Transformation is a change that happens slow and gradually. Hitting the gym one time won’t make you a man of muscle, you won’t be bending your body into a pretzel after one yoga class, and your vocal cords won’t magically become angelic after one singing lesson. Unless your methods for change are the usage of drug enchantment or plastic surgery, change comes slow.
Over the past year, Young Thug has undergone very small, and subtle changes. First his appearance; he no longer has the top and bottom gold grill, but pearly white veneers shine every time he smiles. There’s also no longer a septum piercing hanging from his nose. The mustard color dreads are now a midnight black, and appear far more tame than before. His attire is completely of a higher fashion now, a tremendous leap forward for a rapper who wore a Hooters’ tank-top in a music video. Based on his new style, he has a similar taste in fashion as Future. Quietly, Young Thug cleaned up his image.
If you look at his Instagram there’s barely any trace of the old Thugger Thugger. He’s a new man, one that isn’t posting videos of guns, or showcasing cups of lean and bowls of weed, but a rapper focusing on showcasing his new life of luxury. I saw this change coming the moment news and photos began to spread that Young Thug was in the studio with Elton John. It became clear that Lyor Cohen had a vision on how to take the “Thug” out of “Young Thug.” Nothing says “targeting middle America” like a rap remix to Rocket Man and a Calvin Klein billboard. From rags to riches, the transformation of Young Thug was only missing one thing - a name change. Lyor made a recent appearance on Rap Radar’s podcast and announced that Young Thug would be changing his name to: No, My Name Is Jeffery.
Young Thug changing his stage name puts him in the long linage of artists who have done the same. Anderson .Paak, who was formally Breezy Lovejoy, is one that comes to mind. Bow Wow made an attempt to go by Shad Moss, but that was a complete failure (and now he’s retired). Killer Mike made a half-hearted attempt to change his moniker to Mike Bigga, but he also didn’t find success. Some names are too ingrained, it becomes apart of who the artist is.
Young Thug’s name change is a bit deeper since he has undergone other changes as well. No, My Name Is Jeffery feels cartoonish, like the title for a Disney Channel series, and not the new moniker for the artist formerly known as Young Thug. I expect people to shorten the name to just Jeffery, but only time will tell if Young Thug goes through with it and if he can successfully move away from his former alias.
Thug has yet to comment on Lyor’s name change announcement, but with a new project entitled Jeffery coming soon now presents the perfect time for the rebrand. The biggest question, however, is will his music change? All the music Thug has released this year has been in the realm of his hyperactive, unpredictable style. With a cleaner image, could the next wave of music coming from Jeffery also receive a new touch of gloss? If he’s serious about getting the GRAMMY’s and other astounding accolades, he has to escape just making music for his fairly large but not massive niche crowd. I thought Elton John and Young Thug was a bizarre combination, but Elton John and No My Name Is Jeffery could very well be more amazing than a man walking on the moon.
Lyor isn’t new to artist development. He isn’t investing time and money molding Young Thug to be a rapper in-between the underground and the mainstream. To make Thug a star, he had to make changes. Changes that will help him get endorsements and sponsorships, adjustments that allow him to walk into business meetings and appear as a rapper about his business - most importantly Thug is now ready to be embraced by a demographic that could find his previous image too edgy and street. It’s sad how an image that has nothing to do with music can dictate your appeal. All the changes seem to be apart of a bigger plan to increase his mass appeal.
If there was a glass ceiling that put Thug’s career at risk based on his look and name, that ceiling is on the brink of shattering. If they remove his facial tattoos I’ll be the first theorist to write a clone conspiracy.
Until his latest music is heard I’ll hold off on my judgments, but it’s become apparent that while Young Thug went far, the label believes Jeffery can go further.
By Yoh, aka Yes, My Name Is Yoh aka @Yoh31
Photo Credit: Instagram