Dreams of a Rolls Royce: Young Thug Pays Tribute on “MLK”

Evan Nabavian takes a look at Young Thug's predictably great single, "MLK."
By    April 10, 2018

Evan Nabavian’s Lambo is green.

I usually hate rap songs like this. A rapper steps out of his lane to make a preening socially conscious song to appease a bloviating cable TV pundit or a disapproving grandmother. Nas made “I Can” to answer Bill O’Reilly, but it’s less effective and less meaningful than a pulp crime drama like “Blaze a 50.” People who like “I Can” are people who used to ask the teacher for extra homework. “My President” sucks, too. Sorry. Rap-as-after-school-special almost never works. But Young Thug reliably breaks the rules with his nominal tribute to Martin Luther King Jr.

Thugger is as mercurial as ever, skipping octaves and melodies with indecent abandon. He flits between fashion week, adderall binges, joyrides in foreign (and American) cars, and anonymous sex—all of it seamless. For better or worse, he assigns this freedom to the late civil rights leader. But Young Thug doesn’t forsake poignancy for capriciousness. He just doesn’t switch modes when he wonders what would happen if his deaf brother ran afoul of the police. Thugger doesn’t lecture and he doesn’t call in a verse from a “serious” rapper, which is how every other post-2000 rapper uses Nas (and increasingly, Kendrick). Powerful songs don’t use positivity as a gimmick and gimmicks are anathema to Young Thug.