Over the course of Young Thug's historic career, so many songs that he recorded were left in the vault. It's from this treasure trove that he and Metro Boomin, executive producer, delivered BUSINESS IS BUSINESS, Thug's third studio album. That fact is one of many bits of context that loom over the project, the other big one being the Atlanta MC's incarceration on RICO charges. With this in mind, many fans wondered what this new set of tracks would contain: will it have new poorly recorded verses from jail, reflections on his situation, revamped old verses and beats, or is this just a way for YSL to make a buck? The answer involves a small bit of the first two and a lot of the last two, but it doesn't make BUSINESS IS BUSINESS any less of an entertaining, well-composed, or vibrant testament to Thug's talents.
But what "business" is he talking about here? Well, the usual: money, women, hustling, expensive jewelry, hilarious sexual bars, and an obviously understandable hesitation to talk about street life or violent activity. Lyrically, Young Thug thrives off of cheeky lines (like "Pourin' weed in her p***y like I'm Bob Marley" on "Cars Bring Me Out") and blunt, simple flexing that could be tied to his family situation (like "First thing I did was make sure that my whole family up" on "Mad Dog"). If you're a fan, you know that this is nothing new for Thugger, and even less so in rap at large. Instead, his voice, flow, and charisma elevate these tropes and communicate more feelings than his words.
Young Thug's Versatility
BUSINESS IS BUSINESS's greatest sonic strength is its versatility. For every hedonistic or materialistic stanza, there's an expressive and ear-perking delivery that makes Young Thug's music so unique. The production similarly refuses to stay in one lane and explores menace, brightness, melody, and somberness in the trap sub-genre. Not only that, but these tracks being leftovers and unreleased tracks throughout his discography mean that they can sometimes be more experimental cuts outside of his comfort zone. "Money On The Dresser" not only honors "Int'l Players Anthem" by UGK and Outkast, but sees the 31-year-old deliver both a low-toned husky growl and a nasal, unrestrained vocal leap.
What's more is that there are so many voices to be found on BUSINESS IS BUSINESS. The authoritative verses on "Cars Bring Me Out," the strained and impassioned inflections on "Went Thru It," the whispery "Want Me Dead," and the playful vocal melodies on "Gucci Grocery Bag" are just a few examples. You can expect Young Thug to display multiple moods and vocal strategies on the album, which makes it an engaging start-to-finish listen. Sure, you can say the same about most of Thug's catalog. However, he will always stumble into uncharted territory at least a few times, and there are some examples of that here.
BUSINESS IS BUSINESS: Production & Features
Meanwhile, the album's production features not only Metro Boomin, but also Southside, London On Da Track, F1LTHY, and a few others. With Metro masterminding the vault picks, most of the album's varied consistency is his achievement. Sure, there are some more uneventful beats like "Hellcat Kenny," "Went Thru It," and "Hoodie" on here. However, those songs are often elevated by the performances; even the beat carries sometimes, like on the menacing and epic "Uncle M." That track contains one of many great samples here, taking from Travis Scott's "MAFIA" and Future's collab with Thugger and Gunna, "FOR A NUT." Other production standouts are the glistening "Oh U Went," the gorgeous album winner "Jonesboro," "Money On The Dresser" with its organ hits and trippy synthesizers, and "Mad Dog" with its creative beat rewinds.
Another anticipated element of this album were the features, which although inconsistent, set some high bars. There is 21 "I Can't Miss On A Feature" S*vage here twice, and Travis Scott and Drake have double appearances as well. Moreover, each MC has a feature that's better than the other here (peep "Oh U Went," "Want Me Dead," and "Wit Da Racks" for that), but they all either match Young Thug's energy or bring their own. 21 is authoritative and clever, Drizzy comes through with snappy bars and melodies, and La Flame plays at both fast and slow speeds with references to Thug's family and his hometown's YSL spot, Cleveland Ave., which Drake does as well. Lil Uzi Vert slides on "Hellcat Kenny" despite a meager beat. Future matches Thugger's power on "Cars Bring Me Out."
Where Did Young Thug Misstep?
Despite that, shorter features from Yak Gotti, BSlime, and Lil Gotit left more to be desired, and Nate Ruess' singing on "Global Access" was clearly added to sentimentally tie the album into the current court case. The features are good here, although Young Thug is clearly the star of the show. However, the album's biggest weakness is that it doesn't really progress his career forward. It's more or less exactly what we expected, which is a good thing in terms of quality, but leaves little to look back on as truly career-defining moments. Of course, a lot of that is owed to these tracks being old and Thug's imprisonment, and with that in mind, the team here delivered the absolute best-case scenario with what they had, a commendable achievement of its own.
Meanwhile, there are two big considerations to keep in mind after Young Thug's album's release. Firstly, there's the track sequencing, which Metro Boomin updated through his version of the album released earlier this week. Also, it contains two new tracks: the long-awaited and anthemic "Money" with Nicki Minaj and Juice WRLD and the easy-going "Sake Of My Kids." While both versions of the album flow quite well, Metro's version is more straightforward whereas the original emphasizes the tracksuit variety. Not only that, but the added songs don't bloat this album out at all, a feat for expanded trackless these days.
What Does BUSINESS IS BUSINESS Want To Say?
Finally, there's the presumed beef with Gunna for his plea deals, a question that BUSINESS IS BUSINESS understandably doesn't answer. After all, was he really going to get out of jail just to record a subliminal? In addition, Young Thug didn't avoid topics of snitching and prison time in his music; in fact, they permeate it. Overall, these many aspects of the project lead to a big question in listeners' minds. Why did they release this album now, why put out these old tracks, and why isn't it as mind-blowing as many blindly thought it would be? Actually, there might just be an answer in the album's title and cover art, because, at the end of the day, business is business.
As Thugger looks back from the courtroom at his old songs, he sees a way to help his family and continue his artistic legacy. As for the Gunna situation, they're both on the YSL label, and both have families to provide for. This album owes much of its identity and quality to its context, them being older tracks with some added references that make bars about the streets ring all the more true. But it also sidesteps much of that to provide some purely fun and vibrant trap songs from one of the best to ever do it. Many fans might find this album hard to stomach and will lament the fact that there was probably a better album on the way. But one thing you can't deny is that BUSINESS IS BUSINESS still shows why Young Thug is such a beloved, one-of-a-kind, and important rapper in the game.