Deciphering the Idol Worship of Young Thug's 'Jeffery' Tracklist
Shortly after Young Thug dropped his latest LP/mixtape/brand promotion tool Jeffery, he revealed on his Instagram that he “named the songs after all my idols,” with a track list that featured songs titled “Guwop” and “Harambe.” Most of the songs have direct connections to their namesake, but it often goes beyond just name-dropping.
Throughout Jeffery, each song seems to take on the spiritual tone of each “Idol” it name-checks, with Thugger channeling his influences in a manner more transparent than most artists are willing to reveal. Here’s a track-by-track breakdown of Thugger’s Idol worship.
1. “Wyclef Jean”
Jeffery does his best to channel a midtempo reggae guitar riff into island vibes reminiscent of his Idol Wyclef Jean’s Haitian homeland. He’s long admired ‘Clef but hadn’t worked with him before track 9, “Kanye West.” If you strain to hear it, the bridge sorta sounds like he’s saying “Duvalier,” the Haitian despot overthrown in 1986, but that might be giving Thugger a bit too much credit.
2. “Floyd Mayweather" (feat. Yung Thug, The Gunna, & Gucci Mane)
This song is all about flexing riches; try “I got six brand-new foreigns on my wrist/ I got six Forgiatos on my fist” or “Diamonds flawless 'round my neck, gave me a chill/ Lately I've been flyin' on them Lears” on for size. It’s appropriate content for a song named after Floyd “Money” Mayweather, the richest boxer in the history of the sport. He recently took home a $250 million purse for defeating Manny Pacquiao in a unanimous decision in 2015. Thugger has mentioned Mayweather before in numerous songs, including “Heart Attack,” “Mind Right” and “Yamborghini Dream.” He reportedly “almost” signed to Mayweather’s TMT label, but it never materialized.
3. “Swizz Beatz”
It’s possible to connect vibes from the production of “Swizz Beatz” to the sound palette of its namesake, but the ties on this track to the actual Swizz Beatz are tenuous, at best. At the very least, Thugger respects and idolizes Swizz, hanging out at his parties and joining him on tracks, like the recent DJ Snake song “The Half.”
4. “Future Swag”
This track certainly sounds sonically inspired by Future’s bouncy club trap aesthetic. But it’s hard to tell if he’s bigging up Future’s swag or clowning on him. He’s exchanged cross words with the Atlanta Auto-Tune artist before (on Twitter, at least). But they cool now. And yet, Thugger seems to be fixated on Ciara. The lyrics start off with a subtle “I f--- on your baby mama/ I f--- on your baby mama/ Let’s f--- on your baby mama,” and the rest of the verse continues the theme.
In her Drake-featuring smash hit from earlier this year, Rihanna says the word “Work” approximately 437 times. Thugger wastes little time connecting this ode to its namesake, with a hook that goes “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.” One might be tempted to think he’s singing the song to Rihanna, but a closer inspection of the lyrics makes it feel more like he’s playing dress-up as Rihanna, taking on her voice (it even cracks in a similar way hers does), but mostly her “bad boss bitch in charge” attitude.
6. “Guwop" (feat. Young Scooter, Offset & Quavo)
“Guwop” is Gucci Mane, the enigmatic rap star with a lightning-bolt ice cream face tattoo who was recently released from his latest stint in federal prison. Gucci wasted no time after his release, dropping his LP Everybody Looking within a month of getting out, and Thugger was there to support, lending his talents to the track “Guwop Home.” Gucci made GUWOP a backronym in 2014, declaring on Twitter that it stood for “God, Unity, Wisdom, Opportunity & Power.” Migos’ Offset and Quavo make an appropriate guest appearance -- Gucci helped build the Atlanta trap scene they came up in. Gucci affiliate Young Scooter is also featured.
It wouldn’t be a Young Thug album if his tongue wasn’t firmly planted in his cheek. This track is named after a gorilla at the Cincinnati Zoo who was murdered after a child wandered into his habitat. Memes ensued, veering toward the distasteful and, eventually, the outright racist. The gorilla’s namesake, “harambee,” is a Swahili word that, roughly translated, means “to pull together” as a community -- it’s a rallying cry in Kenya. Thugger's lyrics on “Harambe” are mostly just about having sex and aiming guns at, well… everyone. But on this, the album’s seventh track, he does his best to channel his rage into a Harambe impersonation, growling “Ape shit n---a, Godzilla, n---a, act up/ Go ape shit, go Godzilla, bae, back it up” on the hook.
8. “Webbie" (feat. Lil Duke)
The namesake of track nine is Baton Rouge, Lousiana, rapper Webbie, who’s been signed to the late Pimp C’s Warner Bros. imprint Trill Entertainment since 2003. Thug’s Idol was banned from BET’s 106 & Park for life after sexually harassing host Rocsi Diaz.
9. “Kanye West" (feat. Wyclef Jean)
This is the first collaboration between Wyclef and Thugger, despite Mr. Jean’s moniker gracing the album’s opening track. This song was at various points called “Pop Man,” “Wet Wet” and “Elton John” before settling in on Yeezus’ government name. The carefully arranged piano on the hook might suggest the appropriateness of an Elton nod, but “Get her high put it in her butt then beat it up” certainly sounds more like a Kanye West lyric. Though one could probably say that about any number of rappers.
Bonus - "Pick up the Phone" (feat. Travis Scott & Quavo)
This song could have probably have been called Travis Scott, but as it also appears on Scott’s album Birds in the Trap Sing McKnight, we assume that it didn’t fit retroactively into Thugger’s naming scheme. Scott has certainly pulled influence from Thugger’s style, so it’s not likely he’s literally calling him his idol here; they say imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, so perhaps that explains the bond.