In hip-hop, your influences are almost like your gods. They are the foundations of what came before you, and the reason that you can flourish in the industry today. Young Thug pays homage to his idols in his new mixtape, JEFFERY. Most tracks are named after someone he has idolized, making the album feel like a dedication record.
JEFFERY sees Young Thug tackling some of his most diverse work. All tracks (barring the conclusion track) is named after someone he has idolized or worked with: the album begins on 'Wyclef Jean', dedicated to the Haitian rapper (who actually has a feature later on the record), and channels Wyclef's reggae roots. The track is fun and features a lot of Caribbean elements. Wyclef Jean features later on the record on the album in 'Kanye West' (previously titled 'Elton John', 'Wet Wet', and 'Pop Man'), which feels like more of a glorified Kanye track than anything else. 'Guwop' praises the roots of trap music - another track shouting out the originator of a genre - being a praise of fellow rapper Gucci Mane. The track is a pretty chill one, if not a bit silly.
Young Thug sends some love to some of his peers, too. Despite his past beef with him, 'Future Swag' is dedicated to the man himself, Future. Despite how sick I am of Future being literally everywhere this year, this does sound like one of his better tracks. 'RiRi' is a nod to Rihanna, and is just about as annoying as 'Work' is - Thugga literally sounds like a seal throughout this track. A nod to producer Swizz Beats is found in the track named after him, but the track sees Young Thug singing and it just doesn't fit too well.
How could this album be complete without memes? There are a couple of songs dedicated to pop culture references, the first of which is 'Floyd Mayweather', the boxer who rose to fame in a major match earlier this year. It's hard to tell if this track is a slam at him or a celebration of him - the boxer is known to have been in cohorts with Young Thug in the past, almost signing to his record label. He didn't in the end, and the song is all about the living a life in luxury. Of course, the album has a shoutout to the current meme phenomenon 'Harambe', and while the title is relevant, the song doesn't really say much about the controversy of him in any form (gun control, animal rights, etc.) and is nearly downright annoying with all of the ad libs and raspy, yelled vocals. The instrumental is phenomenal, though.
There are some great instrumental moments on the record. 'Webbie' has a very dramatic and almost pretty soundscape, taking turns between pulsating synths and a ringing beat and a refined beat behind sweet piano. The final track 'Pick Up The Phone' with Quavo has the best relationship of instrumental and vocals on the record. The song is credited as being a collaboration between both Thugga and Travi$ Scott (he basically just does the ad libs - he has a verse on 'Floyd Mayweather' that will satisfy his fans more). The vocals and instrumental flow as a pair; the track has a punchy and almost aqueous synth that compliments the vocals almost perfectly. It becomes a grander, richer synth that follows a dark progression to end out the album on, almost abruptly. The ending could've been more fulfilling, but it's definitely suitable.
Young Thug may have his reputation in hip-hop, but he's well aware of what, and, more importantly, who brought him there. JEFFERY is a dedication album, a mixtape consisting of tracks named after his idols and peers. It also feels like it's his own personal statement, a mark that puts his name down in history. The mixtape's title was originally No, My Name Is Jeffery, as if to say that we should be looking at who he is, rather than his name. It's a humble album, perhaps not his best work, but certainly some of his most important.
Favorite Tracks: Pick Up The Phone, Wyclef Jean, Webbie
Least Favorite Track: RiRi