Here is some unneeded context about ‘Barter 6’ that you’re going to read in next to every single review of this album. As you may have heard Young Thug’s manager Birdman isn’t on good terms with Lil Wayne after he decided to shelve his upcoming album ‘The Carter V’. Following Lil Wayne’s departure from Cash Money Records, tensions only grew higher and higher between the pair. Birdman was instead seemingly cashing in on his new protegé, Young Thug who is basically filling in the void that Lil Wayne is leaving. Through this, Young Thug was then dragged into the feud. This was made worse by the fact that Young Thug then called his upcoming album ‘The Carter 6’ basically killing Lil Wayne’s franchise of albums. Since then Thug has claimed that it was meant as a tribute to his idol and not to mock him, and has changed the title to ‘Barter 6’
I say this is unneeded context because it actually has nothing to do with the album itself whatsoever when you listen to it. Perhaps the only use it serves is that it brings Lil Wayne nicely into conversation so I can now compare the two rappers. Comparing Young Thug to Lil Wayne may seem like an extremely lazy way to describe the rapper but it has to be noted: Young Thug is essentially capturing the same fanbase that miss the days when Lil Wayne was at his experimental prime.
This isn’t to take anything away from Mr. Thug, over the course of his last few mixtapes he has certainly crafted a style that is instantly recognisable. His flow is rubbery and elastic, as are his vocal inflections, which he has precise control over knowing when and where to amp them up. He uses autotune and has a similar vocal inflection to his idol, Lil Wayne but he sounds a whole lot more animated. Throughout a song he will slyly switch up his flow multiple times with ease, with each one sounding more crazy than the last like on the track ‘With That’ or on the closing track on the album ‘Just Might Be’. He’s painting himself as a character who is outside of standard hip-hop. Yet even with all of this, Young Thug manages to sound extremely safe and generic on this album.
Young Thug is a prime example of someone who seems to be mastering the art of creating a delivery that is instantly memorable, yet he doesn’t have the song-writing abilities to match. Either that or he simply doesn’t care about the art of song-writing. When listening to every single modern-day trap-rapper, it’s evident that there is little-to-nothing that makes Young Thug stand out in terms of his actual songs. Drake’s last album ‘If You’re Reading This It’s Too Late’ did a better job on every single front in making a memorable trap inspired album and that’s not even his usual style.
Listening to this album the whole way through becomes more of a chore than an invitation into the crazy world that Young Thug wants us to believe he’s in musically. He spits lines so dramatically at times yet it’ll be about a girl sucking his dick like on the track ‘Dome’. It’s not satirical either – there aren’t any witty lines or even mildly humorous lines behind the braggadocio to entertain. The fact that the production has been made to be extremely brooding, airy and spacious only serves as a further reminder that Young Thug just jumps around between Hip-Hop cliches such as money, bitches and drugs in a really un-inventive way. His most witty line on the entire album is ‘I kill you dead and call it dedication’ – it’s not exactly ‘The Carter III’ worthy. At the end of this project we have no clue as to what sort of character Young Thug is or what his motivations are. His ad libs – which as people have pointed out are actually add ons to what he’s saying rather than random noises – become even more grating because it simply amplifies how inane his character is. If there was anyone else rapping over this production they would have killed it and they do when you get guest rappers like T.I. who absolutely kills it on the track ‘Can’t Tell’.
Perhaps the biggest fault of this album comes from the fact that through trying to make a moody and atmospheric album, Young Thug has completely neglected the art he’d mastered of creating an extremely memorable hook. Aside from the songs ‘Check’ and ‘With That’ this album is completely devoid of memorability melodically which would seriously help to enhance his crazy vocal inflections. Because as mentioned before, this album starts to grow extremely thin the more you listen to it. Much like Big Sean’s recent album, Thugger has no substance to go with his atmosphere. At least with this, Young Thug has something interesting delivery to hold onto, but digging deeper into this album past his ad libs and vocal inflections you’ll find a distinct like of originality and innovation.
Perhaps Young Thug would have actually benefited from talking about the many things that have been going on in his life rather than slight references to them. He addresses the rumours that he’s gay, the fact that he’s an icon on Instagram, the Lil Wayne feud and Mike Brown so vaguely that he might as well have not spoke about them at all. It doesn’t make his character mysterious or any more interesting, it simply makes him sound boring.
Young Thug remains one of the most interesting people to active in commercial Hip-Hop, but this really doesn’t reflect that. It shows him as quite the opposite.
Best Tracks: Can’t Tell, Check, With That