"1 Listen Album Reviews" have become an event here at DJBooth. We look forward to the exhausting exercise, trying to simultaneously capture our thoughts while hearing an album for the first time without stopping. It's the closest we'll ever get to playing a sport. Readers get only our gut reaction.
Young Thug’s Barter 6 is the closest we've gotten to a "real album" from Thug yet, and it's been assigned to me, and I’m afraid. He’s eccentric, unintelligible, the closest thing we've had to a rhyming Martian since…Lil Wayne.
Controversy follows Thug like a shadow, from pictures on Instagram, his choice of slang, naming the album after Wayne’s acclaimed Carter series, being naked on his album cover, and the list goes on. His every move incites dialogue.
The artist who mirrored his entire style and image after Lil Weezy went from Gucci Mane’s studio floor and has now been firmly snatched up by Birdman’s golden talons. For a kid who grew up wanting nothing more than to be a part of the Cash Money Empire, Thug is stuck between a dream and a nightmare. His idol rejects him while having the same mentor who raised his favorite rapper.
Deep down, I want to see him do a "Fly In Intro" and a "Fly Out Outro." Announce himself as the new “Birdman JR,” or Thugger F. Baby. Deliver an album that warrants the months of chatter. Go hard or go home.
Full disclosure: There’s a hole in my kitchen wall. Why? Drunken uproar. Ridiculous mayhem. Pandemonium. So while I'll do my best to follow our 1 Listen rules, once I press play I can't pause, rewind, or leave my keyboard—if I stop typing, it’s to assist the friend who is currently laying some fresh sheetrock.
1. "Constantly Hating" ft. Birdman
Birdman is on the first record, interesting. Thug really channels Wayne when he was at his most brilliantly inebriated. I like his slow flow, he sounds good across minimalistic production. It’s hilarious how Birdman has been rapping the same verse for the last five years. He has to be pushing 50 now, can we get a birth certificate? Thug seamlessly switches between rapping and singing, his style is so unorthodox. This intro isn’t bad, it’s definitely different from his more eccentric stuff. There is a hilarious growl when he calls himself a beast. Birdman is my favorite poet. Haikus on fleek.
2. "With That" ft. Duke
London on Da Track? High expectations. Thug is using the Migos signature flow, but he sounds like the originator. I’m loving the production, it’s syrupy and hazy, like being in a trap version of outer space. There’s an uncredited feature. Who is that? I guess it doesn’t matter. They all sound alike. This one starts to feel fairly forgettable by the end.
3. "Can’t Tell" ft. T.I. & Boosie Badazz
This one features T.I and Boosie, let’s go! This is a slapper. The energy is high and I’m enjoying T.I.'s guest features more than his latest album. He floated. Young Thug hooks are some of the oddest in the game. He’s purposely slurring, I can hear him drooling on the beat. Oh, he’s killing it now, I need to hear this again. It’s a mind fuck trying to understand what he’s saying. I love how he is completely reckless. Thug doesn’t care if things make sense, and at times it sounds amazing. Boosie is closing the record and delivering a solid performance. He’s come a long way. This one would get three stars on my iTunes.
Another London beat. I’m feeling this one more than "With That." A "money on my mind" line, perhaps, an homage to Tha Carter 2? Thugger is in his element. His style changes more than a Ditto. Entertaining, every verse is unpredictable. Will he rap? Will he sing? Will he drool? I can see why this was the single. It’s a really good record that displays Thugger’s better qualities. Hyperactive verses and a catchy hook. London is really churning out knockers.
5. "Never Had It" ft. Young Dolph
I should be more familiar with Young Dolph. Does he like dolphins? I hope he likes dolphins. Thugger’s signature moan just about guarantees the song will be fire emojis. It’s like his bat signal. A Randy Savage reference is enough to bring this one back. You get lost in Thug’s verses, partially because you spend the entire time trying to understand what he's saying. There’s a lot of passion in his voice. I rarely can tell the verses from the hook. It all runs together. Dolph pays his tides with drug money. What’s 10% of a brick? He’s floating something serious. This is a keeper. Yeah, this guy doesn’t like dolphins, gangsters aren’t into aquatic animals.
