ARTIST: YOUNG THUG
ALBUM: BARTER 6
LABEL (YEAR): 300 ENTERTAINMENT (2015)
FOR FANS OF: VINCE STAPLES, PUSHA T
Words by Evan Musgrave
Placing a Young Thug release in a conclusive context is anything but an easy task – he barely leaves enough time between album-length works for listeners to digest them. This is of course one of his great strengths as an artist. He maintains relevance in a world defined by a digital information overload quite simply by bringing more energy, more consistently than any of his colleagues in the rap game. That all being said, it feels safe to say, for now, that Barter 6 is the definitive work of Thug’s career thus far.
It contains all the essential colours of his palette: social media trolling (the controversy surrounding the title – which is a homage/hijack depending on who you ask, of Lil Wayne’s famous series – spread like wild fire in the build-up to the album’s release); highly-polarising accompanying imagery (he poses naked on the cover, befitting his general assault on gender norms in hip-hop); changes in tone and tempo several times per song (which happens on every song); and an improbable knack for capturing melody in the most unlikely places (ditto). It is in this vain that Young Thug never ceases to challenge the listener’s expectations.
Barter 6's thirteen tracks are cloaked in an atmospheric trap sound which, like several notable contemporary Atlanta artists, symbolises the forward-thinking zeitgeist of contemporary Southern/Southern-influenced hip-hop.
Young Thug’s perplexing knack for flipping between autotuned croons and staccato rapping (and plenty in between), while never departing from a commitment to maintaining a melodic chain across every utterance, suggests a long and arduous spell spent in the studio ironing it all out. This, paired alongside the fact that his song-writing approach typically involves no more than a few takes – he claims to have created his biggest hit within ten minutes – is an introduction to the crux of modern hip-hop’s greatest enigmatic talent, and the reason why his growing audience is ravenous for what’s coming next.
Key tracks: 'Constantly Hating', 'Dome', 'OD', 'Number'