I can’t really say I was excited for this record.
On one hand, the premise of more Young Thug music is something to celebrate, especially given the fantastic 2019 he had. Unfortunately, every bit of enthusiasm that could have been drummed up for this surprise collaborative project feels latched to the other guy, who just so happens to be Chris Brown.
If only Chris Brown was merely some bland, uninspiring figure; maybe this album would have stood a chance. But Chris Brown isn’t just some bland, uninspiring figure. Tragically, Chris Brown is, well, Chris Brown. Someone who has spent his entire 15-year career practically shooting himself in the foot, over and over again. And that’s not just mentioning the fact that Brown is a documented domestic abuser, homophobe and an all–around piece of shit. Brown entered the R&B scene as someone gifted with Michael Jackson-level vocal and performance range, which makes it even worse that he hasn’t managed to scrounge up even a single decent sounding album yet.
With his new joint mixtape with Young Thug, the streak continues, unbroken in spite of Thugger’s best efforts. Even with his well-earned reputation as a scene-stealer, Thug is an artist who’s marvelous at drawing out the best out of his collaborators. On records like Tha Tour Pt. 1 as part of Rich Gang, and to a lesser extent his 2017 collaboration with Future, Super Slimey, his magnetism on the mic has proved a remarkable foil for his collaborators to find a pocket in.
On Slime & B, it feels like Thug’s doing all the heavy lifting. Listening to “Big Slimes”—far and away the best song here—it’s jarring to hear how different the song sounds when Thug bows out and lets Brown handle the second verse by himself. The difference is immediate: Thug’s rough-edged croon is perfect for the song’s shit-talking attitude, but Brown’s sickly-sweet vocal frills just sound awkward. Brown’s presence here is almost non-existent as Thug and his YSL bandmates bounce around the beat.
The album’s central weakness is how little it utilizes Thug, and it just feels exposed on “Big Slimes.” Slime & B feels far more centered on the B part, which is deeply unfortunate. In relegating Thug to a supporting role, it banks on the ability of Chris Brown to carry an album or provide a sense of direction, two things that Brown has time and time again proven that he’s not capable of. Despite a shorter runtime than his past two albums (both over two ungodly hours long), Brown’s contributions are, somehow, still stuffed with filler and completely devoid of substance.
On the absolute bore of a song that is “Trap Back,” Brown sounds woefully out of step with the plodding beat, and it makes for a borderline incoherent listen. The title of “I Ain’t Tryin” is a really good indication of the effort he’s putting in, and the song’s weird balance between dancehall rhythm and earnest crooning doesn’t do anything to help.
On the requisite sex jam, “City Girls,” Brown sounds downright awkward; his saccharine vocals hollow and passionless. And worst of all, there’s “Undrunk,” where he joins forces with Too $hort and E-40 (it seems Young Thug wisely chose to avoid this track). About this unholy trinity, I will only say this: Brown refers to a woman as a “hickory-dickory-thot,” and it is exactly as painful as it sounds.
As is the case with most of Brown’s adult career, on Slime & B his worst enemy is himself. In spite of Thug’s often enjoyable contributions to the tape, it is Brown’s magnificent gift for failure that ends up pulling through in the end. For those who still need that Young Thug fix? Just save yourself the trouble. Go listen to So Much Fun again, or something. Anything but this.
Score: 🐍.5 / 5