Release Date: Apr 16, 2015
Record label: 300 Entertainment
Young Thug is not into literalism. He thrives in gray areas, animated by the electricity generated by the tension of his own contradictions, and he never, ever offers a straightforward explanation. Look how he handled the most surreal rap beef of 2015 in a recent Instagram message to Lil Wayne. "This is my idol.
The first few seconds of Barter 6 have Young Thug cooly whispering a cursive remark to the beat: “Pull that shit up fool, it’s ours. ” It might not come as a surprise, especially since the central drama within mainstream hip-hop often involves the idea of ownership. The drama, as a creative force, seems to be perpetually ahead and behind the curve, as territories are discovered and/or squatted on amidst incessant bickering about cultural agency or material propriety.
There wasn’t a game that defined console first person shooter like GoldenEye:007 on Nintendo’s fifth generation N64. Nearly every release in the genre has found some form of direct influence from Rare’s innovative take on Pierce Brosnan’s first go at James Bond nearly 18 years later. However, ask anyone who was more into PC gaming and they’ll proclaim how long the genre flourished before GoldenEye hit the market.
Dubbed a "street release" and not his official debut album, Barter 6 was originally called Tha Carter VI until Lil Wayne voiced his disapproval, seeing as how the cocksure Young Thug saw himself as Weezy's heir apparent. Two of the highlights included here -- the weird "Constantly Hating" and "Knocked Off," which offers "We roll these bitches like they're centipedes" -- feature Lil Wayne's usual collaborator Birdman, but the biggest name to guest on Barter 6 is T. I.
To observe Young Thug is to entertain the misdirection of an enigmatic troll. Of course the launch of his debut album—and yes, it’s an album—would be defined by drama and missteps, so-called: first he calls the album Carter 6, then he renames the album when a third party (presumably Lil Wayne) claims copyright infringement, then he calls the album a mixtape and promises a true debut in August. With lackluster promo and two weeks’ notice of its release, Barter 6 is an anti-event.
At his best over the past two years — on one-off puffs of narcotized minimalism like "Stoner" and "Danny Glover" — this 23-year-old Atlanta trap star reveled in an unhinged musicality, his whoops, barks, yelps and rhymes communicating an aggrieved freedom. But here that's submerged beneath an endless slurry of syrupy tracks, as tales of murking, licking, smoking and spending spool out in an undifferentiated haze. Young Thug's cocaine is white like Justin Bieber, his diamonds are yellow like Funyuns, his cars are foreign and his clothes designer.
This is the year of the fauxtape. This trend means that once former SPIN Rappers of the Year like Danny Brown (XXX) and Chance the Rapper (Acid Rap) — as well as somebody named Kendrick Lamar (Section.80) — introduced their massive talents to the world on, ahem, “download-only albums” via lush, expensive productions (sometimes even including live musicians), rather than scratchy pirated beats. Whereas mixtapes graduated from being dry runs to promising albums, they quickly became the main event itself, and now a certain strain of them occupies arguably the wimpiest role of all: the toe-dipper.
The buildup to the latest mixtape from Young Thug was all controversy. Thugger’s already polarizing style spiked when he decided to push his orbit even closer to that of another big personality: Lil Wayne. The two had similarities — the lean-riddled slurs intermingling with singing, wacky ad-libs, and croaked rhymes — but Thug crossed a line in the Book of Weezy when he announced his tape would be called Carter 6, the next step after Wayne’s still-unreleased Carter V.
Hip-hop, as you presumably already know, is like a vacuum. I mean that not in the metaphorical sense of the word but in the literal. You know: you’ll get sucked in and never to be seen or heard from again. Just like a vacuum. That’s it. One day you’re in. And the next day, you’re out. You ….
"1 Listen Album Reviews" have become an event here at DJBooth. We look forward to the exhausting exercise, trying to simultaneously capture our thoughts while hearing an album for the first time without stopping is the closest we'll ever get to playing a sport. Readers get our gut reaction, a pure perspective. Young Thug’s Barter 6, the closest thing we've gotten to a "real album" from Thug yet, has been assigned to me, and I’m afraid.
Just as Young Thug's image plays a penchant for thrown-together flamboyance against hyper-macho hip-hop bravado, the Atlanta rapper's latest release plays the heartfelt off the ridiculous. He broke through with catchy singles Stoner, Danny Glover and Lifestyle, but Barter 6 eschews obvious hits for what feels like an attempt at crafting a cohesive work. The production, by Wheezy 5th and London on da Track, adds some dreamy levity to the otherwise familiar minimalism of the Atlanta strip-club sound.