After over two years of anticipation and excitement, trap visionary Young Thug is finally back with his second studio album, Punk. Through 20 brand new tracks, the 30-year-old barrages listeners with his creativity and showmanship, but his unfiltered idea flow makes this LP one of the messiest in his elusive catalog. Just looking at the change in tone from the heart-wrenching intro track “Die Slow” to the carless banger of “Rich N***a Sh*t” with Juice WRLD only a few songs later, it’s clear the pacing of this album is all over the place. Despite how problematic the middle portion of this lp gets, the opening leg is excellent aside from possibly the worst J Cole performance ever on “Stressed.”
Moving away from the upbeat, in-your-face approach on 2019s So Much Fun, Thugger goes in a much softer direction as he pushes his melodic capabilities to heights we have never seen. While not fully committing to this style hurts the record, later on, moments such as “Recongnize Real” with Gunna and “Peepin Out The Window” with Future are some of the most emotionally intense tracks the Atlanta native has ever composed. Out of all the cuts displaying this level of excellence, “Stupid/Asking” is the definite standout between its passive yet commanding guitar riffs, transcending vocals, and a beat switch that encompasses all these qualities while also evolving the song with a thoughtful conclusion.
To the lp’s demise, the middle of the tracklist becomes an unpredictable storm that messes up its surrounding ideas. Songs like “Livin It Up” with Post Malone and A$AP Rocky rightfully depict what the opening leg and this super melodic side of Thug as a whole set out to achieve, yet moments following this up such as “Yea Yea Yea” undermine this sentiment by adding unnecessary ingredients to an otherwise promising formula. As mentioned earlier, Young Thug not fully committing to this melodic style plagues the project, which no moment embodies better than “Insure My Wrist.” From the lifeless vocals to the instrumental, which sounds like something Rod Wave would use on a B-Side project, the song’s only saving grace is a depleted verse from Gunna in the last minute and a half. While some songs sound like watered-down versions of what Thug set out to accomplish in the opening leg, tracks like “Scoliosis” with Lil Double 0 and the potential chart-topper of “Bubbly” with Drake and Travis Scott completely undermine its preluding moments, with a sound that clashes with the overall blissfulness and grace Punk characterize itself through.
Finding its footing back with songs like “Road Rage,” “Fifth Day Dead,” and “Dropping Jewels,” the album ends up saving itself with a conclusion that excels on everything set up in the intro. Cuts like “Faces” showcase the perfect middle-ground between the full-blown melodic Thug and the version of him we saw through the entire 2010s with his untimely flow yet slick and charming vocals. Integrating both his newfound melodic and his up-tempo traditional sides together, the generational star finally becomes able to embody Punk’s creative excellence while simultaneously salvaging its head-scratching sections. Apart from the rancid Doja Cat collaboration “Icy Hot,” the grand finale proves to be just even better than the opening, mainly due to its final three songs. In an unlikely moment of greatness, Nate Ruess and Jeff Bhasker team up with Thug and Gunna for the absolutely beautiful anthem “Love You More.” From Ruess’s hook to Thug’s articulate and weary vocals, this is easily one of the best tracks on the entire lp. Building on the momentum of this track, “Hate The Game” fuses elements of punk-rock into Thug’s traditional trap formula to make a cut that offers his flagship excitement with a nice touch of emotional vulnerability. Wrapping Punk up once and for all, “Day Before” teams Thug up with the late Mac Miller for a somber anthem that will make the toughest of listeners tear up between its themes paranoia and vulnerability. With the knowledge that the song was recorded the day before Mac passed away, Punk ends alluding to the ideas it opens up, focusing on.
Despite its bloated tracklist, lousy pacing, and overall messiness, Punk is still a good addition to Young Thug’s catalog as it doesn’t just expand his artistic arsenal but also opens up the door for a new era of sound for the Atlanta trapper. The album’s poor presentation definitely makes sitting through the entire hour’s worth of material frustrating, but its peak moments make the experience worth the time. Overall, Punk may not be the album of the year candidate many of us hoped for, but it is a major step for the future of Thug’s career and the trap genre as a whole.
- Love You More
- Day Before
- Die Slow
- Peepin Out The Window
- Rich N***a Sh*t
- Droppin Jewels
- Hate The Game
- Recognize Real
- Livin It Up
- Road Rage
- Fifth Day Dead
- Yea Yea Yea
- Insure My Wrist
- Icy Hot
- One of Young Thug’s most creative albums
- Emotional direction shows a new side of Thug
- Amazing vocal performance
- Thug pushes his creative boundaries to new heights
- Strong start and finish
- Tracklist is bloated
- Middle leg is an absolute mess
- Not fully committing to melodic style makes many tracks feel botched
- Hit or miss features
- Bad pacing
Written By: Mr. Fantastic