ALBUM REVIEW: Young Thug Settles into His Throne on ‘So Much Fun’

Atlanta’s most ambitious iconoclast returns with a terrific record that plays to his many strengths.

For the entirety of his career, it feels like Young Thug’s been floating above this earth. Mercurial, audacious and impossible to pin down, Thugger’s existence is, in itself, a total and complete contradiction, from his fearless rebukes of gender binaries, to his adamant refusal to stick to a moniker (remember SEX, anyone?).

Of course, what’s most remarkable is the very contradiction his career has hinged on: how an outlier who refused to conform with traditional hip-hop at every step became a vanguard, remaking Atlanta rap in his image and still miles ahead of everyone, from proteges like Lil Baby and Gunna, to some of hip-hop’s biggest names, like Lil Uzi Vert and Travis Scott.

All of these rappers find themselves scattered into the track list of So Much Fun, as do Quavo, Future, 21 Savage and J. Cole. Yet, even with the star talent around him, it still feels momentous every time Young Thug hops on the mic. Not to knock the features, which range from good to great (save for MGK’s cut-and-paste verse on “Ecstasy”), but it’s always Thug, with his trademark absurdity in tow, who steals the show.

Speaking of absurdity, Thug’s on his quotable A-game here, and even if there’s nothing quite the caliber of “I nut on that fish,” there are some truly hysterical bars to be found. Threatening to “kidnap a kangaroo” on the opening track is comedy gold. Even funnier? This insult from “Jumped Out The Window”: “I been with your mummy ’cause your daddy a jabroni.”

These marvelous asides populate Thug’s finest, most consistent collection of songs since 2016’s JEFFREY. Lead single, “The London,” is terrific, with a sparse, oddly blissful beat and some commanding guest appearances from both J. Cole and Travis Scott. Wheezy’s beat on “Bad Bad Bad” is a behemoth, with the snares hitting firmly in pocket. “Big Tipper” features some of Thug’s hardest bars, and the synth riff it bursts into on the hook is terrific.

For an album that’s almost 20 tracks, it’s remarkable how few and far between the misses are. Even if the Gunna-featuring “Surf” gets a bit cloying, he more than makes up for it with his turn on the bombastic, triumphant “Hot.” The record may have one true misfire in the awkward “Pussy,” which could’ve benefited from a more compressed mix and some harder percussion.

Luckily, the next song erases any memory of it. The first thing you hear on “Circle of Bosses” is Wheezy’s producer tag, followed by a delightfully purdy guitar loop, one that seems to hang in negative space as the percussion clatters. Quavo’s autotuned crooning sounds right at home, but it’s Thug, warbling and cooing, who really makes the beat his.

Just like the record, the song is immediately alluring, all while unspooling more and more with each and every listen. Another perfect contradiction.

Score: 🐍🐍🐍🐍 / 5

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