Review Summary: Lots of blowjob lyrics, some good P'ierre Bourne beats, classic Thugger energy. A sugary commercial project punctuated with moments of pleasure.
When I pressed play on Young Thug’s So Much Fun this morning I was thinking about the fond memories I have listening to Young Thug’s singular and influential style. His “On the Rvn” EP from 2018 was one of my favorite projects I listened to last year. JEFFERY was on repeat for me in the spring of 2017. His energy is certainly infectious and the close listening I applied to the album today didn’t enrich my experience.
I think I could have worked on cooking up some ricin to surreptitiously deliver in a cigarette or some related form to Brasilia and eventually Jair Bolsonaro. Instead, I sat at my computer and truly listened to every word on the album. In addition to words, the album also features beats, which were undoubtedly a part of the listening experience due to the fact that they were there. I will now highlight beats, features, and lyrics in that order.
The best beats were ones that involved some form of guitar. The “Circle of Bosses” beat is a tender addition to the album. The plucking guitar complements Quavo’s voice like a cold glass of water complements a cold slice of watermelon. I didn’t really need the other thing once I had one of the things, but I am happy I have both. Pi’erre Bourne lends a welcome lighter and tropical hand to the album on "Surf."
[quick ramble] The steel drum reminds me of being at a restaurant in the US Virgin Islands with my family. My mom hates steel drum, but that restaurant was a cool place. The service was really slow but that steel drum was a highlight. I didn’t surf on that trip, but the song “Surf” makes me feel like anything is possible. Gunna raps that he will “chop off your dick” at one point which contrasts with the vibrating tropical sounds, but thus is life, the fire coexists with the growing thunderstorm. Yin and yang. Chopped penis and steel drum.
The album is full of features, and as one would expect, some are awful and superfluous, and some are Good. My favorite features come from Gunna, Lil Duke, Travis Scott, and 21 Savage. 21 Savage delivers one of the most memorable lines on the album and made me remember my days at Eldorado K-8. [quick ramble] When I was in middle school in 2008-2010 everyone really liked hacky-sacking and I enjoyed my workman-like role as wide receiver on the flag football team. 21 Savage raps, “This ain't middle school, when you sucking on me, please include the balls (On God)” On God. I also really like Art Class in middle school. Lil Duke uses sort of a breathless delivery on “I Bought Her” and complements Young Thug well.
The worst feature on the album comes from Machine Gun Kelly. In service to the joint-tour MGK and Young Thug are undertaking, Atlantic Records added “Ecstasy” featuring MGK to the tracklist after the project had already been released. [ramble] Machine Gun Kelly raps that if he gets pulled over he expects the “you” to hide his cocaine in the theoretical partner’s “crack.” If this act of hiding drugs in the theoretical butt is the difference between having to listen to more MGK verses or MGK spending time in a facility without microphones and internet connection it would be advisable to subject MGK to law enforcement. Kenny Beats should lock him up in this theoretical situation.
Before moving to global concerns on album construction I would like to highlight a few lyrics and ad-libs. On “Hot” Thug releases a stream of ‘doo’s in rapid succession. Impressive vocal work. Great ad-lib. “I done told you watch this planet, ain't no sympathy now,” Thug raps on “Light it Up.” An important message for times in which many of Earth’s precious natural places are melting or actively on fire. The gentle bird sounds in the background on “What’s the Move” were another touching shoutout to the planet from which all of our material joy is derived. These moments of environmental awareness were not the central conceit of the album. Sex was certainly more central. In that vein, two moments stuck out to me. The first, “Shawty pussy so tight I had to finger her *** with a stick (Totally)” caught my attention. Also, “Abracadabra, tight pussy, need a toothpick.” Two off-kilter moments.
There is not a conscious construction of the album experience on So Much Fun. As we hear constantly in 2019, streaming numbers are what labels care about now. The more tracks, the better. The album’s transition from the 16th song “Circle of Bosses” to “Mannequin Challenge” is a painful clang. The energy is completely different. At this point, I was hoping the end would come soon. That I would be released from this behemoth. I doubted any new subjects or sonic concepts would be explored between this point in the album and Track 19. I felt like I was in a poorly put-together club where there were lots of plastic plants and a wall-sized mural of Martin Luther King Jr. riding a Bird Scooter.
However, I was pleasantly surprised when the May 11th single “London” began with Travis Scott’s low, ominous, distinct voice. Scott’s feature on the hook is strong and moody. He is a true master of the rap hook. J. Cole’s verse is forgettable and it almost seems like he is clowning whoever is paying him for this feature. This was a passable track and was not one of the throwaway tracks. The tracks that I consider unnecessary and forgettable were as follows: “Lil Baby,” “Sup Mate,” “Ecstacy,” and “Boy Back.”
Obama gets a shoutout on the album as well. Very respectful.
Overall, I spent too much time with this album and writing this review. I will not listen to this album again in its entirety. I will listen to Surf (feat. Gunna) again possibly and will maintain my respect for Young Thug and I anticipate more projects from him in the future.