Young Thug Credit: Courtesy Enjoy the show

A couple months before he dropped June’s Beautiful Thugger Girls (300/Atlantic), Young Thug tweeted it would be his “singing album.” But to expect Thug would follow any traditional concept of singing would be to ignore his track record of eschewing what had been generally accepted as rap’s norms. As he rose to fame he didn’t just blur rapping and singing, he rearranged words at their molecular level to render even the most rote turns of phrase alive, for example, slowly wringing the words “play with my money” on “Wyclef Jean” off last year’s Jeffery. All of which is to say that Thug’s singing on Beautiful Thugger Girls sounds a lot like his rapping, which, even in this era of rappers singing like rock stars (Lil Uzi Vert, Post Malone, and Lil Peep, to name a few), still sounds like no one else. His voice has so much grit and grain to it that he brings new textures to familiar words—it’s got husk and heft, but doesn’t hold him back from sprinting through clusters of vowels easily. The instrumental touchstones here skew towards genres where singing is de rigueur, including R&B, dancehall, and pop rock. The acoustic R&B guitar melody on “Family Don’t Matter” and dancehall riddim on “Do U Love Me” cast Thug’s vocals in a new light—the musical contexts are subtle changes from his regular fare, but Thug knows how to wrangle emotion out of even the slightest differences. Beautiful Thugger Girls and his recent joint EP with EDM-survivor Carnage, Young Martha (YSL/300), offer the same old Young Thug, which is also to say there’s always something new to hear from him.   v