Getting stuck in a cultural rut is something that many people, if they are being honest with themselves, can relate to. People have a general tendency to stick with things that they feel comfortable with. I have found myself in similar situations in the past, where I find myself consuming a lot of the same media for the sake of comfort. The excerpt from the radio segment did a good job of helping me realize that I am currently in a cultural rut. I feel that I am actually experiencing this rut in two aspects of my life: music and food. The comfort of familiarity is almost too much to resist. There is also the fear of the “unknown”. People, myself included, often find themselves not wanting to try a new thing for fear that they might not enjoy it. It so important to step of these cultural ruts though, in order to expose yourself to different types of media consumption and expand your understanding of the world.
My chosen piece of popular culture for this assignment is an artist named Young Thug. Young Thug is the moniker of Jeffrey Williams, a hip-hop artist who has become very popular in the past year. Young Thug is an artist that I have heard about but have vehemently refused to listen to because of the content of his music. I am not a big fan of hip-hop, because it is often vapid, misogynistic, and braggadocios. I occasionally enjoy listening to hip-hop that has depth and meaning, such as that produced by artists like Kendrick Lamar & J. Cole. In order to get a good understanding of Young Thug, I thought it would only be fair if I listened to one of his projects all the way through. I chose to listen to his mixtape titled “Slime Season 2”. This mixtape is around an hour long, which I thought would be a good amount of content to expose myself to in order to form an opinion on him.
I have to admit, Young Thug’s “Slime Season 2” is not at all what I expected. I went into it not expecting much at all to be quite honest. Even listening to the first song on the project, I was extremely tempted to turn it off and make my assignment about something else because I did not think that I could endure listening to the entire thing. I chose to continue listening and a couple of songs in I was pleasantly surprised by his song “Hey, I”.
This song seems like Thug’s version of a love ballad. I was not expecting this kind of song from Young Thug at all because I had the perception that he only made “turn up” music, that is, music that only sounds good when played at full volume and is meant to be played at parties and things of that nature. The mixtape made me conflicted. I wanted to hate it but at the same time, I could not help but bop my head in unison with many of the songs. There were a lot of songs where I could not understand the lyrics but still found myself enjoying the song. This confused me, but I did not question it. I don’t know if this type of music was made for someone like me because I’m not entirely sure who it was made for. The part that I was surprised by the most was that after I listened to the mixtape, which I initially thought I wouldn’t be able to listen to all the way through, I found myself wanting to listen to more Young Thug! If I learned anything from listening to this, it is that you can enjoy music without necessarily understanding the lyrics.
Although, it is true that you can enjoy music without understanding the lyrics, you cannot fully analyze and comprehend it without knowing what the artist is saying. I found myself having to go back to my favorite songs off this project and looking up the lyrics in order to grasp the message that Young Thug is getting across.
After searching the lyrics of the songs in order to understand them better, I found a couple of themes that repeated throughout the project. The most apparent theme was the one that I expected going into this. Throughout Slime Season 2, Young Thug brags about his many sexual conquests, his nice cars, and other materialistic things that you would normally expect from rap music. This aspect of his music is what turned me off to him and artists like him. The other theme, which is not so apparent, is very interesting and made me more curious about his music. It seem that Thug has a duality to him. One half of his songs mention having many girls at his disposal, the other ones talk about his infatuation for one girl, which I later found out is referring to his real life fiancé.
This is really interesting to me because he dedicates a lot of time into constructing this image of himself as being indifferent to love and having no feelings towards women but then at the same contradicts himself and confesses his love and his need to be loved. This contradiction might even happen in the same song, for example on the song “I’ll Tell You What”, where he says he “made an appointment to get this [girl] out of [his] head” and then in the next line states that he has “all five of her friends inside of one bed”. This self-contradiction initially confused and upset me but after thinking about it, to my surprise, I found myself relating to this in ways that I did not think I was capable of. There are times when I feel inner-conflict or I act in ways that seem irrational to others but make sense to myself.
Pop Culture Happy Hour: Repurposing ‘The Simpsons’ And Busting Out Of A Rut. (n.d.). Retrieved September 13, 2016, from http://www.npr.org/sections/monkeysee/2014/09/05/346055621/pop-culture-happy-hour-repurposing-the-simpsons-and-busting-out-of-a-rut
Young Thug. (2015). Slime Season 2 [MP3]. Multiple producers.
Young Thug. (n.d.). Retrieved September 13, 2016, from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Young_Thug