While some deeply misplaced Outkast comparisons and overly hyperbolic Rap Twitter praise may have soured some on Earthgang, a Young Thug feature — in this case on the duo’s “Proud Of U” — is always enough to make me relent.
Thug is experiencing a long-awaited commercial boom thanks to the success of the recently released So Much Fun. The album debuted at Number One on the RS Album Charts and the Billboard 200, becoming the YSL rapper’s highest-charting album to date. But for all its bangers, So Much Fun is a project that tends to shave off Thug’s wildest creative edges — the monstrous voices, insane ad-libs, and borderless rhyme schemes — in pursuit of streaming dominance. “So Much Fun is like nothing to be thought about,” he told Rolling Stone in August. “It’s only for fun purposes. The name of the album is directly what it means. There’s no static to it. It’s just so much fun. I don’t even want you to think when you listen to this even if I’m saying a metaphorical bars or anything.”
On “Proud Of U,” a glimmer of Thug’s more unpredictable side emerges. The honed delivery and sonic homogeneity of So Much Fun is momentarily gone. Melodies crash against melodies. Flows are abandoned, re-found, deconstructed, and built back up again. Only about half of Thug’s mush-mouthed delivery is comprehensible. The punchlines are both subtle (“Help you get your body fixed, conspiracy) and senseless (“Even though my cake up, I got cadence and real nice teeth”). In short, it’s a microcosm of everything that made Thug one of the most exciting musicians of the decade.