Midnight April 15th could have been, without hyperbole, the most anticipated drop day of 2021 for hip hop fans. For the first time in months, a big-name artist—namely Young Thug—was set to premiere new music. The COVID-19 pandemic has taken its toll on musicians, preventing them from engaging in their most profitable activity, touring. As a result, since the beginning of 2020, very few rappers have decided to drop new music for fear that the songs would be old and forgotten by the time the world opened up again. Young Thug served as a bit of an exception to this rule. He released his collaboration with Chris Brown, “Slime & B,” on May 8, 2020, and followed up with Young Stoner Life’s (His record label) second studio album, “Slime Language 2,” less than 12 months later. But after this novelty wears off, is it still a quality album?
Young Stoner Life, often referred to as YSL, is a record label headed by Jeffrey Lamar Williams, a.k.a. Young Thug. Other notable names on the label include Gunna and Lil Keed. While “Slime Language 2” is a collaborative effort between all the label’s artists, Young Thug and Gunna are listed as the central contributors. While the talent on the label is certainly there, and does lead to some standout moments on “Slime Language 2,” the relative result is questionable considering the immense potential it had.
One of the most significant strengths of “Slime Language 2” broadly speaking, is the production and beat selection. The likes of producers such as Wheezy and Southside ensure that each song on the album has the potential to be a hit, provided the artists deliver in equal capacity. The delicate piano notes on “Slatty” or the infectious guitar riff on “Real” are examples of the subtle but significant touches that pop up all over the album. It is impossible not to feel uplifted with the triumphant horns on “Came and Saw.” The dominant and atmospheric 808 pattern on “Wokstar” complements the style of London rapper Skepta perfectly and allows him to deliver yet another great feature. In these cases, the beat and artists complement one another perfectly, representing some of the high points of the album.
Another highlight of the album is the head honcho of YSL himself, Young Thug. The difference in the quality of the songs that he appears on compared to those without him is more than noticeable—it is glaringly apparent. There is a reason why he is the most popular and renowned artist on the album, and the vocalist displays that very well. On songs such as “That Go!” and “Paid the Fine,” Thug sets himself apart from the talent on his label, delivering crisp lines with his characteristic vocal acrobatics. His flow on these beats is impeccable, and leaves me wanting a Young Thug solo project above all else.
There are two standout aspects of the album that I feel deserve special attention. The first is Drizzy Drake, who provides the best verse of the whole album on the song “Solid.” As soon as Gunna’s hook concludes, Drake dominates the rest of the track, coming in with the braggadocious and swagger-filled, “Revin’ the engine, woah/ city dependin’, I gotta finish it.” He demonstrates incredible vocal control, spitting his bars with the measure and confidence that only someone with such a legacy can. It is the perfect song to put on in the car for a late-night drive. The other standout to mention is “Ski.” The snippet of this beat had been leaked a week prior to the album’s release, so the surprise factor was sadly a wash. However, the song delivered and then some. The initial beat is simply beautiful, invoking a tropical and fun feeling that Thug and Gunna famously capitalized on in past songs like “Surf” and “Hot.” The beat develops with more and more background additions that build and mesh into one cohesive, transportive experience. Oh, and Thug and Gunna killed their verses too.
Where this album seriously lacks is consistency. On a 23-track album, low points and lulls are inevitable, but unfortunately for “Slime Language 2,” the last 18 songs lose the initial grandeur of the album. In a questionable decision, YSL decided to put the majority of its notable features in the first few tracks of the album (Drake, Travis Scott, Lil Duke) and the album is never able to reclaim the highs that it achieves in this first batch of songs. As Young Thug begins to appear less and less—he is in the first five, while only in eight of the next 18—the quality takes a precipitous decline. From Uzi’s lackluster contribution in “Proud of You” to the horrendous and seriously disappointing Future feature on “Superstar,” the latter part of this album grows boring and tedious. It becomes a chore to finish the project. Kid Cudi’s verse in “Moon Man” is the only contribution from this part of the album that I believe deserves recognition.
As a whole, “Slime Language 2” boasts soaring highs, however it is weighed down by a bloated tracklist that quickly drops in quality. While this is not Thug’s best musical contribution by a long shot, hopefully the album serves as the basis for more rap albums to come out in the near future. For the first anticipatory night in a while, I can’t say I am entirely satisfied, but not wholly disappointed either.
Album Rating: 5.6 / 10
Best Songs: Ski, Slatty, Diamonds Dancing, Solid, Come and See
Best Feature: Drake (Solid)