Posted by , Feb 8, 2016 at 05:30pm
EDITOR RATING
78%
Golden: 4Broken: 0
Unanimous
AUDIENCE RATING
49%
325 votes
Editor reviews (tap to expand)
74%
Patrick Lyons
Unfocused, but not unenjoyable
Thug's shortest tape to date is also his most scattered, but "I'm Up" is still a very fun listen.
1826
74%
Rose Lilah
Thugger putting on for his many people
"I'm Up" feels a little thrown together, or perhaps it's just throwaways (given the fact that he announced his change in plans a day before the release, it's unsurprising), but you'll find a gem or two within the 9 songs. Still, it's not as cohesive in sound as past Thugger releases, nor as consistently-fire, so I'll stay waiting for SS3.
1827
84%
Angus Walker
He's up
Young Thug's "I'm Up" is his shortest tape, with 9 tracks and just 7 brand new ones. Though it's a quick listen, "I'm Up" is thoroughly enjoyable. Unlike either "Slime Season," there aren't any months-old leaks, and these new tracks find Thug exploring a lighter, uplifting sound. The instrumentals -- including 4 choice beats from Wheezy -- have a blithe ambience about them, but what's most enjoyable is how they create backdrops that are simple enough for Thugger to really be himself and execute some of his most inspiring ideas. He's feeling "up," and his strange and spontaneous brand of positivity quickly becomes contagious on his new project.
2448
79%
Trevor Smith
First clear look at Thug's next step
"I'm Up" isn't as carefully mixed, mastered or sequenced as the Slime Season tapes, but there is new energy and ideas throughout its short runtime. While his peers continue down the increasingly dark alleyways of Atlanta's sound, Thug has chosen the light. The first song on this is called "Fuck Cancer" after all, and if that's not a great sign of what's to come, I'm not sure what is.
1927
User  Rating:
meh
49% (325)
Rate it!
audience rating
120 VERY HOTTTTT
29 HOTTTTT
28 MEH
16 NOT FEELING IT
132 MAKE IT STOP
User Rating:
49% (325)
Thug keeps things exciting and enjoyable on the brief "I'm Up," but it's not as satisfying as his other projects.

In a hip hop climate that's almost unhealthily focused on trending topics and followers, no one has committed to and excelled in catering to short attention spans like Future and Young Thug. Both record with a fervor that's unmatched by anyone this side of post-prison Boosie, and have rumored multitudes of unreleased projects in the vaults, yes, but also seem hellbent on releasing projects as frequently as they can. What was astounding about Future's Monster-to-DS2 run, and to a lesser extent, Thugger's streak from Rich Gang's Tha Tour Pt. 1 to last Halloween's Slime Season 2, was how little filler there was in so much material (50 new tracks from Future, 73 from Thug). The narrative seemed to be changing this year after Future's Purple Reign failed to ignite as much hype as its predecessors (regardless of its quality), and in that sense, Thug's new I'm Up is similar. Both feel like stopgap releases before bigger projects, with Thugger's Slime Season 3 and Hitunes still on the way, and Future's EVOL arriving just a few weeks after Purple Reign (more on that tape on Wednesday). But convenient narratives aside, the actual contrast between the music on the two tapes is a better sign than ever that comparisons between the two ATLiens pretty much ends at their release strategies. 

Whereas Future's nailed down and continued to hone a specific sound, Young Thug's still experimenting as vibrantly as he ever was. Despite being shorter than all three of Thug's 2015 projects, I'm Up might be the most eclectic, containing the Cash Money bounce of "Fuck Cancer," the eerie and cavernous "My Boys," "King TROUP," and "Ridin," the majestic "Hercules," and most startlingly of all, the metallic ping-ponging of "For My People." It's also the most crowded, with no less than ten other rappers featured on its nine tracks. In this sense, it's basically the polar opposite of the hypnotic, slow-burning Barter 6-- I'm Up jars you with its multitude of voices, sounds, and messages.

