With any rapper coming to the UK for the first time there will be a sense of not just excitement, but intrigue. We follow these rappers every move. Watching every video, listening to every album and mixtape religiously. A fascination slowly boils until we embody everything aspect of them, yet without ever laying eyes on them.
So it was no surprise when Young Thug announced his debut UK show that it was an instant sell out. As soon as he stepped out on stage the 170 million views on ‘Lifestyle’ and endless nights listening to Barter 6 were instantly justified. We were witnessing one of the most important artists of our generation. Before Thug could even start a lyric the crowd were singing it right back at him. It’s been a long time since a rapper has ignited a crowd in the UK like he did, and it will be a long time till someone does it again.
Opening with ‘2 Cups Stuffed’, the crowd immediately turned into a frenzy. As the song ended everyone took a second just to register he was here in the building. As eccentric and other worldly as we saw him through our laptop screens, he was now unhinged and patrolling the stage in front of us. Slowly the chords of ‘With That’ creeped in, the crowd erupted as we got our first taster of Barter 6. A dark and offbeat record that would be hard to translate to the stage received a reaction like no other, a credit to Young Thug that he has brought his unique and off-centre sound to the forefront of Hip Hop.
An ever ongoing element to Young Thug is the obsession to find out how he makes it all work. Drawing inspiration from nearly everywhere and anything, he somehow ties it all together. This was proven in his setlist. Going from murky album cuts such as ‘Halftime’ to radio hits ‘Hookah’, showing off his ability to craft entire songs and yet also melodic hooks to create timeless club hits. It was clear Thug has a tight grasp of the current landcape of music, jumping from one side of the spectrum to the other, from smash hit ‘All about the Money’ to his collaboration with Jamie xx ‘Good Times’.
It doesn’t matter who it is, your parents, grandparents or ancestors. We came here to live this damn lifestyle
As the show delved into its final third, it showed no signs of slowing down. Anthems ‘Danny Glover’ and ‘Stoner’ were performed with complete vigour and genuine excitement by Thug. Throughout the entire show he had the crowd hooked, and you could tell it meant the world to him. As the show came to an end he stated “It doesn’t matter who it is, your parents, grandparents or ancestors. We came here to live this damn lifestyle.” In typical Thug fashion it did and didn’t make sense. As ‘Lifestyle’ blared out there was a sense of unity that no rapper has brought to the UK for a long time.
Young thug isn’t just a leader but a revolutionary, and everyone in the crowd was behind him.