It’s ironic that a rapper named Young Thug—an almost comically unimaginative alias that on its face evokes the laziest stereotypes about rappers and their glorified street mentality, reveling in a heartless world of wanton violence and not much else—would actually be the current hip-hop artist most dedicated to to the ideals of romantic love and affection. The most prolific, anarchic, and innovative rapper doing it has both a mouth (though he did buy a new set of pearly whites recently) and a heart of gold.
Of course, that’s all still filtered through the looking-through-a-kaleidoscope-on-acid-while-riding-a-rollercoaster vision of Young Thug, so his manifestations of treacly sweetness are still plenty surreal. Case in point is “Worth It,” off Thugger’s newest, uniformly excellent tape, Slime Season 3. Released on Valentine’s Day (see, told you he was a sweetie!), the video depicts him and his real-life fiancé lovingly doting on each other:
Just look at how delicately Thug—dressed like a hip-hop Clint Eastwood circa A Fistful of Dollars with his poncho and hat, replacing the traditional gun hanging off his hip with a plush panda doll—twirls Jerrika as they sway in the park:
And the way they wrestle around beneath the sheets:
And how playful they are, joking around in their apartment, splattering paint on each other before drawing a big heart with their names inside it:
Lyrically, he comes with the hilarious imagery we’ve come to expect from Sex-Talking Thug. Examples:
* “I whip that pussy with no bowl, it’s jumping up, lil nigga.”
* “I’mma sit back and pay attention like school on you / Yeah, I’mma shoot inside that pussy like a hooli on you / Goddamn, I’m sorry, B.”
* “She get on top and ride it, Kentucky Derby”
But there are also very sincere moments where he works through his emotions quite literally. He expresses that he’d never want to “snooze and lose” her. He declares that he loves just having her around. He swears off the groupies (whom he may or may not have slipped up with before, causing a brief breakup, which he acknowledges at another point by noting how torn up he was about breaking her heart). He mentions that he’s drinking lean less, likely at her behest. He marvels at how he much he’s learned from the relationship. And we marvel, too.
The most fascinating parts, though, are when he admits how scary it is for him to actually be vulnerable with someone; when, despite the safeguards he’s erected to protect himself, he finally feels comfortable showing her his true self:
I keep my heart locked up in a safe, hey
Can’t shoot with a pistol, need a K
No, you can’t see it, it’s attracted by your face
But when it need air, air it out in a safe li’l place
(As an aside, you might be thinking to yourself that Drake is actually the most lovey-dovey rapper out. I disagree. The intention of Drake’s and Thug’s respective experiences with love are completely different. Drake makes songs talking about love from a narcissistic perspective, either a) completely centered on the relationship as a step along his own, winding, self-engrossed personal journey; or b) as a very obvious attempt to position himself as the main character in the mind of the object of his affections. Thug, on the other hand, has a simpler and healthier motivation, legitimately noting how his relationships have changed him, while also keeping the woman’s perspective in mind, earnest in his desire for her to get something out of it. Drake raps about all the stuff he does for the girl during sex so that women perceive him as a good fuck. Thug does it because it’s fun to have sex, and even more so when the woman is having fun, too.)
While “Worth It” is especially revealing in certain ways, it’s not at all an outlier in Young Thug’s vast catalogue. Songs like “Beast,” “Hey I,” “Calling Your Name,” “Tell Em (Lies),” “Because of Me,” “Scared of You,” “Miss U,”—I mean, I could keep going—demonstrate just how inspirational he finds the act of loving another person, and, maybe even more importantly, how unashamed he is about it.
If only all rappers were as progressive as Young Thug.
Photo via Getty