It's really quite paradoxical that Thugger's most variety pack-esque release contains his most political and heartfelt themes-- an anti-cancer tribute to Boosie, odes to his "Boys" and literal "Family," a dedication to gunned-down College Park businessman Keith Troup-- but the concept of Thug releasing "tribute" tracks is even more of a puzzler. The undeniable thrills of hearing Thugger rap lie in the speed at which he devours concepts, deliveries, melodies, wordplay— everything moves so fast, all poetic devices flash by, and there's no room left for an extended metaphor or song-length symbolism. He does sneak in some on-topic sentiments on these more meaningful tracks, delivering messages like "stop the killing" and "I take care of my kids with a passion," but they're always sandwiched between (admittedly creative) bars about looking fly, stacking racks and pouring up. "Fuck Cancer" exemplifies this, with its first line being the only one that's remotely related to the song's title. This isn't to say that we shouldn't still gape in awe at Thug's bizarro rapping (there's literally no one else who'd describe cash-stuffed pockets as looking "like a book with the worm in it"), but if anyone tries to tell you that he's maturing or focusing on more meaningful subject matter, tell them to look deeper than the song titles. We may never get a Thug song that stays on-topic 100% of the time, but that seems a fair price to pay to witness his weirdness at work.

I'm Up's guests are yet another mixed bag, with big-time stars like Lil Durk and 2/3rds of Migos sharing time with ATL up-and-comers like Ralo and Young Butta, as well as Thugger's sisters, Dora and Dolly. Of them, the melodically-inclined Durk seems to share the most chemistry with Thug, while Quavo and Offset are the only ones capable of keeping up with his free-associative bars. No one else adds that much, although Ralo somehow steals the "weirdest voice" award here, and it is rather awesome to see Thug put on for his sisters. Even after the marathon-length, largely solo Slime Season tapes, I still craved more of Thug's elastic, inventive vocal performances, and this tape didn't exactly quench that.

The two standouts here are the two previously-released tracks, "Fuck Cancer" and "Hercules," both much more propulsive, longer-lasting, and tighter than the other flashes of brilliance on this tape. With multiple catchy melodies apiece, brilliant beats that seem to run alongside Thug rather than sit there as foundations for his vocal acrobatics, and little distraction from outside forces (Quavo can hang), they're among the finest showcases of Thug's considerable abilities we've gotten thus far. Thugger records like a savant, never relying on notebooks, and usually only needing a few takes to iron out his delivery, and his strongest cuts are the ones that bear no evidence of this. Most of I'm Up seems like sketches-- prodigious, wildly impressive ones, no doubt-- but it really only has two fully-fledged songs. There's no doubt in my mind that Thugger will continue to astound listeners for years to come, but if he's looking to up his game, he'll need to work harder on composition while making it look easier than ever. 

Review: Young Thug's "I'm Up"

 
78%

Editor rating

Golden: 4 Broken: 0
Unanimous

Audience rating

325 votes
49 %

Editor Rating

74%
Patrick Lyons Unfocused, but not unenjoyable
Thug's shortest tape to date is also his most scattered, but "I'm Up" is still a very fun listen.
1826
74%
Rose Lilah Thugger putting on for his many people
"I'm Up" feels a little thrown together, or perhaps it's just throwaways (given the fact that he announced his change in plans a day before the release, it's unsurprising), but you'll find a gem or two within the 9 songs. Still, it's not as cohesive in sound as past Thugger releases, nor as consistently-fire, so I'll stay waiting for SS3.
1827
84%
Angus Walker He's up
Young Thug's "I'm Up" is his shortest tape, with 9 tracks and just 7 brand new ones. Though it's a quick listen, "I'm Up" is thoroughly enjoyable. Unlike either "Slime Season," there aren't any months-old leaks, and these new tracks find Thug exploring a lighter, uplifting sound. The instrumentals -- including 4 choice beats from Wheezy -- have a blithe ambience about them, but what's most enjoyable is how they create backdrops that are simple enough for Thugger to really be himself and execute some of his most inspiring ideas. He's feeling "up," and his strange and spontaneous brand of positivity quickly becomes contagious on his new project.
2448
79%
Trevor Smith First clear look at Thug's next step
"I'm Up" isn't as carefully mixed, mastered or sequenced as the Slime Season tapes, but there is new energy and ideas throughout its short runtime. While his peers continue down the increasingly dark alleyways of Atlanta's sound, Thug has chosen the light. The first song on this is called "Fuck Cancer" after all, and if that's not a great sign of what's to come, I'm not sure what is.
1927

Audience Rating

How do you rate this album/mixtape?
User  Rating:
audience rating
120 VERY HOTTTTT
29 HOTTTTT
28 MEH
16 NOT FEELING IT
132 MAKE IT STOP
 

Thug keeps things exciting and enjoyable on the brief "I'm Up," but it's not as satisfying as his other projects.


