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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Thug taking the gangsta out of modern hip-hop

    Courtesy+of+1017+Brick+Squad+Records

    Courtesy of 1017 Brick Squad Records

    From the new breed of up-and-coming rappers rising from the hip-hop hotbed of Atlanta, Young Thug stands out with his music, style and social media presence.

    Thug rose to fame on the strength of his hit “Stoner” and has since been featured on a laundry list of songs, including the radio smash “Lifestyle.” However, Thug is more than your average rapper who produces one hit before disappearing into mediocrity.

    His most recent mixtape is a collaboration between himself and fellow Atlanta rapper Rich Homie Quan called “Tha Tour Part 1.” The mixtape serves as the most consistent full-length project Thug has put out, with his previous releases being a mixed bag of either earworm hooks or sloppy, unfocused verses. “Tha Tour Part 1” sees Thug honing his abilities, while still maintaining his originality.

    There is something inescapable about Thug. His off-kilter flow and lyrics feel more like a stream of consciousness; his yelps and warbles sound like nothing you’ve heard before. In fact, it seems as if Young Thug is not even of this world; at times, it’s as if he’s speaking a gibberish language only he understands, or he’ll connect ideas with metaphors that make little sense.

    The closest comparison we have to Thug is Future, another Atlanta rapper, whose hoarse, hyper-autotuned vocal style sounds more robotic than human. While Future’s sound is cold and mechanized, Thug’s is that of an alien from a distant planet: intriguing, yet unsettling. Thug sounds dark and tortured, even when rapping about money and women, yelping and moaning as if he yearns for something mysterious and unattainable.

    Thug has left the hip-hop world divided over more than just his music. After posting a photo of himself in a dress and nail polish, as well as referring to other men as “love” or “babe” on Instagram, rumors have spread about his sexuality. Many of those within the culture, such as emcee Lord Jamar from the ’90s hip-hop group Brand Nubian, are uncomfortable with the direction Thug is taking, almost as if he will endanger hip-hop’s integrity.

    For a genre that has long been associated with hyper-masculinity and the idea of being “hard,” the vulnerable sounds and musings of Thug appear threatening. Thug is the antithesis of ideas cultivated during the days of gangsta rap. He unabashedly blazes a new trail, alienating those stuck in the past who are attempting to define what hip-hop “should” be rather than looking to the future of what the genre and the culture could become.

    Thug’s boundary-pushing ambiguity is what draws me and countless others to him, and leaves us waiting anxiously for his next feature. We are amidst a new wave of hip-hop, one that is progressing into unfamiliar territory, and the enigmatic Young Thug is leading the journey.

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    Andre Pettman is a guest columnist from KAMP Student Radio.

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