Halloween mixtapes are becoming an annual treat for hip-hop fans. Last year, Future released Monster, a cameo-loaded mixtape featuring Lil Wayne, with production by long-time collaborators such as Metro Boomin. Young Thug’s Halloween-timed Slime Season 2 follows the first Slime Season mixtape, which was released in September, and this is a similarly hefty effort, with appearances from his “husband” Rich Homie Quan and the Young Money patriarch, Birdman.
Like the first Slime Season, the second instalment is more surreal than macabre, with Young Thug crooning over tracks in the signature style that has been praised and ridiculed in equal measure. Don’t Know ft Shad Da God is one of the tape’s standouts and showcases exactly what people find intriguing about Thug. Produced by one of his go-to producers (London On Da Track), it features minor chords played on synths, forming an unnerving backing to allow Thug to sing the indecipherable chorus (Hannibal Buress calls this delivery “gibberish rap”), which reaches a crescendo with Thug straining out the lines: “I don’t know why, I don’t know why but I did.”
Those ideas of mystery, missed connections and confusion is all over the mixtape, from the artwork (Thug dangles from a puppeteer’s string à la Mario Puzo’s The Godfather) to tracks like Hey, I, which moves from lines about complex love lives to Thug’s penchant for buying diamonds for his lovers. The roster of producers is impressive, from Metro Boomin and London On Da Track to Wheezy and Southside, who is one of a line of beatmakers from Atlanta’s PatchWerk studios – the group that, arguably, has helped to shape the sound of contemporary hip-hop more than any other collective.
The production team rarely move the music out of first gear. Every track is low-slung and melancholic. Thug manages to sound like a spurned lover on She Notice, even as he gives a very detailed account of receiving oral sex. On the rare occasion things step up, such as on the EDMesque Phoenix, he creates an ode to having children by different mothers, while casually dropping in the line:“Grab that dick eight ways like an octopus.” It’s an odd mix, that is, at times, just as much funny-peculiar as it is funny-haha, with Thug treading the same line between tragedy/comedy as predecessors Kool Keith and Lil B.
That out-there approach means that even when he opts for something seemingly more straightforward on tracks such as Twerk It, the chorus is offset by a verse in which Thug reels off all his different personality traits (“I’m going to mix shit up like a liger”). For those who swear by Thug’s output as if he’s some sort of rap saint, this will be gospel; for those waiting to be converted, this will probably make them more secular than ever.