In a hip hop climate that's almost unhealthily focused on trending topics and followers, no one has committed to and excelled in catering to short attention spans like Future and Young Thug. Both record with a fervor that's unmatched by anyone this side of post-prison Boosie, and have rumored multitudes of unreleased projects in the vaults, yes, but also seem hellbent on releasing projects as frequently as they can. What was astounding about Future's Monster-to-DS2 run, and to a lesser extent, Thugger's streak from Rich Gang's Tha Tour Pt. 1 to last Halloween's Slime Season 2, was how little filler there was in so much material (50 new tracks from Future, 73 from Thug). The narrative seemed to be changing this year after Future's Purple Reign failed to ignite as much hype as its predecessors (regardless of its quality), and in that sense, Thug's new I'm Up is similar. Both feel like stopgap releases before bigger projects, with Thugger's Slime Season 3 and Hitunes still on the way, and Future's EVOL arriving just a few weeks after Purple Reign (more on that tape on Wednesday). But convenient narratives aside, the actual contrast between the music on the two tapes is a better sign than ever that comparisons between the two ATLiens pretty much ends at their release strategies. 

Whereas Future's nailed down and continued to hone a specific sound, Young Thug's still experimenting as vibrantly as he ever was. Despite being shorter than all three of Thug's 2015 projects, I'm Up might be the most eclectic, containing the Cash Money bounce of "Fuck Cancer," the eerie and cavernous "My Boys," "King TROUP," and "Ridin," the majestic "Hercules," and most startlingly of all, the metallic ping-ponging of "For My People." It's also the most crowded, with no less than ten other rappers featured on its nine tracks. In this sense, it's basically the polar opposite of the hypnotic, slow-burning Barter 6-- I'm Up jars you with its multitude of voices, sounds, and messages.

It's really quite paradoxical that Thugger's most variety pack-esque release contains his most political and heartfelt themes-- an anti-cancer tribute to Boosie, odes to his "Boys" and literal "Family," a dedication to gunned-down College Park businessman Keith Troup-- but the concept of Thug releasing "tribute" tracks is even more of a puzzler. The undeniable thrills of hearing Thugger rap lie in the speed at which he devours concepts, deliveries, melodies, wordplay— everything moves so fast, all poetic devices flash by, and there's no room left for an extended metaphor or song-length symbolism. He does sneak in some on-topic sentiments on these more meaningful tracks, delivering messages like "stop the killing" and "I take care of my kids with a passion," but they're always sandwiched between (admittedly creative) bars about looking fly, stacking racks and pouring up. "Fuck Cancer" exemplifies this, with its first line being the only one that's remotely related to the song's title. This isn't to say that we shouldn't still gape in awe at Thug's bizarro rapping (there's literally no one else who'd describe cash-stuffed pockets as looking "like a book with the worm in it"), but if anyone tries to tell you that he's maturing or focusing on more meaningful subject matter, tell them to look deeper than the song titles. We may never get a Thug song that stays on-topic 100% of the time, but that seems a fair price to pay to witness his weirdness at work.

I'm Up's guests are yet another mixed bag, with big-time stars like Lil Durk and 2/3rds of Migos sharing time with ATL up-and-comers like Ralo and Young Butta, as well as Thugger's sisters, Dora and Dolly. Of them, the melodically-inclined Durk seems to share the most chemistry with Thug, while Quavo and Offset are the only ones capable of keeping up with his free-associative bars. No one else adds that much, although Ralo somehow steals the "weirdest voice" award here, and it is rather awesome to see Thug put on for his sisters. Even after the marathon-length, largely solo Slime Season tapes, I still craved more of Thug's elastic, inventive vocal performances, and this tape didn't exactly quench that.

The two standouts here are the two previously-released tracks, "Fuck Cancer" and "Hercules," both much more propulsive, longer-lasting, and tighter than the other flashes of brilliance on this tape. With multiple catchy melodies apiece, brilliant beats that seem to run alongside Thug rather than sit there as foundations for his vocal acrobatics, and little distraction from outside forces (Quavo can hang), they're among the finest showcases of Thug's considerable abilities we've gotten thus far. Thugger records like a savant, never relying on notebooks, and usually only needing a few takes to iron out his delivery, and his strongest cuts are the ones that bear no evidence of this. Most of I'm Up seems like sketches-- prodigious, wildly impressive ones, no doubt-- but it really only has two fully-fledged songs. There's no doubt in my mind that Thugger will continue to astound listeners for years to come, but if he's looking to up his game, he'll need to work harder on composition while making it look easier than ever. 

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