Few would cite Atlanta rapper Young Thug’s lyrical ability as their favorite aspect of his music–and for good reason. Like a lot of MC’s in contemporary pop-rap , Thug’s lyrical content contains the usual tropes about sex, wealth, and excess over druggy trap instrumentals. However, it’s Thug’s charisma and impeccable ear for beats and melodies that turned listeners’ heads since his cult favorite 1017 Thug mixtape dropped in 2013. Since a lot of Thug’s lyrics are intelligible due to his slurred, erratic vocal delivery, they usually take a backseat to the production and Thug’s quirks, making his music easier to digest and his lyrics easier to dismiss.
In Slime Season 3, the third and final installment in the Atlanta MC’s Slime Season mixtape series and Thug’s second release this year, he offers more sugary vocal melodies, catchy flows, and hypnotic production that he has made a staple in his repertoire since 2015’s Barter 6.
Most of Thug’s albums run too long—and oftentimes the best moments are sandwiched between bland filler, making a lot of his projects a chore to listen to at full-length. However on SS3, Young Thug does a fine job of trimming the fat, dropping a 28-minute, 8-track record with little filler.
In this new installment, Thug recruits frequent collaborators like producer Mike WiLL Made It and London on Da Track to provide the soundscapes to this album, making the production the most compelling part of Slime Season 3. The rolling hi-hats, crisp snares, pulsating bass, and eerie synths are an appropriate backdrop to Thug’s off-the-wall, inebriated antics.
That’s not to say Young Thug himself isn’t impressive on this record. The track “Drippin” has Thug switching flows at the drop of a dime, even featuring a section where he barks, squawks, and scats half a verse before seamlessly transforming his vocals to a Drake-like flow and delivery.
Thug’s flow on this album is always in the pocket, rarely creeping into unorthodox rhythms, but still riding the beats with precision. Thugger’s percussive flows blend well with the hypnotic instrumentals as he effortlessly switches up his vocals at a moment’s notice.
On the album’s opener “With Them”, which first debuted at Kanye West’s Yeezy Season 3 event earlier this year, Thug reflects on his riches with lines like “Diamonds all black like I’m racist now,” and expresses his disdain for girls “who play more games than the NBA” over Mike WiLL Made It’s bouncy, playful production.
The album’s centerpiece “Digits”, one of SS3’s best tracks, features Thug reflecting on his mortality, using it as an excuse to continue indulging in his hedonistic lifestyle. Thug shows flashes of insight by crooning “You can lose your life but it gon’ keep goin’/Why not risk life when it’s gon’ keep goin’/When you die somebody else is born,” on the song’s pre-hook. The London On Da Track beat builds up with warm synth chords before the drums drop as Thug starts singing the song’s hook.
“Worth It” is another example of the excellent marriage between Thug’s vocals and the production he’s riding. The track, which originally dropped on Valentine’s Day earlier this year, is a love song to his fiance Jerrika Karlae. Thug flexes his singing chops, delivering syrupy melodies over an airy, ambient London on Da Track beat. Thug is at home when he takes this smooth, melodic approach to his music, delivering sentimental lines to his lover like “My mama say she ain’t perfect, but if this is how I’m feelin’, it’s gonna work.” Thugger is no master wordsmith, but its vulnerable moments like these that make his persona more likable, and are nice breaks from his usual subject matter.
Unlike all of Thugger’s projects, Slime Season 3 is mostly devoid of any features, with the exception of the track “Slime Shit”— the album’s obligatory posse cut. There’s nothing too impressive about this Ricky Racks produced track, but guests Yak Gotti, MPA Duke, and PeeWee Roscoe, come through with decent contributions even though their vocals are nearly indistinguishable from Thug’s.
The only skippable track on this album is “Tattoos” in which Thugger endlessly croons about one of his old lovers having visible tattoos and piercings. One of the only redeemable qualities of this song is London On Da Track’s instrumental, led by a gorgeous piano line. Thug’s contributions are mostly forgettable and the hook is too repetitive, with him singing “My bitch got tattoos and piercings” in a loop.
If you’re not already a fan of Young Thug, SS3 certainly isn’t going to make you a convert. It’s definitely an improvement on this year’s I’m Up mixtape, and it’s a satisfactory addition to Thug’s ever-growing discography. Other than one filler track and some redundancy, it’s impossible not to enjoy this, at least for a short time. Young Thug is no Nas or MF DOOM on the mic, but he’s one of the most enigmatic rappers performing in this style.