“So many hundreds how the hell I'm going to lose 'em. Put me in the Jaggy or the Wraith and now I'm coolin'“
Over two years later, you still remember the feeling of sitting down on that bench in the park close to where you had grown up.
It’s where you went as a teen to smoke weed or drink alcohol with your friends, but it was far from this pleasant this time.
You were crying, sobbing really, after leaving the veterinarian and so you went to sit down on this bench and put your headphones on because all you wanted to do was to listen to… Young Thug?
You lost Simba ever so suddenly, that was the worst part about it. Over the weekend just after his birthday, your mom had told you that he sure seemed to be tired these days and that she was going to take him to the clinic on Monday.
Which she did, only to be told on that Monday night that Simba, your family wheaten terrier, was sick, really sick. In fact, your family had two choices: either take Simba to a hospital for animals and have him undergo more tests with no certainty of ever finding out a true outcome, or be there for him and comfort him until he were to take his last breath a mere nine years after birth.
You and your mom had decided on the latter scenario and in fact were picking Simba up from the vet on Wednesday evening, but you still wanted to see him on that morning before going to work. You had gone with your mom to see him on Tuesday night, and that visit shook you. Simba wasn’t doing well, far from it, and you needed to see him.
So you did, and it absolutely wrecked you. It wrecked you to see this jovial golden fluff of hair suffering so much. It wrecked you to see that Simba, who had always absolutely loved to walk outside, could barely take five or six steps when you took him out for a stroll on that morning outside the vet clinic.
“Ah-ah-ah-ah-ah-ah, work. Do the work, baby, do the work. Tonight, baby, do the work, baby, do the work. Tonight I wanna chill so you gotta do the work (Rihanna). If you want it, you gotta earn it”
Music has a way of anchoring in time and place—and feeling too. And for that reason, you haven’t listened to JEFFERY without getting emotional in the past two years.
You had never listened to Young Thug all that much, you grew up to be a purist hiphop fan you know, but that changed that September week—or rather, it had changed just the week earlier when your coworkers kept playing Young Thug’s Swizz Beatz track, the one with the “Love love love” chorus (if you can even call it that) that kept getting stuck in your head.
“Ape shit nigga, Godzilla, nigga, act up. Go ape shit, go Godzilla, bae, back it up. I just wanna have sex. I just wanna have a baby out you, girl (hey). I just wanna go brazy about you, girl (hey). Don't make a nigga act crazy, oh-ooh girl (ayy)”
There are those who will say that Thugger doesn’t make real/good/true/actual hip-hop music. That his music is intelligible and lacks substance. That’s patently untrue, for one thing have you even listened to Young Thug’s star turn on Drake’s Sacrifices? What’s that if not excellent and real hiphop and a showcase of the man’s considerable abilities?
In any case, you’re not here to play armchair music critic, but you know enough to know that Young Thug’s biggest strength is his voice, its versatility and the way it takes a life of its own depending on the song. What Thugger raps about and says in his lyrics matters yes, but his biggest draw is how his voice oozes emotions. You see, there’s something almost vulgar about always trying to rationalize the emotional, which is by definition fairly irrational. Thugger uses his voice to challenge the status quo, to mix the masculine and feminine, romance and pleasure, and you’re always feeling what he wants you to feel by the end of his songs.
What’s the draw of an album like JEFFERY? You hear it when you hear Thugger wail on RiRi and you wanna wail too. You wanna rage too when he rages in Harambe. And you wanna flex when he flexes on Guwop. Throughout the album, Thugger exudes raw feelings of tears and profound hurt even as his actual lyrics maybe don’t necessarily transmit this same message, and his music taps into the subconscious, the purely reptilian instinct of feel. Feel good, feel bad, but above all else feel.
At least that’s the draw for you. That, and the fact that it will forever live on as the death to Simba’s death in your mind.
“They politickin' 'bout these cases ('bout these cases, hey, ooh-ayy). I told her roll me up a blunt and I'ma face it (and I'ma face it, hey!)”
But back to the bench, and listening and crying to JEFFERY—or the day later. Now you’re at your mother’s place before going to work, and Simba is with you.
On that day, you were just concerned with him. He could barely move, and you were sitting there with him on his favourite couch, and you kept waiting. You kept listening to Simba’s heavy breathing slowing down and down and down. He was dying, you knew, and you were there to comfort him when he needed it.
Just like Thugger’s JEFFERY was there to comfort you when you needed it.
In the two years since you discovered the album that you’ve associated with losing your family dog so suddenly in September 2016, while you haven’t listened to JEFFERY without getting emotional, you also haven’t been able to stop listening to the album in the first place. In a way, this album is your portal to Simba’s last few days alive. He was deeply sick and hurting, but he was still there with you.
Music is beyond rationality. Beyond reason at times. And Young Thug has a PhD in the irrational and emotional, tapping deep into your soul throughout JEFFERY. It’s impossible to explain otherwise than to say that the album was there for you when you needed it most and will always keep you close to Simba.
But it’s also so grotesque to say that the album was simply this.