Putting time and passion into a craft can net beautiful results. Just ask Young Thug, who has been releasing music since 2011, but 2019 was the year when all his talent and potential resulted in true mainstream success. His much-anticipated debut album, So Much Fun, dropped in August of that year, earned a No. 1 spot on the Billboard 200 chart in its first week week and went platinum—both are firsts for Thugger. Along with his singles “The London” featuring J. Cole and Travis Scott, and “Hot” featuring Gunna and Travis both being top 20 hits, it feels as if Thug finally got his just due. Now that he’s entered another realm of stardom, it’s only right that XXL put together a listening guide for his most important songs, illustrating his growth from then to now.
From the very start, Thug has always stuck out as an anomalous artist in hip-hop. Whether that’s due to his style (he’s worn Uggs and women’s clothing in the past), unique approach to rap, using atypical flows, screeching ad-libs or flexing his voice in ways that haven’t been seen before, the Atlanta rap star has carved a solid lane for himself that has inspired plenty of other rappers.
Thug quickly found his own sound despite being bogged down by early Lil Wayne comparisons, and began to make songs no one else could. 2014’s “Danny Glover” is a great example of this, as is 2016’s “King Troup,” a heartfelt tribute to a fallen friend. Thug’s career has been a lesson in duality; he can collaborate with more traditionally-styled rappers and bring them into his world, like he does on “Thief in the Night” with Trouble, and also make hit songs without compromising himself, as he showcases on “Hot” featuring Gunna.
Check the list below for the most essential songs in Young Thug’s still-rising career.