Album Review: Young Thug – Barter 6

Young-Thug-Barter-6-560x560What the artwork of ‘Barter 6’ is supposed to represent is not quite clear. It features a naked, blonde-haired Young Thug with several gold chains around his neck, the title covering his genitals. This, however, does not mean we get to hear a stripped down, emotional Young Thug.

Moreover, while the project is intended as a tribute to Lil Wayne (Young Thug’s idol growing up), the artwork is not. Lil Wayne even distanced himself from it, stating publically: “Stop listening to songs of n***** who pose naked on their motherfucking album covers”. Perhaps the album art, and the particular placement of the album title, are reflective of the now ambivalent relationship Thug has with his once favourite rapper. After all, the mixtape was originally intended to be a spiritual continuation of Lil Wayne’s ‘Carter’ series, with the title ‘Carter 6’. It was, though, quickly renamed after threats of legal action.

One thing is clear: if any rapper were to pose naked on an album cover in 2015, it would be Young Thug. Since his career started in 2011, he’s been one of the most colourful and daring rappers in the game. He has become known for his varied, often high-pitched flows, seasoning his tracks with some outlandish ad-libs. On ‘Barter 6’ he continues in this now familiar style and the result is… decent.

If any rapper were to pose naked on an album cover in 2015, it would be Young Thug.

Young Thug and his mentor Birdman begin with ‘Constantly Hating’. The rapper always seems to shine a little bit brighter when accompanied by solid features. They appear more grounded, providing a contrast to Thug’s often airy and eccentric presence. Thug himself comes off super suave on this track, constantly varying his flow effortlessly. Technically, he’s an extremely versatile rapper, and makes sure to display this on ‘Barter 6’.

The second track of the album, ‘With That’, is a textbook example of Young Thug’s sound working to perfection. From the catchy trap instrumental to the infectious repetitions on the chorus (“Hunnid Bands, Hunnid Bands”), this MPA Duke-featuring track is bound to get stuck in your head. When the beat, the chorus, and the feature all deliver, Young Thug doesn’t even have to make sense.

As previously mentioned, features usually enhance Young Thug’s tracks. While this is definitely the case on the third track ‘Can’t Tell’, the guests outshine Thug to some extent. T.I. is on fire on this track; starting out in a Migos-esque stutter, before transitioning into his trademark smooth, southern flow. Thug delivers the chorus in his best Lil Wayne flow, throwing shots at his idol’s ‘Dedication’ series: “Pussy Boy I’ll leave you dead and call it Dead-ication”. The chorus is entertaining enough, though Thug’s own verse is a mindless rant; coupled with his high-pitched flow it can give you a headache.

On ‘Check’, Young Thug returns to form. The first track which Young Thug holds down on his own, he certainly rises to the occasion. It’s an all-round great track, with a catchy chorus (“Got me a check, I got a check”), Thugger once again shows off the depth of his flow repertoire.

Young Thug is constantly balancing on a line between the exciting and the annoying.

Unfortunately, ‘Barter 6’ hits a slump after these first four tracks. Its middle part is less exciting, as one or more of the pillars which Thug’s success rests on (beats, features, and catchy choruses) are either missing or disappointing. Thankfully, the mixtape breaks out of this slump towards the backend with tracks like ‘Knocked Off’, and ‘OD’.

Thug rarely sticks to a theme. There is usually an overarching concept to a song – for instance, on the track ‘OD’, where he addresses his drug issues. However, the extent to which he sticks to a concept throughout a track varies greatly. Most often, he only returns to it on the chorus, while the verses are completely random. The lyrical content mostly revolves around generic themes of trap, drug abuse, and sex.

The only cohesive element on this project is its strange lacking of one; flows, lyrics and ad libs are all random and feel arbitrary. Young Thug is constantly balancing on a line between the exciting and the annoying. Essentially this comes to down to whether the product is catchy or not. Luckily, he manages to stay on the right side of this line for most of ‘Barter 6’, making it an enjoyable listening experience.


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