Written Before Listen
This will be my third Young Thug review this year. The previous two were from when Young Thug and YSL Records tracks Slime Language 2 as I reviewed both episodes of it. I will say and admit that I disliked both of them. On the other hand, I usually like Young Thug. I like his eccentric style of trap music more than most, but recently I haven’t been big on his projects. Hopefully, this album changes my mind.
Well, I’ll say one thing and that’s Young Thug tones it down. There are beats like “Die Slow” and “Recognize Real” where Thugger and his producer decide to remove the drums completely. It’s a good decision too as those songs are two of the best on the album. For the later side of the album, the production is extremely forgettable. On “Stressed”, we get a beat from T-Minus that is probably one of the best beats on this entire record. We have two Metro beats with “Stupid/Asking” and “Love You More”. They both follow a similar mood as the loops are simple and the drums are minimal, but one’s easily better than the other and the superior one is “Stupid/Asking”. I think the guitar loop gets its point across and the bongo snare is just Metro staying strong with his trap roots. OZ appears on “Contagious” and while the loop is OZ as you know it, the drums aren’t. The drums are more similar to a Kanye song if I’m being honest. It’s also another good beat. On the song with Juice WRLD, We have a producer superteam with Kanye West & Pierre Bourne, and like expected, it’s one of the best beats on the album. The three Wheezy beats on this thing on the other hand are all disappointing. Wheezy flopped on all three beats he produced. “Bubbly” would be good if the 808s weren’t over distorted. “Faces” has a similar thing but instead of the 808s it’s the kick, and “Icy Hot” is just an awful song in general. Turbo appears on “Dropping Jewels” and I do like the beat but the delivery just doesn’t match. Andrew Watt appears on “Fifth Day Dead” and “Hate The Game” and drops two generic beats. Overall, I think the production starts kind of strong, ends weak.
Similar to the production, lyrically Young Thug goes strong. I think I should mention that Young Thug did a tiny desk concert in July and previewed 3 songs. I think that’s important to mention because he opens up with “Die Slow” which is the opener to this album. He gets the most introspective I’ve ever heard. He talks about his family life and his upbringing instead of his usual “money, hoes and clothes” bravado. “Stupid/Asking” is all about the two sides. One side is Thug being called stupid for cheating on his partner and the second part is the same woman being tired of asking Thugger for things. On “recognize Real”, has Thugger and Gunne going conscious as they talk about police brutality, loyalty, and their friendship. On “Contagious”, Young Thug is asking for more loyal friends and less fake ones. “Peepin Out The Window” is another good song as the three artists on this song discuss how much fame has changed them. So at this point, I’ve talked about 5 songs that appear on the first half of the album. It sets the mood for what we are planning to hear. The rest of the songs are rather just terrible, or what we usually hear from Thug. Look, I’m not trying to say that Young Thug downplays this album because of lyrics, but if we heard these songs to start the album, I would expect the rest of the album to be like that. I guess not.
One big problem I have with this album and sometimes Young thug, in general, is that he brings too many features that underwhelm the song. I don’t even hear Strick on “Die Slow”. Also, why did they have Gunna on three different songs? “Recognize Real” had a good Gunna feature but what the hell was Gunna’scontribution to “Love You More”. I don’t even remember his feature that much from “Insure My Wrist”. We have two posthumous features on this thing. There is a song that has a Juice WRLD feature that is pretty good but for some reason, Mac Miller sounds out of tune on the very last track. We also have a Nate Ruess feature on “Love You More” (alongside Gunna) and despite his underwhelming performance, I’m surprised to see someone who I haven’t heard from since 2015. On “Stressed”, we have an above-average J Cole verse as well as a forgettable T-Shyne so it’s kind of a win-lose. “Peeping Out The Window” has a similar thing with Future and Slime but luckily BSlime does at least stand his ground. On “Scoliosis” we have a solid Lil Double O feature and a solid Young Thug verse, but the mix is terrible. It sounds so unfinished and I don’t understand why. On “Livin It Up” we have the unlikely combination of Young Thug, Post Malone, and A$AP Rocky. Post Malone and Thug make sense, Thug and Rocky make sense but Rocky and Post don’t. At least that’s what I thought until I heard this song. They work pretty well together and it would be cool to see them do another song. On “Bubbly” we get the superteam of Young Thug, Travis Scott, and Drake. All 3 are disappointing in their own way. Young Thug doesn’t try, Travis Scott’s verse is too short and Drake has a completely different song altogether. Saving the worst for last, we have Doja Cat on “icy Hot”. Usually, I like Doja Cat features but something about this track rubs me the wrong way. Other than that, I think the features are just a mixed bag in general.
Now, for my biggest complaint, The tracklist, Its 20 tracks and over an hour long. It also starts emotional and it gets less and less captivating. What I am going to do is create a 13 track tracklist and explain it. We start with “Scoliosis” one of the bangers of the album. We get the crowd going and ready. We next get “Stressed”, we get a known feature and we also get a little more emotional. “Insure My Wrist” will act as the first hint and the more introspective side of Thug. We also get another feature and that’s from Gunna so we get two features from three different songs. “Yea Yea Yea” is the summer club track that breaks the bend from “Insure My Wrist” to the following track which is “Livin It Up”. I think the poppiest track should go in the middle of the album because it could give another emotional turn. This is also the first instance of something more guitar-based and more minimal. It also gives us a new direction to go towards which is the more minimal but less ambitious cuts so “Recognize Real” and “The Day Before” follow it up. We then get the two strongest songs back to back. “Peepin Out The Window” and “Stupid/Asking”, one of the tracks is powerful and emotional and the following one is arguably the most ambitious track that gets you on the edge of your seat. We then go into the biggest banger of the album and that song is the one with Juice WRLD It pulls the listener toward a left turn because if you get more of the same, you will get bored. If we excluded that track, we would’ve gotten straight to “Die Slow” and knowing Thugger’s audience, I think they’d be bored with the minimal shit. it’s the bore breaker for the two emotional tracks. The last two tracks just end the album off more like bonus material. They don’t have to be in the album but if they weren’t the album would be short. Those songs are “Faces” and Contagious”. Now, let’s say hypothetically that the tracklist I just thought of was the album that Thugger came out with. If I reviewed that album with that tracklisting, I’d probably give it like a 5 or 6.
Well, I already mentioned the two strongest tracks in my opinion was “Peepin Out The Window” and “Stupid/Asking”, I like the production and I think the lyrics are some of the most captivating Thugger has ever written down. I love the J Cole feature on “Stressed” and the beat for the song Juice WRLD is too good to not love. I honestly think the first half of the album wouldn’t be a bad album. Young Thug starts solid enough to bring the score up but it doesn’t distract the fact that the album is too long and gets to the brink of unlistenability near the end.
I am going to divide this album into two. The first half will be the better side, the side with the stronger songs and concepts, and the only half worth listening to. That first half I’d give a 6 out of 10. The second half on the other hand does have one or two passable songs but no highlights whatsoever. That half of the album I’d probably give like a 3. With that, I will give this album….