With Lil Yachty
South Side Music Hall, Dallas
Thursday, May 12, 2016
Young Thug, the 23-year-old artist from Atlanta, raps as if he’s from another world. But for all the weirdness and uniqueness, he left a whole lot to be desired following his sold-out show at the South Side Music Hall last night.
On his recordings, Young Thug’s never afraid to experiment with his vocals. He produces uncomfortable falsettos, inaudible mumbles, barks, screeches and any other sound he feels like belting out. His music and style are not bound by the status quo. He’s carved out a place in the hip-hop landscape and been rewarded with critical acclaim, constant radio rotation, hundreds of millions of views on his music videos and sold-out shows nationwide.
But, besides the fact that this show wasn't bogged down by an inordinate number of openers (Thugger hit the stage promptly at 10 p.m.), there was little to differentiate last night's performance from any other rap show. The sold-out crowd seemed to love every moment of his set, even though he just paced back and forth the whole night. His engagement with the crowd roused their enthusiasm, but it just felt standard.
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Even Thug's outfit was a bit disappointing, as he donned an unbuttoned St. Louis Cardinals jersey, skinny jeans and a bandana desperately trying to hold together his flowing dreadlocks. It’s not uncommon to see Thug wearing women’s clothing or sporting painted fingernails. (He had cutouts of Michael Jackson and Prince onstage, nods to androgynous artists) He’s admitted that his closet features mostly women’s clothes, he’s worn tutus in photo shoots and when asked why he prefers women’s clothes, he replies that it simply fits him better and it makes him feel like a rock star. Not missed: that old guard toughness and braggadocio that can make rap so painstakingly boring.
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So for Young Thug to be special in every way other than his live show is annoying. But his song selection was great – and that’s no small task. Since his explosion onto the national scene in 2014 with the release of Black Portland, Young Thug has released 10 mixtapes and boasts a ton more tracks that he’s featured on. It’s safe to say his fans probably heard their favorite songs as he quickly ran through “Power,” “Best Friend,” “Lifestyle,” “Danny Glover,” “Stoner” and countless other hits even if just for a verse or two.
The idea of an encore, however, seemed to be lost on those fans — however enthusiastic they may have been. When Thugger left the stage after performing “Best Friend,” the crowd made a beeline for the exits and his DJ had to tell the crowd the rapper wasn’t done. Young Thug quickly hopped back on the stage and performed one of his newest tracks, “Texas Love,” which is supposedly dedicated to the victims of the most recent Houston floods but makes no mention of it in the lyrics.
In his short time in the spotlight, Thug has already influenced a new generation of rappers, one of whom was his opener last night, fellow Atlantan Lil Yachty. He's taken blogs by storm in 2016 with his apathetic, nasally vocals, including the song "Minnesota," in which he raps about street life over a beat that would fit at a kindergarten recital. Even Yachty looked like a spawn of Thug's last night, with his hair braided, died red and meticulously outfitted with beads.
Sadly, like Thug, Yachty put together a set more concerned with raucous behavior than putting any effort into the music. Then again, if Young Thug isn’t concerned with his live show himself, why would his spawn be? It’s a vicious cycle.