shIn an ideal world, the purpose of a collaborative project between two musicians would be to bring together each artist’s respective style, in a way that complements and expands upon that of their collaborator, with the result being an undertaking that pushes into new artistic territory for both musicians and provides listeners with an experience that could only have been conceived with the combined power of both artistic minds.  Of course, being a musician is a profession and, like any other profession, musicians have to consider the economic viability of their art, which adds another catalyst for collaborative endeavours, that being the potential for crossover between each artist and their collaborator’s audience.  Needless to say, there’s nothing wrong with this, as music is, at the end of the day, an industry, with us consumers hoping for a balance between monetary and artistic drive for these collaborative albums, with the musicians being able to come together and create the project that they want to make, whilst the potential for pulling in sales and streams from each artist’s audience and, on top of that, hopefully sharing audiences warrants such a release from a financial perspective.  Yet, when it comes to many of the collaborative commercial mixtapes between two prominent rappers that seemingly drop out of nowhere, it would most likely be fair to infer that the motivation behind such projects primarily relates to the prospect of networking, rather than to a burning artistic desire to bring together two powerhouses of mainstream rap music.  These sorts of mixtapes are stamped with a very specific set-up, in that they are typically released with little-to-no warning and, despite being collaborative projects, will include songs that only feature one of the mixtape’s two artists.  Similarly, they tend to come across as very rushed and as if the way in which the two rappers’ styles would play off one another was an afterthought, making for some overall awkward releases that do little to expand upon the artistry of any of the MCs involved, even if there exists the odd track that was pieced together rather well.  One of the latest mixtapes to fit into this category is the new collaborative project between Future and Young ThugSUPER SLIMEY, which conforms to the trend of these sorts of mixtapes with startling precision.

 

Compared to previous mixtapes of this ilk, however, SUPER SLIMEY seems to be hindered right from the onset, in that Future and Young Thug simply come across as an odd pairing.  The two Atlantan rappers have collaborated on individual songs in the past, but never to much success, and for quite obvious reasons.  Despite both artists being fundamental to the meteoric rise to prominence of a specific branch of trap music, rife with auto-tuned warbling and laced with lavish instrumentals, the two MCs are both at their strongest when playing to very different tonal territory within this subdivision of trap.  Whilst both rappers have flirted with a wide variety of instrumental styles in the past, Future has proven himself to be most comfortable spitting over beats with an expressly aggressive and nocturnal tone to them, in a way that brings out not just his most compelling capabilities as a performer, but that can also complement some of his similarly gritty and soulless lyricism.  Young Thug, on the other hand, through the diversity of his musical endeavours, has shown his true talents as a performer and a personality on brighter, more vibrant and more melodically textured production, as was evidenced clearly by the success of his JEFFERY mixtape from last year, which still stands as his most fully realised project to date by a considerable margin.  However, given that neither artist has continued to play to his own strengths, with Future’s previous solo project, HNDRXX, being perhaps his most syrupy and sickliest release thus far, whilst Young Thug’s recent Beautiful Thugger Girls mixtape was a disappointingly tepid pop rap project that purported to interpolate elements from country rap, it was unlikely that SUPER SLIMEY would play to either of their strengths.  Indeed, reconciling the styles of production that best suit both MCs would probably be an impossible task and, as such, SUPER SLIMEY exists in a sort of purgatory between these two styles, with the end product being appropriately mixed as a result.  Thankfully, there are some hits here and there, although such songs seem to merely be happy accidents, with the rest of the mixtape mismatching both artists in a way that drains the project of much in the way of chemistry or particularly engaging performances.  What’s more, with SUPER SLIMEY being bogged down by many of the usual issues that obstruct these sorts of collaborative mixtapes, primarily the feeling that this project was thrown together rather haphazardly, it struggles to be anything more than a chance for Future and Young Thug to exchange audiences.  Although only a handful of tracks are overwhelmed with some particularly flimsy production and poor performances, the majority of SUPER SLIMEY is simply far too lacking in any interesting songwriting or compelling chemistry to make the waves in the music world that a collaboration between such eminent rappers could have made.

