Young Thug dropped his first purchasable mixtape via iTunes on April 17th, interestingly named Barter 6. The project was originally supposed to be titled Carter VI, after Wayne’s notorious run of studio albums, but was altered due to threatening legal action from Wayne’s side. It’s funny, because it’s obvious and a well-known fact that Thug idolizes and worships Wayne, alongside being constantly compared to him. It doesn’t surprise me when someone hears a Thug song for the first time and asks me if it’s “the new Wayne?” When I first heard of Thug’s music, Wayne was the first person to come to mind for me as well; that wasn’t the aspect of Thug’s music that kept me invested and consistently listening to Thug’s music, however. It was his ability to bend and twist his flows in all kinds of directions, pouring his heart out singing on some records, rapping bars faster than Twista on others, and doing both on several. He is very a much a versatile rapper in every sense of the word, and much like Wayne he is a rapper with mainstream pop sensibility and appeal. Much unlike Wayne, though, he was birthed from the world of Atlanta’s new generation of trap-influenced hip-hop, the sometimes overbearing world of social media, and post-rap masculinity. These traits makes Thug more now, more current, more relatable to the young 20-something rap fan looking for their next favorite rapper.
Thug manages to exert this versatility and talent on the mic exceptionally well on a handful of projects, most notably: I Came From Nothing 2, 1017 Thug, and Tha Tour, Part I. On these tapes, Thug sings, raps, croons, messes around with auto-tune, and does everything possible in between over some of the most unique rap production I’ve heard in years. Along with several SoundCloud loosies (see: “Treasure” and “The Blanguage” further below) and Internet singles released around the same time, Thug’s best output comes from those projects and is the primary reason why he’s been skyrocketing into rap popularity in the past few years:
From I Came From Nothing 2 (2011):
From 1017 Thug (2013):
From Gucci’s World War 3: Lean (2013)
From Rich Gang: Tha Tour, Pt. I (2014)
Above you can hear what I’m attempting to communicate: Thug has a knack for inverting what modern rap is supposed to sound like (or what you think it’s supposed to sound like) and regurgitating it back to the listener at intensifying speeds; with each of these tracks he’s building himself to be a better and better innovator, and you can hear the growth over time.
With Barter 6, I can’t help but think that that growth has somewhat been stunted. Maybe it’s the rap world putting him on an unrealistically high pedestal after a string of solid releases or maybe managerial pressure from Birdman and his Cash Money cohorts, but something about this project feels rushed and incomplete. It’s as if he took a handful of tracks from Tha Tour that didn’t make the final cut, digitally removed Quan, and hastily threw them together for Barter 6. It’s not that the songs are “bad” or lacking substance per se — the tracks on Tha Tour, sans Quan, were great — but it feels like Thug didn’t try as much as he could’ve knowing his potential. I think rap writer Noz put it best:
@DK_AD_ here and there they are but no real sustained ridiculousness like treasure or blanguage
— andrew (@noz) April 17, 2015
There is no real sustained ridiculousness on this project. There are definitely “weird” moments on occasion, but nothing quite as genre-bending as all of the songs referenced above.
Some of those more interesting sounding, lefter-field songs include: “Constantly Hating”, “Check” (you can watch the video below) , “With That”, “Halftime”, “Just Might Be”, and “OD”. Much of the other tracks, specifically ones featuring other Atlanta lesser–knowns, sound more like filler. Perhaps Thug should take more time with his next retail project? As Noz points out, the rapper seems to never stop recording, dropping an average of two-three tapes a year. It could be possible that Thug and his label are warming up his audience to him with a more subtle retail release and plan to really show his ability off on a proper debut to come. We’ll have to wait and see what else the rapper has in the works for the rest of 2015. For now, Young Thug is in stores and on everyone’s radar.
Stream Barter 6 below: