Young Thug — one of the most influential artists of our generation — has finally shared his long-awaited album, PUNK, this weekend.
In commemoration of PUNK’s release, we‘ve complied a list of Thugger’s top-10 moments over the course of his career.
Gucci Mane’s Big Heart
It has been well-documented that Gucci Mane is responsible for the success of countless artists out of Atlanta. At the beginning of his career, Young Thug was heavily affiliated with Guwop’s 1017 imprint. In an interview with XXL, Gucci reminisced about signing Thug for $25,000 without hearing any of his music, purely off of his energy and personality.
Rebranding Rich Gang
Every artist’s career has phases, but Thug has had a head-spinning number of them. One of these stages was his alliance with Rich Homie Quan and Birdman, forming Rich Gang. Together, they would drop “Lifestyle” — arguably one of the most prolific songs in Thug’s discography, as well as Tha Tour Pt. 1 before going their separate ways.
Beefing with The Game
Young Thug is no stranger to conflict with his fellow lyricists. One of his most viral beefs was in 2015 with Los Angeles rapper The Game, who had words for Thug after a disagreement with Lil Wayne. Both rappers played into the beef heavily, with multiple social media posts and lyrical disses, until eventually the disagreement was resolved in 2016.
Taking Chances on Barter 6
Barter 6 was one of Young Thug’s most controversial albums. Some viewed the release as an homage to his idol, Lil Wayne, while others looked at it as a sign of disrespect. Another notable characteristic of the album is its artwork, featuring a tastefully censored Thug.
Jeffrey’s Purple Dress
Thugger has been known for his eclectic fashion sense since the start of his career — from his signature skinny jeans to his eye-catching jackets and glistening jewelry. One of his most iconic fashion moments was his purple dress from the cover of his 2016 album, Jeffery. Designed by Alessandro Trincone, Thug specifically picked this dress due to its underlying testament to androgyny and dismissal of gender boundaries.
‘Fashion icon’ Thug continued to make headlines in 2016 when he stopped a model in the middle of VFILES Runway’s Season 7 fashion show. He appeared to be smoking a blunt as he adjusted the model’s outfit, curated by Thugger himself. Both photos and video of the event proceeded to go massively viral, showcasing Thug’s dedication to the fashion industry.
Ditching the “Wyclef Jean” video shoot
2016 was a year of genius marketing on Thug’s part, especially when it came to Jeffrey. “Wyclef Jean” — a fan favorite off the project — received one of the least traditional video treatments in hip-hop. After the star of the show declined to appear, the director of the video was forced to make do with his resources and the result was hilarious.
Thug has been established as one of the most versatile artists of our generation, working with everyone from Travis Scott, Diplo, Ed Sheeran, Camilla Cabello and many more. His 2017 album Beautiful Thugger Girls was his attempt at pushing the hip-hop sound in a more country direction, and in doing so, he worked with some newer talent. Millie Go Lightly had been doing the opposite genre-bend, working to get a heavier hip-hop sound to her country music with the assistance of Thug’s producer Wheezy. They ended up using the same instrumental and merged the songs to create “Family Don’t Matter,” which was a standout track from the release.
Collaborating with Sir Elton
As much as working with a newer artist makes for interesting sounds, every artist has legends they would kill to have the chance to work with. For Thugger, this legend accepted his request and granted him the vocals for “High” — featuring none other than the legendary Sir Elton John. Apparently Elton himself is a fan of Young Thug and decided to give him the honor of his only studio recorded hip-hop collaboration. In short, Rocketman popped off.
Changing his name… again.
Young Thug has gone through a myriad of aliases since entering mainstream circles. His classic nickname, “Thugger,” has stuck around from the start, but in 2016 he insisted on going by his given name, Jeffery. After apparently ditching that name change attempt, he declared his newest moniker as “SEX” in 2018, proceeding to use the word as an ad-lib. For now, his profiles still refer to him as Young Thug, but who knows how long that will be the case.
For now on call me SEX!!!— Young Thug ひ (@youngthug) February 20, 2018
As his career continues to take leaps and bounds, more of these moments are sure to come about. His recent performance on NPR’s Tiny Desk Series previewed plenty of new music, with fans expecting a new album in the near future.