Future – DS2
Took me a long time to get on the Future train, and I’m not sure I’m fully on-board yet: much prefer the moments when he slows down over frankly gorgeous beats (“Thought It Was a Drought,” “Where Ya At,” “Rotation”) than his bangers (ie. the Kill Bill alarms obscuring the potentially potent piano line of “Stick Talk”); any artist that can manage to turn “I just fucked your bitch in some Gucci flip-flops” as a hook and make us feel sorry for him simultaneously is worthy of our attention. As for the big question, this is certainly more consistent than Barter VI; the beats are more varied (ie. the gross beat – pure dirt, with the screams of a man on the edge of his existence – of “I Serve the Base” against “Where Ya At”; the synth-string line of “Groupies” at the 0:45 mark) and it’s overall better for it, even if I’d take “Check” or “Numbers” over any of these. Short review, but Robert Christgau has already made anything else redundant or irrelevant in his closing sentiment: “If only our deluded nation took hip-hop seriously, this miserable minor masterpiece would be all the proof we needed that money can’t buy happiness.”
Young Thug – Barter 6
“Check” and “Numbers” – both uncoincidentally produced by London on da Track, who is clearly Young Thug’s best weapon here (and both coincidentally summoning Shar Peis in the introducing verse) – are the two best songs. With regards to the former, you’re probably already privy to the oft-quoted “If cops pull up, I put that crack in my crack / Or, I put that brack in my brack,” but the entire first verse is great stuff, especially the way London holds the drums back for as long as he does (merely helping Thug out with menacing synths), the way Thug energetically runs through the dick climax (yeah) of the first verse and the way Thug trips out briefly in the second verse (“Geeked out my mind, man I’m tripping out / I don’t know none of these people”). Quoting a friend about that bit, you know you have something hot when the best line of your song is the one that no one can understand. And broadly speaking, London’s sombre piano chords (ie. during the hook of “I gotta check” that sounds anything but celebratory) adds an extra layer of personality to the song. And I thrill to hear Young Thug threaten to go to prison for the sole purpose of fucking my father on the hook of “Numbers” (especially the giddy way he sings it, like he can’t wait to do that), to say nothing of Young Thug’s rising yawn of “I’ma tell ‘em one tiiiiiiii-iiiii-ime” (the 2:06 mark). And what separates both of these songs, in addition to quotable one-liners or memorable moments of weirdness is the fact that London on da Track’s beats are varied in both; in particular, check out the strings that come in during the second half of “Numbers.”
I played my hand, but a lot of the rest of these songs are sometimes offensively unvaried, mostly relying on the hard knock of a bass (“Dome”) and maybe one extra element if you’re lucky (ie. the half-melody of “Constantly Hating”; the synth exhumed from a church on “OD”), and a lot of people not named Young Thug throughout that I can’t bring myself to care about. Elsewhere, “Never Had It” quickly loses its luster (and lines like “She running away from my weed like it farted / She don’t wanna swallow so I put it on her neck” are indicative of how Young Thug’s lyrical weirdness – as opposed to his sonic weirdness – often veer into juvenile humour; see also, “I nut on that fish on my sofa”); “Halftime”’s beat points ahead to Slime Season’s “Best Friend.” After those two songs, the only one that I see myself coming back to is closer “Just Might Be.” All told, a B+ is probably being kind.
With the disappointing releases of I’m Up and Slime Season 3 (which critics are writing are “more consistent” because they’re 8-9 tracks each instead of 13-20 with any sign of greatness by way of 1017 Thug, Rich Gang: Tha Tour Part 1, Barter 6 and Slime Season 1), I have my feeling that Thug’s moment to shine has passed. (Coincidentally, both of Future’s releases so far this year have also been disappointments.) But I won’t be sure until his long-awaited album drops.