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Review: Young Thug’s ‘Slime Season 2’ is predictable but consistently dazzling

Slime Season 2 is the first Young Thug mixtape where it’s pretty easy to tell what’s on his mind. The Atlanta rapper’s style is still proudly idiosyncratic, but it’s familiar by now, and anyone who’s heard even just one other Thug release will be able to trace some of his flows and ad-libs back to earlier songs. This is not a groundbreaking release, and it doesn’t teach us much new about Thugger. But it’s an exemplary one, a few steps up from the scattershot first Slime Season.

The main difference is the raised emotional stakes. He talks in dark terms about his love life, his self-consciously unfeeling sex narrative on “Phoenix” evoking molly-era robo-Romeos like the Weeknd or Future. He dazzlingly empathizes with Lois Griffin on “Hey I” for putting up with Peter’s antics, much as his own girlfriend has to put up with his shit. He references his brother Bennie’s murder on two songs. He’s talked about the deaths in his family before, most notably on early cut “R.I.P.,” but he’s never laid his feelings so consistently bare over the length of an entire tape.

But that’s not what makes Slime Season 2 enjoyable. Rather, it’s Thug’s versatility. He’s one of mainstream rap’s most gifted vocalists, his cadences evoking dancehall and even rock ‘n’ roll. The way he shrieks the word “news” on “All Over” is almost reminiscent of Little Richard, but within a few seconds he’s adopted a Jamaican accent and said “bumboclaat” twice. Some of his utterances are so absurd as to be laughable (“trick or treats up my sleeeeve!” he screams on “She Notice Me.”) Don’t hold back the giggles; he’s having as much of a hoot as you are.

His lyrics are still only comprehensible about half the time, but that just makes his non-sequiturs stand out even more, like when he offers to park his “dog” in a girl’s “poo-putt” or compares his swagger to “your dad on a Friday.” Most lyricists try to hide deep meaning behind obtuse metaphors. Thugger does the reverse. These lyrics mean essentially nothing, but you still know exactly what he’s talking about.

It’s still never clear what Thug will do next at any given moment in a song, but some of his tricks are now recognizable. A lot of his choruses follow the same rhythmic structure. He uses his most reliable trick – ripping the Southern triplet flow pioneered by Migos and removing every third beat, giving his cadences a start-stop stagger – almost to death here. And though he gives us many weird new ad-libs, his strangled “scrrrrrrrrr” shows up often enough that it stops being scary and disarming after a while.

Slime Season 2 has just about everything Thug does well on it. It’s probably the best tape to play for a Thug newcomer, more so than Barter 6, his far more subtle and understated studio debut from this year. But those who’ve watched Thug’s style evolve and are still hoping for further development might have to hold off until his second retail album HiTunes (eventually) comes out. This is the first Thug release where he can be neatly pigeonholed, but he thankfully brings enough new tricks to the table to ease any fear that he might be stagnating.

Download Slime Season 2 for free here or listen to “Raw Might Just” below:


Daniel Bromfield

Daniel Bromfield