6. "Dream" ft. Yak Gotti
Thug is displaying his golden vocals. Adele can stay on hiatus. Another solid song thus far, but what’s a Yak Gotti? Yo Gotti’s nephew? Eh, not impressed by his addition. Not a fan of the hook, but Thug’s first verse was really solid. I can barely comprehend what he's saying but he’s been consistent. I’m still waiting to be amazed.
7. "Dome" ft. Duke
He’s howling to the moon. Duke sounds like a long lost Migo. Thug just used a Beyoncé reference to call himself a bumblebee. Just know I’m currently feeling a little drowsy, all the production has the same trap vibe. Can we get Thug some soul samples?
8. "Half Time"
He’s doing the mumbling rapping/crooning. He sounds like a cat drowning. I don’t even know how to define this crying noise. I need to rewind, can I make an exception? [Editor's Note: No.] No? Ok, I’ve composed myself. The second verse is pretty good, he’s doing some alien crooning. Is he phoning home? Communicating with his brothers? The third verse is hitting the pocket. He can actually rap, it’s the extra-ness that causes me to cringe. But that’s also what makes him Young Thug. I've spent this whole song both contemplating blowing my brains out and playing it again. Best kind of reaction.
9. "Amazing" ft. Jacquees
Another interesting crooning introduction. Unorthodox hook, but he shoots into the second verse like a missle. The energy makes up for needing a translator. He just burped on the record, a tactic I would expect from Eminem. This album should be played during happy hour.
10. "Knocked Off" ft. Birdman
This is Thug’s mafia music. Birdman makes his grand return. This is probably the most life Birdman has shown since Like Father, Like Son. Thug’s ad libs are hilarious.
Young Thug is talking about his drug problems? Nah, only for a moment. I wonder if he is really worried about overdosing. R.I.P Mike Brown? I see you, Thug. This is the only track where Thug seems conscious of his lyrics. Everything else is just a stream of randomness. Easily my favorite thus far. I wish he didn’t sing like a strangled moose. He’s in full-blown serenade mode. Someone tell my mom I’m not ignoring her phone calls. He lost some points for the struggling singing, but this is a solid joint
Nice piano keys to start. Thug wants us to know he's got ammo, noted. Future would be incredible on this beat, and that’s not a statement I make often. Could’ve done without this one.
13. "Just Might Be"
I made it to the end alive! This isn’t "Fly Out," but let’s see what happens. Thug said he’s happy, and he’s rapping with nice enthusiasm. This is a record I would rewind. Energy. He raps like a kid having a sugar rush. Weird voice effect in the middle of his second verse, but that’s to be expected with him.
Final (first listen) thoughts on Young Thug's Barter 6:
You know that feeling when you walk off a turbulent flight and you want to immediately kiss the ground? That’s how I feel after these reviews.
I enjoyed Barter 6 more than I expected to. The rapping isn’t a problem, but his singing and eccentric sounds leave me with Van Gogh thoughts. There were a few moments where I truly believed in his future in hip-hop. The same way Wayne bombarded the industry with his style, Thug could do the same. He has monstrous energy that will catch you off guard.
Young Thug is an acquired taste, with high pitched voice and unconventional style. I once compared Thug to a mystery box on Mario Kart—he’s absolutely random. Some songs he’s a banana peel and others he's a blue shell.
Young Thug isn’t Lil Wayne; he's the manifestation of Wayne’s influence on kids born after 1990. The same way Tyler, The Creator admired Pharrell more than JAY-Z or Nas, Thug looked up to The Hot Boys and Lil Wayne more than Biggie or 2Pac.
I don’t hear a hit quite like "Lifestyle," or a song that will have the impact of "Danny Glover," but Thug delivered a solid showing of his capabilities.
So, will the Barter 6 fill the void left by Tha Carter V? Will Young Thug replace Lil Wayne? Find out next time.
P.S.: I'm disappointed by the lack of Rich Homie Quan.
By Yoh, aka Increasingly Less Young Thug, aka @Yoh31