Young Thug’s often-imitated, never-duplicated mush-mouthed warble has become one of the most innovative and influential instrument to grace rap music in the last half-decade. Though Thug’s music has a track record of severe commercial underperformance, his stature in popular music has grown considerably in the last two years, as he’s burrowed into the industry’s pop apparatus with his guest verses on songs by Calvin Harris, Camila Cabello, Ed Sheeran, Post Malone, and Lil Nas X. “The London,” the lead single from his new full-length release So Much Fun, reached #12 on the Hot 100, making it the highest-charting single of his career. So Much Fun’s designation as Thug’s “debut album” is patently ridiculous, but it nevertheless carries a faint whiff of truth; the album feels like a hinge, a turning point, for better or worse, as Thug has finally garnered the mainstream acceptance and exposure to match his talent.
As it stands, So Much Fun, formerly known as GØŁDMØÜFDÖG, is the safest, least conceptual major release of Thug’s career. With each of his previous “retail mixtapes,” he expanded his oeuvre with some unforeseen gesture—the serenity and focus of Barter 6, the romantic undercurrent and zany animal impersonations of Jeffery, the pop-forward genre experiments of Beautiful Thugger Girls. So Much Fun presents no such bold new direction. “[There’s] not even a point to the songs,” he told No Jumper in an interview last month. “All of the songs are like fucking parade music. It ain’t no storylines to it. This shit is all about fun. If you’re not having fun or in a fun mood, don’t even play this album.”
In the absence of a narrative framework, So Much Fun gets by on Thug’s contagious playfulness and rubbery, endlessly malleable flow. The production, which offers an uneven survey of the contemporary trap landscape, doesn’t stop Thug from sounding as vital as ever, as the entire album is animated by an abiding sense that he might do something insane and magical at any given moment.
So Much Fun begins inauspiciously, with the snoozer “Just How It Is,” then quickly regains its footing on “Sup Mate,” an invigorating Thugger-Future duet wilder and more memorable than anything from their joint mixtape Super Slimey. They take turns rapping in an upright, faux-British manner and punctuating each phrase with “mate”; things devolve, and Future forgets how to talk halfway through the word “Columbine.” The following song, “Ecstasy,” features the most anthemic chorus on an album that isn’t particularly concerned with choruses. “Molly, Roxies / Oxy, contin / Jubilee, ostrich”—Thug calls out each word like he’s conducting a roll call. He takes off at a sprint in the second verse; he brags, “I told the judge, ‘Mothafuck a subpoena/You know I been sippin’ on mud.’” So Much Fun sets up handful of showdowns between Thug and law enforcement, whether it be a foot chase through the projects or Thug fleeing police “in a goddamn Rolls.” Each time, it feels like Road Runner vs. Wile E. Coyote; Thug is destined to prevail, with style.
Across So Much Fun, Thug often blurs the line between flex and self-own. On “Bad Bad Bad,” he invokes his non-appearance at his own “Wyclef Jean” music video shoot. “Pull up in a truck, any season/ Niggas never coming out, then we leaving/ How could a nigga take a loss if he leaving?” he reasons. His penchant for absurdism becomes its own kind of flex and plays out on multiple levels. He sequences a song featuring Lil Baby immediately before a song called “Lil Baby” that has nothing to do with Lil Baby, but includes shoutouts to ten of Thug’s other rapper friends à la Jay Z’s drunken “Mac Miller nice too though” Twitter thread. The instinct to troll filters down to Thug’s ad-libs (“Totally, dude!”), weirder vocal textures (rapping an entire verse in his Cookie Monster voice on “Cartier Gucci Scarf”), and sense of propriety (“I told ’em to chop off your penis, you keeping your head”). At this point, Thug should be acknowledged as the 21st century’s greatest practitioner of Dadaism this side of Dril. Both are breathtakingly inscrutable provocateurs who bend the world to their own profoundly warped sense of logic.
Of course, none of this stuff is remotely new for Young Thug, So Much Fun doesn’t mark a step forward for his aesthetic, but rather an attempt to refine it. There is no sense that Thug’s label interfered with his vision for his “debut album,” which is defined in part by a looseness, if not experimentalism, that harks back to 1017 Thug and Thug’s other early mixtapes. While the title “So Much Fun” initially scans as another mischievous, winking, dumb Thugger-ism, it in fact doubles as an earnest, accurate description of its contents.