Jeffery Lamar Williams, known professionally as Young Thug, is an American rapper, singer, and songwriter. Born on August 16, 1991 in Atlanta, Georgia, he is considered to be one of the most influential artists in hip hop today. With his distinctive vocal style and avant-garde fashion sense, Young Thug has developed a cult following that transcends the rap genre.
Early Life and Career Beginnings
Young Thug had a turbulent upbringing in the Jonesboro South projects of Atlanta. He was the second youngest of 11 children and was raised mainly by his mother after his father was sentenced to 25 years in prison. As a child, Young Thug was expelled from school in the sixth grade for breaking a teacher‘s arm. He was sent to juvenile prison for four years where he first started writing lyrics and rapping.
After being released at the age of 17, Young Thug embarked on his rap career by releasing a series of mixtapes from 2011-2013. These early mixtapes like I Came from Nothing and 1017 Thug showcased his raw talent and distinctive vocal style. He first gained major recognition in 2014 when he was featured on singles "About the Money" and "Lifestyle" with popular rappers T.I. and Rich Homie Quan.
Rise to Fame
In 2015, Young Thug signed with 300 Entertainment and Atlantic Records and released his commercial debut single "Stoner". His debut album Barter 6 was released in April 2015 and debuted at #1 on the Billboard Hip Hop chart.
He continued to gain popularity by releasing several mixtapes in 2015 including the Slime Season series and I‘m Up. Young Thug also collaborated with renowned artists like Kanye West, Travis Scott and Drake. This series of acclaimed mixtapes and high-profile collaborations propelled Young Thug into rap superstardom.
In 2016, Young Thug released his innovative mixtape Jeffery which featured him wearing a ruffled blue dress on the cover. This sparked controversy but also demonstrated his confident sense of style and refusal to conform to gender norms.
Young Thug released his second studio album Beautiful Thugger Girls in 2017 which was a departure from his typical hip hop style, showcasing him singing over country and pop-inspired tracks.
His long-awaited sophomore album So Much Fun was released in 2019 and debuted at #1 on the Billboard 200. It contained bangers like "The London" and "Hot" featuring Gunna.
In 2022, Young Thug formed a supergroup called Pushin P with rapper Gunna and released an album called Pushin P. The album contains the breakout hit "banking on me" which peaked at #31 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart.
Throughout his career, Young Thug has released over 140 singles as a lead artist and been featured on over 300 songs. He is praised for his versatility and melodic vocal delivery which has inspired a new generation of rappers.
Artistry and Impact
Young Thug is known for his weird and warbling vocal delivery that floats between singing and rapping seamlessly. His vocal tone is high-pitched and eccentric. He liberally uses autotune and imperfect harmonies to add texture and atmosphere to his songs.
Lyrically, Young Thug touches on typical rap themes like violence, drugs, and sex. But he also has introspective songs dealing with paranoia, depression, and poverty. He uses slurred, free-associative lyrics packed with clever wordplay and humorous punchlines.
Young Thug also displays a unique sense of fashion that defies gender norms. He often wears vibrant colors, skirts, dresses, and blouses in his personal life and music videos. His bold fashion choices paved the way for the current non-binary trends in hip hop fashion.
With his off-kilter and melodic style, Young Thug has had an massive influence on contemporary hip hop. His musical experimentation expanded the sonic palette of the rap genre. Artists like Lil Uzi Vert, Playboi Carti, Lil Yachty, and Trippie Redd have all named him as an inspiration. He paved the way for popular melodic rappers like Juice WRLD. Almost every young rapper today owes some aspect of their style to Young Thug‘s groundbreaking artistry.
Via his lyrics and personal life, Young Thug has been embroiled in many controversies. He originally called his debut album Carter 6 to spite rapper Lil Wayne‘s delayed Tha Carter V album. This caused tension between the two at first.
He‘s attracted criticism for his lyrics allegedly inciting violence and misogyny. His affinity for dresses and gender fluid presentation also sparks homophobic reactions.
In 2022, Young Thug was indicted on gang-related charges along with fellow YSL labelmates Gunna and Yak Gotti. He is currently still awaiting trial. This legal battle has sparked debates about racism within the criminal justice system.
Despite these controversies, Young Thug remains hugely popular in the hip hop world. His loyal fans are called the "Slimes" and relish his bizarre aesthetic and idiosyncratic art.
Young Thug has six children with four different women. His longtime girlfriend goes by the name Jerrika Karlae.
He owns a mansion in Buckhead, Atlanta worth $2.5 million. He owns many luxury cars like a Rolls-Royce Wraith and Bentley Mulsanne.
Young Thug has his own record label called YSL Records which manages rappers Gunna, Lil Keed, Yak Gotti and others.
He is an avid philanthropist who has donated money to Planned Parenthood and several colleges. In 2016, he donated $100,000 to the iPhone app StatesQ to benefit low-income families.
Despite feuds in the past, Young Thug has collaborated multiple times with rap legends like Gucci Mane and Lil Wayne. He even calls Lil Wayne his idol and spiritual father.
The Eccentric Prince
With his vocal ingenuity, genre-bending artistry and genderfluid personal style, Young Thug has cemented himself as one of the most eccentric, innovative and influential rappers of his generation. The self-proclaimed "Prince" of hip hop marches to the beat of his own drum. He has expanded the possibilities of rap and inspired scores of young artists. Even with legal troubles looming, Young Thug‘s imprint on music will persist for years to come. He remains one of the most fascinating figures in popular culture – The Eccentric Prince of Hip Hop.