Quinton Burnett | Staff Writer
Young Thug has delivered an ambitious six-track EP, On the Rvn, hot on the heels of his label compilation tape Slime Language.
The project displays the Atlanta rapper, given name Jeffery Lamar Williams, at his best: sinuous, versatile and experimental. From the jaunty keys and drum kicks of intro track On the Run to the spacey and mom-friendly crooning of High, the project lands solidly among other gems in the sonic crown of Williams, such as Barter 6 and Slime Season 2.
On the Rvn is a force of a tape for one of rap’s most exciting acts. With an ensemble cast featuring upstart talent, verified superstars and an unexpected cameo, Young Thug graciously shares the stage on five of the EP’s six tracks. Unlike many feature-heavy projects, Thugger remains the star of his own show. Splitting the bill with Offset, Jaden Smith, 6LACK and Sir Elton John, it is the madcap energy and precise-yet-carefree flow of Young Thug resonating from the background which allows the rapper to steal the show in his best Willem Dafoe impression.
The project finds Thug and his assembled production team – fan favorite London On Da Track, K RICH, Supah Mario and Outtatown – playing with a more pop-friendly sound. They hit pay dirt early with intro track On the Run, recalling one of the few listenable tracks from 2017’s Future collaboration Super Slimey, Killed Before. The kicking bass combines with a lively and free flow to provide an escapist energy to the track, allowing the listener a feeling of freedom.
The defining characteristic of Young Thug’s career since his 2013’s 1017 Thug 2 has been experimentation. He is no stranger to different production and diverse flows. It should then come as no surprise that the EP’s standout track is a unique one.
Young Thug’s official remix to John’s classic track Rocket Man has the rapper crooning his heart away over a sample from the hit. The dynamics are admittedly strange. Track producer Stelios Phili’s distorted John sample proves the perfect sonic background to Williams’ Atlanta-affected crooning. Familiar listeners will again delight in the full use of Young Thug’s considerable vocal range. The artist tests the depths of his lower register in order to balance the airiness of the song.
On the Rvn is Young Thug’s announcement that he is here to stay, and he still doesn’t quite care what your “learned” hip-hop opinion of him is. On a sonically ambitious release that does not concern itself with anything superfluous, Young Thug combines a surgical precision with an inescapable energy to provide 2018 with one of its most fun projects.