 

With the styles of production that best suit Future and Young Thug practically being polar opposites within the two rappers’ shared brand of expensive-sounding and crooning-heavy trap music, any attempt made by SUPER SLIMEY to entirely harmonise these two approaches would almost certainly be in vain.  As such, the beats across the mixtape consistently meet in the middle, whilst perhaps leaning ever so slightly more towards some of the darker and more abrasive tones that have complemented Future in the past.  However, this isn’t necessarily to say that Future, as a result, finds himself to be more at home across much of SUPER SLIMEY.  After all, although the MC’s moodier and more nihilistic material has continuously proven to be his strongest, this arises not simply from the production alone, as Future himself is at his strongest when he sticks to his lower register, whilst nevertheless avoiding his bad habit of falling into a drab and monotonous delivery.  For much of SUPER SLIMEY, however, the rapper finds himself, if anything, playing more closely to Young Thug’s style, in that he will often perform in his mid-range, whilst splicing in brief licks of melody at the end of bars to break up his flow and help make for some more memorable deliveries.  In some regards, this approach isn’t all that bad for Future, in that it adds some more colour to his performances, helping him stay away from the monochrome deliveries that sometimes befall him when he sticks to his lower register, but at the same time, it often feels poorly suited to the instrumental tone of a song, which is exacerbated by the jarringly cheap-sounding distortion that is used on the MC’s voice for much of the tape.  Thankfully, this isn’t always the case, with No Cap being a surprisingly strong start to SUPER SLIMEY in this sense.  With the muffled, cycling guitar line establishing the somewhat sparse and slightly dour tone of the mixtape, the dash of energy that Future injects into his otherwise grimy flow makes for one of his most compelling performances in the tracklisting, especially given how well he trades off his verse to Young Thug’s.  Then again, it would be difficult to ignore just how similar the instrumental arrangement of No Cap is to that of Fuck Up Some Commas, one of Future’s previous hits, with Southside having contributed to the production on both songs, to the point that even the same siren sound effect is used to accentuate the start of some of the rapper’s bars.  Although Future makes an effort to add certain flourishes to his performance that distinguishes it from that which featured on Fuck Up Some Commas, it’s only natural that he should fall back into some of the same rhythms at times, whilst the fact that No Cap is lacking in anything resembling a hook simply makes it feel like a downgrade, especially with its production being more minimal.  This isn’t even the only song from SUPER SLIMEY that comes across as a cheap knock-off of a previous Future hit, with the similarities between 4 da Gang, the second of two songs from the mixtape to feature just Future, and Mask Off only underlining how the MC’s flow across the tape is far less suited to this sort of production.  Not only does Mask Off boast a much more textured and melodically potent instrumental, but 4 da Gang also sees Future apply a lighter, warbling delivery that merely sounds feeble atop this type of sparse, moody instrumental, with the rapper not bringing any power or assertiveness in his performance to ground the beat in its darker tones.

 

In turn, this issue is ultimately what makes Young Thug’s weedy crooning so ill-assorted to the production across much of SUPER SLIMEY.  Like Future, however, Young Thug is occasionally successful in altering his delivery to suit a track, with No Cap, once again, being one of the better examples of this.  The rapper reins in the wackier side of his quavering vocal style, opting to stick more towards his mid-range and put more of an emphasis on stringing together a consistent flow, instead of breaking up his delivery with sudden melodic trills, which may not present Young Thug at his best as a performer, but is certainly far more suited to the tone of the production, making for a more coherent performance that helps bring attention to the chemistry between the MCs.  When the rapper decides to employ his usual uncurbed, kooky vocal style, however, things can become a lot more hit-and-miss.  The lighter textures courtesy of the plucky strings on 200 play more in the direction of the territory in which Young Thug would be most comfortable, in that they strip away some of the more brooding tones of the surrounding songs in the tracklisting and provide a more melodically centred instrumental, and the same could be said of the bright guitar and peppy percussion of Killed Before, the second of two songs from SUPER SLIMEY to feature just Young Thug, even if the MC’s high-pitched crooning strays into the realm of whining at times.  A track like All da Smoke, however, is simply far too lacking in both melody and texture for Young Thug’s disjointed whimpers to come across as anything other than horribly flimsy, with the space that he inexplicably leaves between some of his bars not being filled with any interesting production quirks, to the point that the whole song sounds underwritten, rushed and poorly pieced together.  Even on a song such as Three, which attempts to be much more extravagant in its texturing in a way that could really benefit Young Thug’s performance, the combination of the toneless auto-tune on the rapper’s yelping vocals with the squeaky synth melody makes for a beat that is so lacking in any low-end to anchor all of these high frequencies that it can become quite grating as the track rattles on.

