AS A GRAND FINALE to his celebrated trilogy, Slime Season 3 is rather quaint. Eight songs that fail to reach 30 minutes, Young Thug’s latest release pales in comparison to Slime Season 1 and 2. It’s this brevity though that’ll allow anyone curious enough about hip-hop’s latest mystery man to seek out answers to the numerous questions they most certainly have. A large percentage of these weary seekers, myself included, knew of Thugger’s existence in Atlanta’s burgeoning music scene as the peculiarly devious trap rapper who stormed through the past couple years with a work ethic like no other. Taking strained vocals from Lil Wayne, forward-thinking style and cultural innovation from Andre 3000, and birthing a litany of imitators before he’s reached 25, Young Thug is surely set on a path to hip-hop superstardom. And yet, it wasn't until Jamie xx strikingly put his skittish boasting over a ‘70s soul sample on “Good Times” that those not in the know finally started to pay attention. Slime Season 3, while still with its flaws, is the perfect introduction to those wondering just where the hell popular hip-hop has come, gone, and will soon go in the snowballing south.
Slime Season 3 begins with “With Them”, the song previously known to masses as the newest banger blasting through Kanye West’s Life Of Pablo listening party and Yeezy Season 3 reveal. For the absolute chaos Kanye caused hip-hop communities that week, it was a testament to Thugger’s notoriety that the song, abruptly cut off by Ye through his laptop speakers, stirred up so much interest. In a week where Reddit’s HipHopHeads introduced a “No Kanye” filter due to the severity of Ye obsession, Thugger was still able to send fans into a fervor with just two minutes of music and a meme-worthy sleepy-eyed performance at Ye’s fashion show. So it’s fitting that “With Them” kicks this album off, along with the infamous opening line “she suck on that dick on the plane and I just called her airhead.” There’s no denying that the song itself is a bonafide banger, complete with reckoning bass, senseless but catchy bars, and an inverted ATL trap sound. You know, the Young Thug way. Much of SS3 attempts to reach this level of trap futurism, with the song itself acting as a potential bridge between Thugger trying and him accomplishing it effortlessly.
As I mentioned before, Slime Season 1 and 2, along with the bulk of his other releases, had a problem with resistance. It’s clear that the recent months of output meant Young Thug’s ambition wasn’t allowing him to send some of his works to the vault. Everything gets released. He has taken a quantity over quality approach, and it’s not like the eight tracks here or the nine on his February mixtape I’m Up signal a change. At the end of the day he’s released four mixtapes in seven months, a feat no one but Thug can claim. Slime Season 3 simply allows someone to listen to a singular project without being bogged down by length, the content is all the same. The content, by the way, the artist's biggest problem. Clearly no one goes to Thugger for eye-opening lyrics, they’re typically mundane and tired, but even the characteristics they do seek are all the same. His producers track the pulses of hip-hop, looking for what works and then repeat that eight times over, while the humorous bars and abnormal flows tend to seep to the center without much power to stand on their own.
His style, though, is unmistakably unique. You can hear his voice, and recognize it, from a mile away. The trap beats tend to sway, at its extremes, to an experimental side that redefines how addictive strange music can be. With the likes of Chance The Rapper, Lil Yachty, and members of the Flatbush Zombies on the rise, bizarre vocal performances, with the proper backdrop, are heightening mass appeal across the board. Hell, Rihanna’s “Work” and Beyonce’s “Formation” are topping the charts, both using serious vocal dexterity to their benefit. Much of this can be attributed to Lil Wayne, some of it though comes directly from Young Thug, and Slime Season 3, as expected, is no exception. The best part on the entire mixtape, bar none, comes midway through “Drippin’’, where Young Thug finishes off his hook by saying “I wrote verse it was 3 bars like an Adidas Stan Smith nigga.” Nothing special right? Well, then consider his drawn out yelp of “nigga,” which veers wildly off a cliff the moment he has a screaming realization. It’s erratic, charismatic, unpredictable, and haunting. The fact he does it twice in a three-minute song only adds its specialness.
I told myself going into this review that I’d try to talk about the music. I failed. Listeners make arguments that recently, not enough critics speak on behalf of the medium but rather focus on the grand scope. But when it comes to artists like Young Thug, you kinda have to. The differences between each Slime Season, on a song to song basis, are so slim that spending time discussing them would be fruitless. Truth be told, Thugger wouldn’t be a quarter as well known if it weren’t for his persona. Disregarding it would, in and of itself, lessen any discussion of the actual music. Overall, Slime Season 3 dabbles between varying levels of good, rarely going great. Out of the eight tracks, five are worth remembering. “Slime Shit” stumbles because of its guests, “Worth It” is the slow jam, autotune shoe-in that caused Lil Wayne’s career to sink, and “Tattoos” is the worst of Young Thug’s best qualities. Everything else sees the current ATL spearhead reach for the airwaves by deciding just how they should sound. B
Read more of Brian’s writing at his blog, Dozens of Donuts.