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Review: Young Thug Inspires More Answers Than Questions on ‘Slime Season 3’

Young Thug
performs onstage during the PANDORA Discovery Den SXSW on March 18, 2016 in Austin, Texas.
SPIN Rating: 7 of 10
Release Date: March 24, 2016
Label: 300

Young Thug wasn’t always “indecipherable” — he was something lesser. His work as far back as 2011 originally cast him as a baby Lil Wayne: Thug’s voice was a dead ringer, and his songwriting took Wayne’s knack for laconic punchlines as the standard. Wayne imitators are a dime a dozen; how unfortunate it would’ve been if Young Thug didn’t evolve into the innovative quagmire that’s still one of music’s most compelling forces.

Although Thugger has been proving he’s a legitimate talent for at least three years, traditionalists have implied that giving in to his verbal pyrotechnics is a Faustian exchange, taking dazzle for substance. But he’s been proving for a while that his mercurial presence ain’t confetti; Slime Season 2 was notable in how some of its best moments were wrought with vulnerability. A central conflict of creating a sum from his different modes is how to distill an artist as multitudinous as Young Thug into a project. But two prime examples have been last year’s atmospheric Barter 6 and now Slime Season 3, the shortest of the series at a lean eight songs.

While Young Thug’s chameleonic flow-hopping is undoubtedly a defining trait, what makes his songs glow is how you never see the seams. Consider “Drippin’,” an arresting three minutes in which everything builds on top of itself. Belched threats and impromptu falsetto are wrapped in malice, non-sequitur one-liners slip in like common syntax (“Good shooter, I’m a good shooter/ And if I wanna see some titties I go eat at Hooters”), and it all coils upon transformative production that cements the hooks.

“Drippin’” ends the impeccable three-song stretch that starts SS3, begun by “With Them.” With its elastic bass and its streak of quotables (“I got some birds like I’m Julio”), the opener will be bodying clubs well into July. On “Memo” he’s a maestro of bacchanalia and sedition. Eventually, the aquatic “Slime S**t” hits a dry point when the guest verses roll through and “Tattoos” feels tad static, but neither distracts from SS3’s compelling sinew.

Although Young Thug moves away from exploring emotional pain, SS3 is still very much informed by introspection. “Worth It,” the emotional crux, is another song of devotion, but it’s transformed from a simple sentiment through its mastery of that intersection of writing and delivery, bringing off oddball curios such as “I only eat green like koala leaf.” A line like “I broke her heart, now my heart hurt” doesn’t work if Young Thug doesn’t strain his voice to contrast the song’s airiness. It’s moments like these where “indecipherable” sounds condescending. On Slime Season 3, he comes across clear.