Young Thug: I’m Up

While I'm Up might be low on clear highs, it certainly doesn't have many low points. Young Thug releases what might be his most consistent effort to date.
Young Thug
I'm Up
300 Entertainment / Atlantic

I’m Up clocks in at just over 35 minutes, which might seem short, but Young Thug uses his time wisely, finding a way to fit just about any topic known to man into his work. Take opener “F Cancer”, for instance. The song addresses the disease in the first line as a “shout out to Boosie” and subsequently moves into rapping about strippers, whipping in the kitchen, smoking cookie dough, and bath time, among other topics. This is just in the course of four minutes. Young Thug can do this all day long (and does), which can largely be attributed to his stream of consciousness technique, making each song feel like a nonstop freestyle running through Thug’s head. It makes for a fun listen, and it sounds like he’s having fun as well considering seven out of the nine songs are collaborations.

Lyrical diversity isn’t the only thing I’m Up excels at. Thug may not have brought in any vocalists to sing choruses, but his Auto-tuned speak-singing technique varies the sections nicely, not to mention just being plain catchy. Guest verses add a lot to diversity as well, and Young Thug brings an impressive roster to fill them (although fans of the excellent “Danny Glover” remix have to wonder where the Nicki Minaj collaboration is). He may not be bringing in Drake or Kanye (especially not in “Family” where he features his own sisters), but it’s almost more endearing that way. Songs like “My Boys” which features humorously cheesy verses on crew appreciation/loyalty would be especially less effective with A-listers (namely ego incarnate, Kanye). Alternatively, Young Thug’s exaggerated pronunciations and voices can make it sound like he’s having an effective duet with himself.

These quirky qualities are pretty indicative of the atmosphere set on I’m Up. Many tracks feature fun if not downright silly lyrics. Thug builds himself up in the catchy hook of “Special”, until a girl breaks it all down by erasing him “with a pencil”. The heavily Auto-tuned “Bread Winners” calls Young Butta into the mix because “they got lots of bread”. These kind of lines are plentiful throughout. It’s not all fun and games on I’m Up though.

“Family”, featuring Thug’s sisters Dora and Dolly, shows a different side of him. Dora and Dolly seem to share Thug’s odd pronunciation style, but more than that, we see Thug as a family member instead of purely as a self-congratulating rapper. He’s part of something greater than himself. After all, he says, “only thing more important than money is family” and after multiple mentions of how many hundreds he has in his wallet, it seems like it really means something to him. He also drops some important commentary in the song by saying “they want to see these bloods like they cuttin’ me.” It’s probably the most reflective moment here where you’ll most likely be wondering what in the world you just heard other than analyzing phrases for deeper meaning.

Previous cut “King TROUP” seems to be an ode to jailed Lil Roscoe and murdered Keith Troup, (okay, at least when he’s not bragging about banging twins) containing lines like “They could’ve freed him cause he grew up with no dad / Instead they took advantage and did him badly.” That’s pretty representative to how Young Thug makes a statement though. Serious moments are nestled between the typical rapping concepts, aka money, power, sex, notoriety, etc. By the time you start paying attention to the more serious side of his songs, the track has already won you over.

All of Thug’s songs do really well with this too.They’re all super accessible and as a whole consistently solid. No track stands out as being considerably worse than another. Alternatively, there aren’t a lot of highs, but that can easily be overlooked due to the strength of the holistic work. And even though you might think all of the differing collaboration partners and styles on the mixtape might work to overthrow this continuity, what’s gluing the work together is a whole lot of Young Thug. Given that he’s one of the most unique players in hip hop right now, no doubt it’s enough.

RATING 8 / 10