Young Thug’s ‘Slime Language’ Is Absolutely Ridiculous, in the Best Way

Our notions of what popular music is supposed to sound like are pretty cemented, the result of lifetimes of conditioning. Sometimes, a radical style pops up out of the blue, stirring things up, and changing musical history. Other times, things evolve gradually, passing under the radar, and registering as something of the norm by the time they arrive, when, in fact, if you took a moment to consider them, they are truly rather revolutionary. A case in point is Young Thug. You might be inclined to classify him as just another rapper, but perhaps you should put all things to a side, and really ask yourself, “What is this?!” What has somehow infiltrated the mainstream is actually more bizarre than any underground, avant garde sound art that you could imagine. Auto-tune is one thing, but Thug takes it to next level. His songs all play like a stream of consciousness, with him randomly switching from machine-gun rapping to alien intonations and giddy singing. There’s hardly any format to it, which makes it some of the most artistically free music around. Thug’s latest release, ‘Slime Language’ is very much more of the same, but the product was so wild to begin with that it’s still a bit mind-blowing.

The album is very giddy, from beginning to end. There’s much more singing than rapping, and it comes in whimsical spurts. At this point, “hip-hop.” as a genre has become a bit tired and predictable. There’s the usual rapper making his best case about how badass he is, with money, cars, and hoes. Then, you have the old school fanatics, who wear their fitted hats, and do breakdancing routines in the NYC subway. It’s all a little old. But then, you have people like Young Thug, who seem as if they’ve come from some isolated island, given a CD or two, and left to come up with their own idea of what music is. “U Aint Slime Enough” is possibly the apex of the Auto-Tune phenomenon, showing Thug and featured guests, Karlae and Duke, taking everythings to farcical levels, and basking in all the glory.

Fast rapping has largely disappeared from the mainstream, since the days of Busta Rhymes, so Young Thug is a welcome change, and the saving grace to rap enthusiasts world round. On “Gain Cloud,” he more than shows off his chops. The guest appearances seem well chosen, for example in “Oh Yeah,” in which featured artist HiDoraah, Thug’s sister, serves as an effective counterpart, with she and him sparring with each other in a sea of Auto-Tune, and somehow seeming to bring out the best in one another. “Audemar,” featuring rapper Tracy T, actually brings some rap into an album that would otherwise inaccurately be shelved under the rap category. The biggest star appearance here is from Lil Uzi Vert, on “It’s a Slime,” and it’s an apt parring, as it brings together two rappers who share much the same aesthetic, but both with their own individual quirks.  

On the whole, “Slime Language” comes across as a celebratory album. It has the feel of mindless revelry, with a certain freeness of spirit that only Thug could convey. Fans of Thug have probably seen the “Wyclef Jean” video, and if not, should immediately stop and look it up. He booked a $100k video, only showed up 10 hours late, and made a cameo,eating Cheetos with so much swag that he totally owned it. ‘Slime Language’ is the feeling of that video, condensed and amplified. It’s a fearless, fun loving hip-hop excursion that’s so ridiculous that you can’t help but love it.

Slime Language” is available Aug. 17 on Apple Music.