Young Thug: choosing melodies over mincing words in Barter 6

Rapper continues to build on his strengths in new album


Album: Barter 6

Release Date: April 16

Label: 300 Entertainment/Atlantic Records

Grade: B+

In the public eye and in the record studio, Young Thug is multifarious force.

At times, he’s just what his rap name implies: an individual who’s too hardheaded to think about the consequences of his actions. At other times, Young Thug is a savant whose talent lies in making weird, but catchy choruses. He’s an unpredictable character in hip-hop – all the time.

Barter 6 was released on April 16 after months of controversy from the album’s original title, which was Carter 6. According to Young Thug, who is a signee to the music group Rich Gang, the album’s title was intended to be an homage to rapper Lil’ Wayne. However, the title was changed after Lil’ Wayne threatened to sue Young Thug.

The album features production from Atlanta producer London on da Track as well as beats from Wheezy, Ricky Racks and Kip Hilson. Barter 6 features a slow, southern-trap production style with questionable lyrics that address Young Thug’s controversy and his conflict with Lil’ Wayne.

Tracks on Barter 6 feature beat patterns that are more experimental than the production on his previous songs “Stoner” or “Lifestyle.” The minimalistic beats on this album help display Young Thug’s unique delivery and voice whether the rapper is singing, whispering or shouting his lyrics.

“Rapping” may not even be an appropriate term for what Thug does on his tracks. His unique sound is based not on what he says, but how he says it. The rapper often screeches or howls lyrics, forming incoherent yet oddly catchy melodies.

Thug’s lyrics on the first track “Constantly Hating” address some of the negative feedback the rapper has received ever since he stepped on the scene with his 2014 chart-topping single, “Stoner.”

Pictures of the rapper wearing a dress, as well as posts on social networks referring to fellow Atlanta rapper Rich Homie Quan as his “bae” seem to have raised plenty of questions about Young Thug’s sexuality. The track “Thugger” responds to this by rapping lyrics mocking these rumors to show everyone he’s too intoxicated to care about gossip.

“Droppin' the top on the Bentley, I'm with the Birdman, yeah the eagle, geeked out my mind, man I'm tripping out, I don't know none of these people,” Thug raps on the song, “Check.”

Although there are quite few similarities between Thug and Lil’ Wayne, their key difference lies in their lyricism and wordplay. Young Thug’s lyrics tend to be overly simple; it’s the strangeness of his music that keeps people listening.

Drugs are also a big aspect of Barter 6 and whether it’s using them or selling them, Young Thug touches on the topic often.

The best example would be the song “OD,” where Thug talks about starting a “fight outside of a club” and getting someone to help him out with his problems.

This song is the most personal on the album, but even when Young Thug talks about his emotions, he still doesn’t say much about his life or past experiences.

By the end of the Barter 6, the listener doesn’t learn anything new about Young Thug and throughout most of the album, he raps about the same topics over and over.

As negative as that might sound, Young Thug’s obscurity keeps up with his public image, since the artist doesn’t do many interviews or talk about his thoughts on social issues.

Young Thug, instead of focusing on the lyricism, makes the melodies the focal point of his music. Hip-hop, a genre defined by its lyrics, causes many people to question Young Thug’s artistry.

Ultimately, Barter 6 pushes the boundaries of hip-hop in a way many fans of the genre are not used to. Young Thug’s focus on putting catchy hooks and melodies as the focal point of his music makes it a confusing but interesting listen.

Alex Pennington is a staff writer and can be reached at