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Young Thug Barter 6 300 Entertainment / Atlantic

It’s hard to talk about this record without mentioning that album title, so for those not in the know, let’s summarise the context: Lil Wayne is Young Thug’s idol. Young Thug has been picked up by Birdman, who used to be Lil Wayne’s label boss. Wayne and Birdman are in a bitter feud, and Wayne has accused Birdman of withhold- ing his next album, Tha Carter V. Young Thug, for reasons it’s hard to understand, decided to call his next full length Tha Carter 6. After being threatened with a lawsuit, Thugger then changed the title to Barter 6 – a reference to the Blood gang’s practice of replacing the letter “C” with “B” to express their disdain for the Crips.

Prior to its release, Complex magazine posed the question: will Barter 6 make Lil Wayne’s Carter V irrelevant? The answer is no. While Weezy is one of the few identifiable strands in the DNA of Young Thug’s eccentric vocal style, this surprisingly restrained record sees the Atlanta rapper swerve major label theatrics and continue to carve his own path. Constantly Hating sets the tone sonically with a subtle, mid-paced trap beat which features a featherlight melody that feels almost comic when juxtaposed with Birdman’s threat to break your nose. The less-is-more approach of the beats here is a triumph.

With bigger gaps to fill and little to hide behind, Barter 6 sees Thugger exercise the full melodic and rhythmic potential of his voice. It’s possibly his most polished material to date, but it sounds like nothing else out there. And after a few listens, all those peculiar punch lines, spluttered ad-libs and gooey, off-key hooks begin to stick in your memory like drying drops of paint that were recklessly flung at a canvas. Thrilling stuff.