Photo by Marco Torres
Young Thug has always been a bit of an oddball in the field of hip-hop, foregoing the traditional image and sound of a hip-hop artist to play around with various styles throughout his career. From his breakout album Barter 6 to his hit album Jeffery, Young Thug has experimented with a plethora of voices and producers and collaborated with everyone from 21 Savage to Elton John. One of the most surprising moments of his career, however, was when he released the acoustic guitar-driven album Beautiful Thugger Girls. This album stood in stark contrast to everything else he had done in the past and was a dramatic shift in style; it drew the risk of alienating diehard hip-hop fans. It was on this album that Young Thug used one of the most unexpected samples of his career, the indie-folk classic “First Day of My Life” by Bright Eyes, on his song “Me Or Us.”
“First Day of My Life” is a sad song, driven solely by an acoustic guitar and Bright Eyes frontman Conor Oberst’s emotion-ridden voice. Young Thug samples the guitar piece from this song, rerecording it and singing/rapping over it with added bass. While this is an unexpected sample, what is even more unexpected is how little Young Thug changes about it. One might expect intense beats or other obtrusive additions, but Thug shows restraint and focuses on vocalizing over the sample. If you were unfamiliar with the music Young Thug usually makes, you might mistake him for an indie rocker on “Me Or Us.”
Despite the similarities between “Me Or Us” and “First Day of My Life,” Young Thug brings his own style through his signature singsongy croon and sometimes-incomprehensible mumble. He shows his soft side, and, through a huge dynamic range, injects emotion into the song. Although it’s a stark contrast from what he normally does, “Me Or Us” shows the diversity of Young Thug’s artistic repertoire. It’s a breath of fresh air to see a hip-hop artist try something new when much of the hip-hop community is centered around big beats and copious ad-libs. While “Me Or Us” may not be Young Thug’s most popular song, it is certainly one of his most interesting ones, and the “First Day of My Life” sample shows the wide range of influences that Young Thug puts into his music.