2008_poor_boys_game_004Adam Wray is starring in a reboot of Lethal Weapon.

We love to compare rap to sports – it’s a cheap but effective rhetorical device. That said: Young Thug is on his vintage Pedro Martinez this year, establishing dominance with boundless style and ruthless efficiency. 1017 Thug, his first release under the Brick Squad umbrella, is one of this year’s finest mixtapes, and the string of loosies and features he’s rolled out since have done nothing to interrupt his momentum.

His latest, “Danny Glover,” showcases much of what makes him such an exciting talent. As Guru once said, it’s mostly the voice, and Thugga’s got golden pipes. Here, he flits between an expressive caterwaul on the hook and lithe, staccato double-time flows on the verses. The hook is typically infectious and anthemic – you’ll find yourself wailing “twoooooo bitches!!” along with Thugga by the second time it comes around. 808 Mafia’s beat largely stays out of the way, offering a bruising low-end, a droning, three-note synth line, and plenty of room for Young Thug to work.

It’s been a particularly good year for Atlanta rap, and Thugga’s a major reason why. He’s part of a cohort – along with Future, Quan, and others – making earnest, open music that’s easy to connect with. Hopefully, he and his peers will continue pushing each other forward in 2014.

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