By Nathaniel Nelson
If David Bowie circa “Aladdin Sane” had a baby with Taiwanese emcee Aristophanes circa “Scream,” and James Brown circa “Sex Machine” had a baby with an octopus, and those two children grew up, met one another, and had a baby together, that baby would be Young Thug.
YT’s got a lot of great verses—ones that flow well, vibe with the beat perfectly, are particularly quotable or funny—but this list is not quite for those. Below are the bars that’ll not only get you bumpin’, but might well blow your damn mind. Without further ado, in honor of his new mixtape (album?) and upcoming set at this weekend’s inaugural Magnificent Coloring Day Festival, 10 of Jeffery’s Craziest-Of-All-Time verses:
8. “2 Cups Stuffed” – 1017 Thug – Young Thug
Eight bars of pure turn-up in a song that’s non-stop turning up. This is no-holds-barred auditory cocaine, from a pre-mainstream, pre-label, pre-auto-tune Young Thug. Q: What are the two cups stuffed with, Jeffery? A: Lean, lean, lean, lean, lean, lean, lean, lean, lean, lean, lean!
7. “Thinkin’ Out Loud (#TOL)” – I Came From Nothing 3 – Young Thug
This verse is so not weird that it ends up being much weirder than just about anything Young Thug’s ever spit. I’ve spent a good deal of the past couple years listening to this eccentric rapper, and even I had to double check on Rap Genius that this was in fact him, and not a feature. Below an overbearingly loud beat, Jeffery calmly speaks the most banal rhymes he’s ever produced.
6. “Skyfall” – Days Before Rodeo – Travi$ Scott
LIKE A GAME THAT GET PLAYED BY KID!
5. “Constantly Hating” – Barter 6 – Young Thug
“Constantly Hating” is a demonstration in wave interference, with Thug’s voice trailing in and out over a wavy Wheezy beat. The music fluctuates, nearing silence at points, before the beat rises and his words “HOP!”, “SKRRR!” and “BRRR…” Somehow, at his most disciplined, Thug doesn’t come off any less odd (if anything, more so).
4. “That N*gga” – Ingleworld 2 – Skeme
This little-known, 8-bar feature is the most disarming moment on a quality mixtape by west coast rapper Skeme, with Thug’s surreally high-pitched cadence reaching punched-in-the-nuts levels. It turns 180 degrees away from Skeme’s testosterone-fueled flow on a song celebrating being the fucking man, which sort of encapsulates Thug’s whole nu-male deal. He brings the song entirely over to himself, not the other way around.
3. “Drippin’” – Slime Season 3 – Young Thug
This one isn’t even English, so I feel for whatever intern had to transcribe it into Rap Genius. Drippin’ represents not only an evolution of Thug’s signature dialect, Thugese, but a total deconstruction of hip-hop language to its basic ingredients. This is what your grandmother hears when you put Jay Z on the radio. While rap music has always had its emcees of deliberate alliteration—Jeru the Damaja, Grandmaster Flash, and the like—Young Thug descends directly from the “bang bang boogie” lineage.
2. “Harambe” – No, My Name is Jeffery – Young Thug/No, My Name is Jeffery
Jeffery Williams’ idea of a joke, it seems, is to make the standout track from his newest and best mixtape a song named after a famous gorilla (side note: #dicksoutforharambe). As if it weren’t enough that he dressed like Sub-Zero’s wife for the album cover, or named the first track “Wyclef Jean” but featured the real Wyclef Jean on a separate track named “Kanye West,” he also made the greatest contribution to 2016’s most prolific internet meme with a song equal parts raging, exciting, exhaustive, wrenching, and even emotional.
1. “Givenchy” – Tha Tour Pt. 2 – Rich Gang
The making of a monster. If Kendrick’s “Control” verse won 2013, Young Thug took the belt the following year. In the timeline from Biggie’s street freestyle to Kanye’s 18 Years Def Jam Poetry bit, Thug’s minute-long rap onslaught in “Givenchy” will forever stand as the marker of exactly when we realized this guy would have a place in hip-hop history.
Nathaniel Nelson (N8) is a filmmaker and writer.
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