It's about time.
Young Thug was quick to become a critical darling. While some figures are relegated to that type of “fame” for the majority of their careers, never quite able to seep into the general public consciousness beyond whatever online pens or print authorities might say, Thug’s popularity trickled down-- the more he released, the more fans he earned, eventually picking up a cult-like following that spans everyone from not-so-angsty teenage white girls to grown-ass men to, as of late, grandmas.
Thugger’s progression hasn’t necessarily been linear, though. Similar to the way he weaves a warbled, tangled web of words, his career roll-out, whether the fault of the label’s or at Thug’s own behest (looking at you, HiTunes), has been wayward. There’s always been a ceiling, seemingly of Thug’s own creation, atop his career, refusing to allow a mainstream audience to overtake him. The blueprint he continues to lay along the way has been picked up in real time, examined, pulled apart and replicated by almost every rapper to come out since 2011.
Up until this point, Young Thug would often confound an apparent lack of self-awareness with a no-fucks-given attitude. The two qualities are difficult to decipher when it comes to Thug, bleeding into one another, leaving us to question the rapper’s motive, if there even is a motive. His 2018 EP titled Hear No Evil, is one such case: the three-song effort featured catchy tunes, each featuring a high-profile and in-demand artist-- edging out their chances of rampant radio play thanks to R-Rated lyrical content. Does Thug not know what he’s doing? It would be a disservice to say that much about the ATLien. And, finally, with the release of So Much Fun, he’s finally letting us know that he knows.
“Just How It Is” starts Thug’s own chorus of muted ‘woo woo’s’ sided by closed hi-hats and the plucking of a guitar. Thug’s woo’s, the audible form of ‘fun’ as it were, carries throughout the length of the album. The album is squealing, squeaking, squawking, and just about every other fun noise you can make, thanks to production from Wheezy, P’ierre Bourne, ATL Jacob, Southside and others.
As with any new Thug project, there is a clear evolution-- and perhaps that’s what always makes a new Thug release so exciting, we’re bound to receive something as-of-yet unheard-- albeit, Thug doesn’t take too many risks musically-speaking in this go-round. Instead, he’s giving us some of his most personable bars yet, not only in the sense of information, but also because of his focus on enunciation. “No time for gibberish, all the critics hearin' this,” he raps on “Just How It Is.”
Where once a Thug bar might be interpreted ten different ways depending on who you ask or what lyric site you visit, the lyrics on So Much Fun are much more difficult to misunderstand. The aesthetic of riches, bitches and drugs (there’s a song called “Ecstasy” that somehow contains a tribal-esque chanting of the word “ecstasy” with the funnest-of-fun bars: “Molly, Roxies/Oxycontin, Jubilee/Ostrich”) that has been prevalent on most of Thug’s music is still here too, but finally, Thug is also laying claim to what’s his: the wave. Even so, he’s humble with it. We wouldn’t have Gunna, Lil Baby, Lil Keed or any of the YSL affiliates/signees without Thugger’s drip, but on the horn-riddled, triumphant “Hot” he doesn’t hesitate to lend them credence while also recognizing his own influence. It’s a hurrah-moment for fans and critics alike: “I'm sick and tired of these young niggas act like they firin', they tellin' these lies/Actin' like they the ones created this and they get all this drip from my guys.” (In this same verse, he flitters through at least six different flows, discarding each easily with every new bar he lays).
“I can tell you how to die or how to live in this bitch/I can tell you how to talk the most impeccable shit/I can show you how to walk like you got decimals,” he raps on “Just How It Is,” and indeed, he seems to have done just this for every artist he puts on. Perhaps his biggest claim to the wave though, comes in the form of “Surf.” “These niggas gon' ride the wave/These niggas gon' copy for days/These niggas gon' ride the wave/ They tryna find out where I stay,” he sings on the hook, not mincing his words or his pronunciation of said words. The airy record, produced by P’ierre Bourne is So Much Fun in sum: it’s Thug being acutely aware of his wave creation, it’s got that summertime-light-hearted vibe which is prominent throughout the album, it’s got Gunna. It’s also not a fast fan-favorite off the album, but it’s an accurate portrayal of what we’re getting with his debut album.
So Much Fun is an easy flex from Young Thug. Each of the 19 songs is a showcase of Thug enjoying the life he’s created for himself and his slimes, a life he was destined for (“I escaped every one of the licks 'cause I was supposed to be rich”) which is perhaps why he makes it look and sound so effortless. It’s not only about Thug either, it’s about his family-- “it ain't no fun, if the homies can't have none,” to quote Snoop Dogg. This is clearly Thug’s take on life, too. While So Much Fun doesn’t break down any new walls from a sound perspective-- whereas a project like Beautiful Thugger Girls arguably incited our current country-rap fascination-- it’s a reminder of why we love Thug so much in the first place. He’s just so much freaking fun to listen to.