Favorite Tracks: “Slatty (featuring Yak Gotti and Lil Duke),” “Came and Saw (featuring Rowdy Rebel),” “That Go! (featuring Meek Mill and T-Shyne)”
In 2006, Kobe Bryant and the Lakers faced the Phoenix Suns in the first round of the NBA playoffs. After six games shouldering the scoring burden, in game seven Kobe simply stopped shooting, deferring to his inferior teammates and letting the Lakers get buried by 30 seemingly to prove a point. That this is the first connection my brain made in reaction to hearing SLIME LANGUAGE 2 is a pretty harsh indictment of the non-Young Thug parts of the album, yes. But when the space around Thugger is filled with generic beats and various attempts to mimic better rappers and singers, I started to wonder what the point of this album is, because it consistently undercuts the default answers to that question.
Is SLIME LANGUAGE 2 a development opportunity for the artists on the Young Stoner Life label? Perhaps, but 13 appearances by Thug, seven by Gunna, and no more than three by any other artist suggest that the executive producer was pretty clear which material was worth focusing on. Interestingly, Thug’s own family proves to get some real development time; girlfriend Karlae, sister Dolly White, and brother Unfoonk provide some of the album’s few engaging moments, particularly Unfoonk’s heartfelt singing on “Real.” Too often, though, SLIME LANGUAGE 2’s morass of melodic trap leaves little impact nor evidence that the YSL members have much distinction to offer the rap landscape. Lil Keed, T-Shyne, and others stay firmly in their mentor’s lane, each picking slightly different facets to emulate, and none are consistently successful. Strick turns in “We have 21 Savage at home” effort on “WokStar,” failing to match a reasonably strong Skepta verse, and then leaps sideways into Kid Cudi territory to trail behind the real thing on “Moon Man.” YTB Trench may be the physical embodiment of 2020 rap trends, sporting the millionth iteration of three-letter acronym rap names and a forgettable, auto-crooned delivery that goes in one ear and immediately out the other.
Is SLIME LANGUAGE 2 a label showcase then—like a 75-minute posse cut? If so, the number of unaffiliated features feels misguided, especially because nearly all dominate their tracks. Travis Scott punches up “Diamonds Dancing” after a boilerplate Gunna verse, and Rowdy Rebel wrings the neck of some rollicking “Hot”-esque horns on the “Came and Saw” beat, sounding like a man possessed after years rapping through prison phones. Warrior is so intolerable that Big “drop it to the floor, that’s an ass-quake” Sean provides a refreshingly adept, competent change of pace, and Meek Mill brings more energy on “That Go!” than anyone. The only well-known guest to really stumble is Future, unsteadily warbling his way through the abhorrent, flat “Superstar.” SLIME LANGUAGE 2 also commits a sin of sequencing by leading with its best track, the wild “Slatty.” The song finds Thug in classic form, swerving unpredictably through a rousing, phenomenal Southside beat. Gunna keeps up well enough before BARTER 6-era collaborators Yak Gotti and Lil Duke smash back-to-back verses, flanked by machine gun hi-hats grouped in much larger numbers than the usual triplet blasts. Delivering such compelling production sets a bar the rest of the album barely tries to meet.
A tape composed of just the cream from this crop would be about a quarter the length, picking up the pace and variety of the runtime considerably. So what is the point of SLIME LANGUAGE 2? I’m left with little besides a comparison to the day the other Lakers proved Kobe right, especially when two hours after I finished writing this, a deluxe version dropped, adding seven tracks and just two additional YSL verses not attributable to Thug and Gunna.