided he was going to push the boundaries even farther. “The music is going to come out of me like a Pentecostal churchgoer speaking in tongues and I’m also going to cross-dress.” Young Thug’s drug-induced yelping might not be for everyone, but if there’s one thing that’s amazing about this release, it’s the album cover. With rap culture at times so laced with homophobia and misogyny, it’s refreshing to see the newest generation embrace themselves regardless of backlash or looking a little like someone from Naruto.
The disappointment however, comes from the lack of any of it appearing within his music. Not that I don’t like trap rap, or songs for the club that are pointless to analyze, but with Thugger, it’s almost like there isn’t even any thought process to what he does, and that’s the part that scares me. Does Young Thug wear a dress because he’s trying to make a powerful statement, or does Young Thug just do things to get a reaction out of people because he’s straight up insane? As much as I wish it were the former, I’d say most of the time I lean towards the latter. Is he wearing the dress just because Young Thug does whatever he wants and doesn’t even try to make any sense of it? I think he does.
Before the record was released, Young Thug told everyone that his new name as an artist was going to be “No, My Name is Jeffery,” and everyone just played it off. Everywhere, he is still listed and talked about as Young Thug and not No, My Name Is Jeffery. Sure, Prince changed his name to a symbol and wanted to be called “the Artist Formerly Known as Prince,” and everyone laughed it off and still called him Prince, but Young Thug isn’t Prince. In fact, in my opinion, he’s just a buffer until the next Future project. Nonetheless, while we play off everything he does as insane but then applaud him for openly breaking gender roles, it’s an interesting dichotomy.
With such a message completely absent from his musical material, I have to ask how we appreciate Thugger? Is he a genius gender-fluid music pioneer, or a trap-rapper who writes songs like “Harambe” that don’t once mention the now-famously deceased Gorilla and includes lyrics like “Lil mama, she ready for war/she ready for dick in her ass and her throat” on track 4, “Future Swag”? For me, I have to separate Young Thug as a style icon and Young Thug as a musician. Young Thug as a style icon is doing great things. Young Thug as a musician is doing the complete opposite. His songs might be intended for high intensity positive club environments, but they are all just as misogynistic, polarizing, and insulting as some of the worst lines in rap’s history.
I can’t even get past some of what he’s saying, let alone the music. For a tracklist of his idols, almost none of the songs even have to do with their alleged dedications, two of which (Wyclef Jean & Gucci Mane) appear on the record as features to songs that aren’t even the ones that they’re named after. The dress and Young Thug’s “I do what I want” attitude is great when it’s applied to the positivity of breaking social boundaries, but when it’s not, Young Thug is attributing to the problem as much as he is the solution.