 

The salient problems with SUPER SLIMEY that cuts such as Three and All da Smoke point towards, however, relate less to the awkward attempts at bringing Future and Young Thug together and more to the underwhelming writing that went into so many of these songs, both lyrically and structurally.  Of course, neither of these two rappers are at all lyrical, with their appeal revolving more around the mood that they can provide on a track as opposed to any level of profundity in their lyrical content.  However, SUPER SLIMEY doesn’t simply feature the usual generic and derivative lyrics that recur across most of these two artists’ output, rather both Future and Young Thug’s ramblings are so disjointed, both topically and in terms of how often they struggle to connect their rhymes, that this really adds to the feeling that the mixtape was rushed out with little thought put into it.  This is made all the more evident by the absence of hooks on a significant portion of these songs, as well as the tendency to abruptly fade tracks out, which is even an issue with some of the better cuts in the tracklisting, such as No Cap.  The end product is a handful of songs that don’t merely feel underwritten, but that come across as little more than a garden-variety trap beat, with Future and Young Thug simply riffing about typical trap topics of money, women and fame on top of it.  In spite of the fact that there are a few tracks from SUPER SLIMEY that at least sound good, perhaps the only song to be particularly cohesive and thorough in its writing is Patek Water, which, for this reason and thanks to its guest appearance from Migos‘ Offset, has become the mixtape’s highest charting cut, and for good reason.  Not only is Patek Water one of the handful of songs from SUPER SLIMEY to feature a hook, and a relatively well-written one at that, but the very different vocal styles of the three MCs makes for a compelling, three-minute, moody trap banger, especially with the rappers displaying some chemistry in the way in which they trade off verses, even if Offset does outshine both Future and Young Thug with a gritty and contagious performance.  In terms of the writing across SUPER SLIMEY, however, Patek Water is the exception rather than the rule, with much of the rest of the tape coming across as rather haphazard in its composition.

 

Since the release of SUPER SLIMEY and its somewhat lukewarm reception by both critics and fans, a recurring sentiment I have seen expressed by those who were disappointed by the project is that a full-length Future and Young Thug collaboration sounds perfect on paper, but SUPER SLIMEY just didn’t live up to expectations.  In fact, Alphonse Pierre of Hot New Hip Hop prefaced his review of the mixtape with this exact statement.  I, however, would be inclined to completely disagree that a Future and Young Thug collaboration sounds good even in principle.  The two rappers are at their best when reinforced by completely different styles of production, to the point that any collaborative project between the two was bound to either awkwardly attempt to find common ground between these two styles or neglect the instrumental needs of one of the two artists.  In this sense, SUPER SLIMEY is exactly what I would have expected from such a project, with neither MC being entirely suited to the tone of much of the production, whilst the mixtape comes across as disorderly as these sorts of surprise projects tend to be.  Thankfully, there are a handful of stand-out moments for both Future and Young Thug that make up for some of the tape’s most maladroit production choices, but for the most part, just as SUPER SLIMEY attempts to meet in the middle of both rappers’ styles, the end result is similarly middling, with the vast majority of tracks simply being too plain to leave much of an impression on the listener either way.  Indeed, despite Future and Young Thug both being leading authorities in their branch of glossy trap music, their partnership on SUPER SLIMEY is, unfortunately, quite the non-event, and far from a musical milestone of a meeting of two artistic minds.

 

The Vinyl Verdict: 5/10

 

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