I wasn’t a fan of Young Thug’s Beautiful Thugger Girls. Part of it was strictly packaging – the album cover gave me flashbacks to Wayne’s Rebirth. Every time I try to revisit it, I feel my patience reaching dangerously low levels by “Do U Love Me” and I entirely dissociate from my body on “Relationship” and I have to start over.
I just don’t think Thug’s ballad-ish songs are…good. When Thug tackles really poppy instrumentals, his vast range is limited. He has such a knack for eccentric voices and cadences that he can sound cartoonish when he uses them on instrumentals that are similarly cheesy. He’s just more interesting when he subverts trap beats than when he does a full-blown Rihanna impersonation. It’s why Slime Season 3 is better than JEFFERY.
But he’s in his element on Young Martha. His co-headliner, Carnage, does a good job of supplying Thug with the brash and gothic beats he thrives on. The EP is short, but Thug sounds like ten different people over the four songs, mixing flows, pitches, and tones effortlessly. The growl he uses to deliver the chorus of “Homie” and the pinched-cord squeakiness he uses on the chorus of “Liger” are wildly different enough to forgive anyone who’s never listened to a Thug album for thinking they’re not the same artist.
If you have listened to a Thug album before, you already know what this is. It’s good! But the familiar trappings are here. The aforementioned vocal ranginess. Lines that might be too explicit for reprinting or might just be nonsense (“I put these pebbles in the meat and knock the taco off”). An incredible ability to find the weirdest flow that still goes extremely hard (“Bitch, I promise / Swear to God / On my mom / On my daughters / On my son / On my mothafuckin’ gun / If I’m lyin’ / Make it jam / While I’m tryna fuckin’ blam”).
Beyond the boilerplate material for a Thug reviewl, I feel like there are two aspects of Martha that stand out. First, for a four-song EP, it’s a little disappointing that the whole thing isn’t tighter. “10000 Smiles” is the only point on the EP where it feels like things are really dragging, but on Martha one song is still a quarter of the material. The hook is the weakest on Martha, the verses are flat, the outro bridge is basically a voice memo, and Carnage is asleep at the wheel on the production.
The second aspect of note is that “Don’t Call Me” is the most interesting track on the EP, but Thug is essentially rendered a feature. It’s a turn that resembles his feature on the Jamie XX collab “I Know There’s Gonna Be (Good Times)” and makes me wonder if Thug will ever show up with the laser focus he brings to his features and apply it consistently across one of his own releases.
“Don’t Call Me” is the only time on the EP that Carnage seems to be pushing Thug out of free-range mixtape mode and into fill-in-the-gap feature mode. As British singer Shakka handles the first half of the song and the choruses, Thug is left to find a complementary role to play, and per usual, he does so well. The guy has so much creative energy it’s almost refreshing at times to hear a collaborator rein him in and focus that energy.
So while it seems like Thug’s output may be impeded for the foreseeable future by the guardians of marijuana and tinted windows, I would love for Thug and Carnage to run it back for a second take. Save for the one dud, Martha’s low point is “good”. With a little camaraderie already established, it’s easy to imagine Martha 2 being something really special. Even if this ends up being a one-time partnership, I’ll take two good Thug singles and one good Thug feature any day of the week.
Highlights: “Homie”, “Liger”, “Don’t Call Me”