The hip hop Ziggy Stardust and the human embodiment of being hard to pigeonhole, Young Thug certainly thrives off his unconventional style. This no doubt applies to his work load with Thugger being just as occupied as he was in 2015 with the final instalment of his Slime Season series landing along with I’m Up in the first half of the year alone, heavily contrasting the work ethics of other hip hop heavyweights who now more than ever tend to take ages to craft their projects (here’s looking at you Frank Ocean).
The constant releases as well as some other elements of this release, such as certain titles of the track “embracing the meme”, could leave you thinking that Jeffery is a release ran by gimmicks rather than genuine talent. Hell, the artwork alone has people heated up, debating whether or not the androgynous dress donning is progressive or exploitative which may be Thugger’s intention. “In my world, of course, it don’t matter: You could be a gangster with a dress or you could be a gangster with baggy pants,” he said in his campaign video. “I feel like there’s no such thing as gender.” In a genre that has often been criticised for its misogyny and, brace yourself, “politically incorrect” views, Young Thug manages to stand out before he even drops a line.
Thankfully, Young Thug has managed to overcome any doubts about the gimmicky nature of this project with songs ran by intriguing experimentation and unparalleled charm. From the get go it’s made abundantly clear that Thugger’s ability to camouflage into whatever style or or sound he’s faced with is matched only by a chameleon with his vocals managing to take on an predator-esque quality. This is especially true on Wyclef Jean where Thugger slip and slides effortlessly through the Caribbean vibes of which there are plenty . The aptly placed Reggae influences are a nod to the fact that most track names are merely misdirection with the main themes of romance and identity being the driving force of Jeffery. “I do me, I do” is a simple hook that manages to condense this message in a catchy way.
It’s for the best that this is the case though as doing so would no doubt leave some of Jeffery’s finest moments on the cutting room floor. Take for instance RiRi where Thugger’s vocals are at their undoubted weirdest, being so wheezy and croaky at the chorus that he verges on resembling a seal screeching in pain which is somehow evoking more than it is hilarious. Then there’s the elephant in the room which is Harambe, an odd choice considering Thugger said in an Instagram post that the tracks were named after people who he idolised. Much like his lyrics though, there’s not much of a reason to dig any deeper in hopes of finding some social commentary as we get Thug’s most primal delivery so far where he goes from vulnerable and gaspy to full on aggro. Dead meme or not, the vocal range on Harambe is an absolute delight and does the dead gorilla justice.
When Jeffery reaches its finally tuned ending with Kanye West, previously titled Elton John which isn’t hard to believe with a beautiful pre hook keyboard melody from Cassius Jay, we get Thugger being romantic in the only way he can with “Uh, I’m a vet but I’m ready to settle down / I don’t wanna know what’s next / It don’t matter what I do tonight / Cause I’ma know you the best-best-best, yes”. While this “romance” may be juxtaposed by the chorus about anal, the far and few touching lines on a wide array of these tracks, whether it be about doing trivial things or being up front on Harambe where he proclaims “I just want to have a baby by you, girl!”, are enough to balance out the one liners which are passable at worst and hilarious at best.
Whereas previous Young Thug releases have either felt too short or dragged out, the purely personal nature of Jeffery seems to be what makes it feel the perfectly length. “Jeffery is all about Jeffery,” he explained at the listening party. “It ain’t even about Young Thug. Ain’t no Young Thug songs on there.” This realised identity may be another step in the Thugger journey but with the ability to be so varied without losing the charm that has kept him running for his whole career, exciting things are bound for him. With every passing release, Hy!£UN35 seems to be even more unpredictable than anyone could anticipate including Jefferyf himself.
God knows that’s the way it should be.
-Liam Menzies (@blinkclyro)