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Young Thug’s ‘Slime Language 2’ Is A Breeding Ground For Underachievers And Cheap Homages - Album Review

There’s a tendency to make compilation tapes nothing more than opportunistic cash-grabs, a go-to for heavy-hitters to platform their inferior comrades. Young Thug’s label Young Stoner Life achieved this feat in 2018 with ‘Slime Language’. The second installment feasts off of Young Thug’s eccentric zeal in an infinity of cheap imitations and trite trap homages to an even worse degree. Truth be told, the room for success with ‘Slime Language 2’ was slim from the start. The very concept of Young Thug playing pied piper and parading his mindless mimics about for some overbearingly lengthy period of time was tiring. By some miracle, ‘Slime Language 2’ defies the odds by not being flat-out worse than its predecessor, even if it is a cluttered mess that fuels the samey-sounding trap that earns the genre a bad reputation.

It’s not all terrible. ‘Slime Language 2’ sets its sights higher than the original. Young Thug spreads his wings and phones in a few favours, extending the cohort beyond a hoard of high-profile Thug fanatics and faceless imitators. The result is the most memorable content between both of the label’s releases. ‘Diamonds Dancing’ boasts an uncharacteristically dynamic performance from Gunna who holds his own amidst the electrifying back and forth of Travis Scott and Young Thug, the trio works far better than it should. ‘Solid’ breathes life into Drake who’s buttery-smooth somberness wouldn’t feel out of place on the very best of ‘Take Care’. On ‘Moon Man’ the collective bend over backwards to appease Kid Cudi who adds a dimension of originality and emotion the record otherwise lacks. It’s the few overachievers that make the record a bearable listen.

Risk-taking results in the few instrumental highlights the record has to offer. On ‘Slime Language 2’ inconsistencies remain rife, but when the production is handled correctly Thug strikes gold. There’s a zany jubilance to ‘Came and Saw’ which feels like the audio equivalent of a circus with its loopy synths and vocal acrobatics. It’s the record’s boldest movement. The best scenarios, however, typically come about when tinkering with familiar formulas. The enthralling psychedelic synth passages on ‘Pots N Pans’ are reminiscent of the candy-cane aesthetics Lil Uzi Vert would adopt, only on crack. The monstrous room-rocking vibrations of ‘GFU’ and ‘That Go!’ wouldn’t feel at all foreign in the depths of Travis Scott’s most abrasive antics. It’s like a lottery, the likelihood of success is minimal but that glimmer of hope is enough to persuade you to push through the taxing audio sedative that is ‘Slime Language 2’.

Across a whopping 23 tracks, which somehow make the originals 15 look reasonable by comparison, the starry-eyed aspirations of ‘Slime Language 2’ get lost in a game of follow the leader. The opener, ‘Slatty’, is the giveaway, as blind disciples Gunna, Lil Duke, and Yak Gotti each take turns sporting their best Young Thug impression, ultimately blending into the one bad parody. The anthropomorphic strands of Young Thug’s DNA, Lil Keed and Gunna sound particularly stranded without someone more competent to guide them on ‘Came Out’. What hope does Young Thug have of building an empire when the best his admirers can do is drool at the idea of one day possessing artistry as unique as his?

When the building blocks of someone else’s hard work and artistic dedication are removed, the brigade of emerging talents enters panic mode, coughing up some of the worst ‘singing’, if you can call it that, I’ve heard all year. With listeners starved of any escape due to faint production choices, Lil Keed and T-Shyne run riot with creaking demeanours as the duo reach toxic levels of vocal plasticity on ‘Warriors’. All the most unbearable elements of ‘Slime Language 2’ make an appearance on the short and anything but sweet ‘Real’. Fickle acoustic balladry sets the tone for Unfoonk’s shallow ideas of romance and crime, his mutagenic mating calls like nails to a chalkboard. If it were any longer, I’m convinced it’d cause listener fatigue.

The room for error is immense when orchestrating a collaborative tape. Based on the outcome of ‘Slime Language’ Young Thug should know that better than anyone, yet even with past trauma lurking in the back of his mind he continues to sandwich blockbuster names together in the hopes of distracting listeners from the vapidness of the music. Future and Thug struggle for dominance on ‘Superstar’ with sloshing subpar refrains. On ‘Proud of You’ Lil Uzi Vert and Thug exchange hollow braggadocio, as if riches weren’t visited enough on the LP. ‘WokStar’ jams a pathetically short, albeit flashy performance from Skepta between layers of nothingness from Strick. The latter’s wobbling monotone vibrato is near-identical to ‘Issa Album’ era 21 Savage, without the grit. Just like any DJ Khaled album, it’s impossible to make sense of any given posse, whether it be due to vast stylistic differences or conflicting redundancies, the LP’s pick ‘n’ mix approach guns for commercial notoriety without remorse.

Young Thug and his camp of minions have proven that even on the very best of their individual material compelling lyricism has evaded them. Not that simplicity automatically disqualifies an artist from the genre’s apex, but with all their blindspots amalgamated on ‘Slime Language 2’, standards fly out the window and migraine-inducing hooks run wild. ‘Take It To Trial’ is the peak of faux-song writing. Boasting limp ideas of rebellion and tedious refrains, Thug, Gunna, and Yak Gotti (a familiar failed formula) fetishize stereotyped trap tropes whilst adding little to nothing. By contrast, ‘Como Te Llama’ is even less of a song. Imagine Tierra Whack but without the talent and a vicious stutter, HiDoraah struggles to get the bare basics right. This generation of rappers unfairly receives a lot of stick, and it’s songs like these that generate the generalised disdain.

On ‘Slime Language 2’ the wildly eccentric talents of Young Thug are downplayed in order to keep up with his cultist's sedated pace, his sacrifice turns to artifice. This is the least invested he’s sounded in years. When the captain’s already jumped ship his crew follows. It’s hardly Thug’s fault that the virality of his influence has cheapened the record, but the LP’s monotony, an interconnected system of Thuggism’s and cheap subspecies, speaks to the commodified nature of copying and pasting trends, a process the artist’s of tomorrow cling onto for notoriety. The unexpected pleasantries of ‘Slime Language 2’ certainly outweigh the general mediocrity of ‘Slime Language’, but when the label’s vision is the pinnacle of the quantity over quality business model far too many rap albums have adopted, I pray that this is the final installment.

Slime Language 2 - Young Stoner Life, Young Thug, Gunna - 3/10

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