Whether you think Young Thug is the greatest ever or a total disgrace, there seems to be a general agreement that the words in his songs don’t matter – it’s all about the delivery. I can see how a listener might come to this conclusion on first listen; he does have the most exciting and interesting delivery of any rapper in recent memory. But it’s amazing how many people don’t notice that the great thing about Young Thug is not just that his voice and adlibs and timing are virtuoso-level, it’s that even when you dig through all this ornate embellishment he’s often saying some very compelling things. His imagery is vivid, his metaphors are complex, his references surprising. He doesn’t draw attention to any of these facets of his style but they’re there for those that put in the effort to search, and his music absolutely rewards this close listening.
I gave up trying to predict the course of Thug’s career long ago so I’m not going to hang my hat on the notion that this is a “new writerly direction” for him, but I think this is the most convincing argument for his lyricism yet. Typical to his style, you still have to dig a bit to find the beauty in the words, but isn’t that what art is for? To train us that beauty is everywhere if you can dig a little bit and look from the right perspective? The most noticeable lines in the song are about how much money he pays for his bodyguards, which in and of itself doesn’t have much emotive power behind it, but placed centrally in a song about his dedication to and the sacrifices he’s willing to take for his family this line transforms from confusing brag to touching revelation. Hopefully this can be the starting point for people who’ve written off Thug’s lyricism up until now. If you feel anything listening to this song, go back to the other ones that didn’t feel like much and see if there’s some lyrical substance you missed under the squawks and shouts.
Young Thug – Safe