Young Thug's new album, Punk, opens softly and strangely. The acoustic, drumless "Die Slow" was recorded in a Venice hotel room two years ago; before Thug starts rapping in earnest, he notes people "riding past on boats" through the canals below. He goes on, in that ad-libbed intro, to wobble back and forth between pride and shame, reporting that he only consumed one pint of lean on his most recent tour, but that tour kept him from attending his son's birthday.
While Young Thug has made some of his most interesting music in recent years for Punk, interesting does not always mean great. The relaxed tone he takes on the project is better when used sparingly like "Just How It" on So Much Fun or "Killed Before on Super Slimey. Punk attempts to expand this type of sound over a whole album. while there are songs that show his spark is still present, it's just not the type of quality we expect from someone like Thug.
Young Thug's ascent to hip-hop upper echelons was complete long before his new album. Yet 'PUNK' truly sets the tone for his largesse - the 20 strong tracklisting, the week-long Complex global takeover, the pre-release Lyft exclusive, ending with Young Thug and Gunna systematically destroying a car with a pair of sledgehammers. Curiously, though, it's a much more subtle beast that the pre-roll would suggest.