Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Consumer Guide by Review Date: 2014-10-10


Future: Honest (Epic, 2014) Born pop-rap journeyman benefits mightily from genius help ("Benz Friends [Whatchutola]," "I Won") **

Migos: Young Rich Niggas (self-released download, 2013) If you go to all the trouble of cooking crack, you might as well get your chortle on about it ("Hanna Montana," "Versace," "Bakersman") ***

Young Thug: I Came From Nothing (self-released download, 2011) Cheerful zurped-up trap-rap deepens up if you listen up ("Rip," "Achieve") **

Young Thug: I Came From Nothing 2 (self-released download, 2011) Youngblood makes so many funny noises he can't convince me he's a "Neiman Marcus shopper"--which is a good thing ("#Twitter Song," "I Know") *

Young Thug: I Came From Nothing 3 (self-released download, 2012) The moralist in me scoffs at the rationalization that trap-rap "street" tropes are merely conventions--a song called "Molly Workin'" has to hook harder than this one to make me forget that molly generates more fellatio providers than normally occur in nature. But the hedonist in me won't deny that gangsters grok pop's Saturday night hustle in a way moralists cannot. The turning point on this freewheeling get-together is the "birthday bash" Thug announces midway through on "I'm Paid," after which tracks that were already coming thick and fast pick up speed as the party gets wilder and louder. One skittering synthbeat accelerates off another, "Angry Sex" straight on to "I Like What Ya Doin'." You want to know Jeffrey Williams's principles? How 'bout "No homo/We party though/We get gnarly though/We smoke dro/We fuck our hoes/We rock shows/That's what we here fo'"? "Time of Ya Life," that one's called, and given how much time he can count on, it should be. B+

Young Thug: 1017 Thug (self-released download, 2013) Midway in, the sonic breakout "Picachu" begins a five-out-of-six run interrupted only by a song from a Gucci Mane not yet put safely away--chorus fans may actually prefer the lubricious "Miss U" or the sanguinary "Trigger Finger" to "Picachu" itself. But don't let whatever noxious potion you're vicariously sipping cloud your judgment, because otherwise this is just a quality mixtape. However much you enjoy the bombed recipe for disaster "2 Cups Stuffed" or the stoned geography lesson "Nigeria," it's a road to no place special with a lot of signposts on it. B+

Young Thug, Birdman, Rich Homie Quan: Birdman Presents Rich Gang: The Tour (self-released download, 2014) New-gen big-tymers pledge thug love as they target that golden terlet in the charts ("730," "Milk Marie") *

Young Thug & Bloody Jay: Black Portland (self-released download, 2014) It's catchy. It's amoral. It's seductive. It's funny as shit. It's mixtape-era Lil Wayne sans, er, redeeming social value, by which I guess I mean wordplay. Over beats both spare and weird, greatest alien alive Thug trades japes with the lower-pitched and more consonant-friendly ATLien Jay: vile promises as regards sex, violence, and the joy of cooking, some brutally boilerplate and some scabrously imaginative, delivered with purple-derped, rosé-dazed, dizzed-out, carpet-soiling, carpet-chewing insouciance. It's so far beyond Thug's strangest full-lengths--although not works of genius like "Picachu" or "Angry Sex"--that I was tempted to credit it to Bloody Jay until I gave up on his Get It in Blood mixtape halfway through. True, Jay does deliver such indelible hooks as "I don't give no fucks" and "We bang we bang we bang," but musically these sound like Thug's even so. Jay does, however, embody the overarching theme: Bloods the gang rather than blood the squandered bodily fluid, the kind of Bloods who pronounce "cool" "bool" because hard C's are bursewords, or so Thug tells us. You should be glad you can't make out the lyrics. Bloods, Crips--most humans don't see much difference. A

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