Three years ago today, SEX - then Young Thug - and his army of Atlantan wizards (engineer Alex Tumay, producers London On Da Track, Wheezy, Ricky Racks - to name just a few) stumbled upon gold. Amidst the rampant and reckless Rich Gang sessions, overseen by the eternally omnipresent Birdman, this crew of lifelong friends and new acquaintances alike had somehow managed to make time stop; together, they created a time capsule of unfiltered creativity that captured numerous rising stars at the electric height of their come up. More significant than any of the controversy or beef was the sheer undeniable quality of the music Thug had started releasing. Innovative, daring and demonstrably influential, Barter 6 is and still remains Young Thug’s strongest body of work.

That’s not to say he peaked three years ago, though. Even the uninitiated could point to multiple Thugger projects worthy of note and about twice as many that they haven’t heard yet. This begs the question: what are your official top 3 Young Thug projects? Yeah, we know. This is a tough one. Let’s take a walk through our choices first so you can gather yourself.

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  1. Barter 6

This is a no brainer, right? No other Young Thug project has proven to be as forward-thinking, as immediately captivating as it is subtly poignant. What was deemed at the moment of release to be an indecipherable mess made just for core fans quickly proved to not only signify a trendsetting shift in rap, but also a perfect entry points for new fans. There are still new lines to catch, new flows to master and new ad-libs to be discovered. These are timeless earworms, somehow still nestled deep within our prefrontal cortex, three long and draining years later, painting our worldview in ways we may not even acknowledge. “Livin’ life bro I’m happy” is more of a mantra than a lyric and Barter 6 is more gospel than entertainment.

  1. BEAUTIFUL THUGGER GIRLS

BEAUTIFUL THUGGER GIRLS arrived in June of 2017 like an alien transmission. We approached it as such - no one knew what to make of the cultish cover or promo, the country snippets, the declaration that this was to be a “singing album” - and as such, Thug’s most recent full length album went the same way as his opus. Reception was muted and first-takes were full of misplaced expectations. But the content was pristine. Where I’m Up, Slime Season 3 and Jeffrey could be viewed as necessary building blocks, BTG - once deciphered - starts to feel like a transcendent collection of soul cleansing hymns that will stand the test of time. It may not have been as concentrated of an effort as B6, but the sprawling structure lends to its own sense of purpose. B6 teleported us to a new world while BTG pushed us forward 300 years to show off they beautifully idyllic future Jeffrey had willed into existence.

  1. I’m Up

Stop! Before you downvote, just consider this: I’m Up may be one of Thug’s most personal projects to date. Amidst personal loss and professional beef, Thug continued to play the renegade while remaining loyal only to those who reciprocated his gestures with equal vigor. The intro is a hypnotically fervent dedication to a recovering Boosie. The outro is a sweeping posse cut with his sisters. The “filler” tracks still go out of their way to bring the best out of a slew of rising acts: Lil Durk, Trouble, Ralo, Solo Lucci, Young Butta. It also contains Thug’s last official solo release with Metro Boomin’ (which, this writer wants to note, is super weird considering Future and Thug are bffs now - so, like, wtf?). And then there’s the one-two punch of “For My People” &  “King TROUP.” Thug was seeing ghosts, meeting with Farrakhan and feeling as special as Hercules.

What are your favorite Young Thug albums? 1017 Thug, Jeffery, Slime Season 3 - we know there are quite a few to consider! Peep our argument for a Hear No Evil EP series here

Here’s a poll to make things a bit easier: