Rapper Young Thug was scheduled to perform at the Newport Music Hall on Saturday night. It wasn’t until 15 minutes before Sunday when the Atlanta emcee finally took the stage.
Forty minutes and 15 songs later he was gone, disappearing in a smog of radio hits and forgettable guest verses.
To say Young Thug’s trip to Columbus was a disappointment would be an understatement. A nearly-packed concert hall suffered through three hours of agonizing hype men and cookie cutter local acts just to be treated to a below-average featured act.
For nearly an hour preceding Thug’s stage entrance one of the 20 or so stage dwellers would announce that Thugger was in the building only to hear the same announcement 10 minutes later. The audience grew restless as boos echoed through the concert hall half an hour before midnight.
The impatient calls were silenced when the slender Young Thug emerged stage left in a white coat. Thugger’s ensemble was comparable to that of a rock star, but he kept concert goers waiting like most rapper-musicians tend to do.
With an after party at Xclusive to attend, Young Thug ran through his set list, which contained a predictable and small sample of songs.
The stories surrounding the former Rich Gang rapper’s work ethic suggest that he’s sitting on nearly 10 projects. Even after over 100 unreleased songs were leaked online following the release of 2015’s “Barter 6,” Young Thug didn’t even seem to flinch.
So when a rapper who is known for his constant studio hustle churns out 10 well-known tracks and a handful of 30-second verses for a concert, it is only right to feel ripped off.
The above feeling was best represented by the crowd’s reaction to Young Thug anthems “Danny Glover,” “Stoner” and 2015 concert-closing hit “Best Friend.” A DJ got more of a rise out of the audience just by spinning Travis Scott’s “Antidote” than the Atlanta rapper did from performing his hit tracks.
The interesting parallel between Scott and Thug is that they were arguably the two most popular spawns from 2013’s “Yeezus.” Despite not being a radio success, Kanye West’s genre-bending album opened mainstream lanes for rappers like Young Thug.
Thugger’s work with middle school peer Rich Homie Quan in 2014 produced possibly the most-spun rap track of the year, “Lifestyle.”
Young Thug didn’t interact with those in attendance at the Newport very much, but as the beat to “Lifestyle” crept up in the background, he began to speak. After asking audience members to make an “L” with their fingers, Thug began to reflect on his come-up.
Aside from the above occasion, it didn’t seem like Young Thug was even performing to an audience. One of the most intriguing aspects of the new-age rapper is how he can bend his voice with instrument-like precision on his songs.
Two songs from Thugger’s catalogue that best represent his addition to rap’s ever-changing soundscape are “Barter 6” intro “Constantly Hating” and his addition to Jamie xx’s “I Know There’s Gonna Be (Good Times).” The two tracks are a good representation of the rapper’s vocal range and free-form flow.
Unfortunately, the two aforesaid tracks weren’t included in Young Thug’s performance. Instead the audience endured Thugger’s dispassionate slurring into the microphone and barely heard any pitch variations, a staple of his music.
For Young Thug, Columbus just seemed like a random stop on a tour that isn’t reflective of one project. He came out onto the stage, spewed some popular radio tunes and was gone. Even the eager hype men who were flowing with energy all night sat behind Thug as he performed, unamused and unmoved.
By this performance it’s difficult to say that Young Thug’s career currently has structure and vision. The Atlanta artist is at a very interesting point in his career.
His fizzled-out relationship with Cash Money’s Birdman over a feud with Lil Wayne and now-settled beef with longtime friend Rich Homie Quan are proof that there is little structure in Young Thug’s musical life.
People lacking structure in their life are also usually the ones showing up hours late.