Young Thug - “Punk” Album Review

Story posted October 20, 2021 in Arts & Entertainment by Caelan Chevrier.

Atlanta rapper, influencer and trap icon Young Thug is back with his sophomore studio album, “Punk.” It is hard to believe that with all his success and circumnavigation that this is only his second record. One can tell that both “So Much Fun,” and “Punk” sound more clearly focused and driven compared to his near-two dozen mixtape collection.

With such little promotion, this newest release might seem to have dropped out of the blue even though it was announced several months ago. “Punk” helps reinvent Young Thug, allowing him to explore new stylistic changes for the better and the worse.

Although it has its moments, “Punk” is barred by considerable filler and lacklusterness that keeps it standing out from the rap scene as a whole, and even in Thug’s discography.

With 20 tracks and an hour's worth of content, there is almost guaranteed to be a mixed bag. Quality over quantity will always rule, exemplified as 2016’s “Jeffery” where Thug was more effective with just half of the tracks. He runs into a problem similar to Polo G’s “Hall of Fame,” where instrumentally, nearly every track sounds the same.

Here, nearly every single beat, despite the wide variety of production credits that are attributed to “Punk,” are just piano or acoustic guitar. The title is deceiving, there is nothing punk about this record. Even Machine Gun Kelly is more punk than Young Thug.

This is not entirely a bad thing, because of how slow the record is. Thug opens up more insight into his personal life. The opening track, “Die Slow,” provides one of the best examples of this. “I'm just seekin' for God's soul 'cause I know something's missin' | Comme des Garçons boxers and I came from penny-pinchin,'” he sings.

He also describes his parents splitting up, wealth disparity, and even race relations. He is not even singing or rapping, he is talking to his audience directly making for the track to be especially heartbreaking. The sincerity of the song is almost ruined when he says “I always knew I wasn't gon' be gay | I had her sendin' pictures to my mom phone when I was like eight,” it just seems very unfitting.

Even with all of the slower tracks, there are still some bangers that bring the intensity. “Bubbly (with Travis Scott and Drake),” shows great chemistry between all three artists, and features an instrumental that is pure chaos with an air-siren sounding noise screaming throughout the mix. “Peepin Out The Window (with Future & Bslime)” also displays another fantastic collaboration between two of the most important people in Atlanta trap music.

The electric guitar layers add so much flavor to the track and are refreshing to the track list as a whole. This is more of what “Punk” should have been, less afraid to show any edge.

The album was delayed a few hours because Thug claimed that he “needed Post Malone on the album,” and this was rightfully so. “Livin It Up (with Post Malone & A$AP Rocky)” is easily the best track on the album and is a certified hit.

Post Malone delivers one of his best vocal performances and choruses in years and is accompanied by a delectable A$AP Rocky feature. The entire song is beyond catchy and has a chance to become one of Thug’s biggest hits yet.

A majority of the features did their thing with J.Cole, and Nate Ruess from “Fun,” also standing out. “Punk” also contains two posthumous features from the late Juice WRLD and Mac Miller.

They both held their ground but were ultimately nothing special. The worst feature on the album comes from Doja Cat, who was horrendously paired with Thug on “Icy Hot.”

It is hard to say if it was the mixing, songwriting, engineering, or some other factor, but the track is almost entirely unlistenable.

The chorus is complete migraine material even before comprehending the lyrics. This is disappointing as Doja Cat has been putting on a show recently, and their previous collaboration was solid as well.

Although very cohesive, “Punk,” is a bit of a mess. Cutting several tracks, and adding ones with more dissimilarity would have worked wonders for the record. It is hard to judge the reliability of this album, but as of now, things are not looking too great.

It can be appreciated that Thug took a step outside his comfort zone, but the end product could have been more well-crafted. However, he does get credit for perhaps the best album cover of the year.

Overall, throughout its hits and misses, “Punk” is still very much a Young Thug record, and fans should be able to find enjoyment in this project despite its obvious flaws. -Caelan Chevrier

Rating: 5/10

Reviewer’s Favorite Songs: “Die Slow (with Strick),” “Peepin Out The Window (with Future & Bslime)” “Livin It Up (with Post Malone & A$AP Rocky)”

Reviewer’s Least Favorite Song: “Icy Hot (with Doja Cat)”

 

Caelan Chevrier is a second year majoring in journalism. To contact him, email cjc6789@psu.edu.

About the Contributors

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Caelan Chevrier

Second Year / Journalism

Caelan Chevrier is a second-year student in the Donald P. Bellisario College of Communications at Penn State University studying broadcast journalism and marketing with the goal of graduating with a bachelor’s degree in four years. His plan is to get involved in numerous media-related clubs during his stay. His career goal is to spread informative, meaningful and entertaining content across various platforms and to be a positive impact on the community. He has also spent time working at The Westport Local Press in his hometown of Westport, CT. If you’d like to contact him, email him at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) or .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).