EP Review: Young Thug’s On The Rvn
Atlanta Rapper Returns from Arrest with a Return to Form
It has been an eventful year for Young Thug. After releasing a short EP in April, Thugger spent the summer teasing the “compilation album” Slime Language, a fifteen-track project. Executive produced by Wheezy and London on da Track, and featuring artists like Lil Duke, Lil Uzi Vert, and Gunna, Slime Language was released in August to mixed reviews. While Pitchfork praised the album for being “cheerful,” others thought the album was a mixed bag, unfocused and oversaturated with other artists. Then, in early September, Young Thug turned himself in to Georgia authorities after being charged for drug and firearm possession. Before he turned himself in he arranged a short EP to be released while he was in jail, tweeting out to his followers “While I’m down…‘ON THE RVN.’” Thug released On The Rvn later that September.
On The Rvn is a short six-track EP where we see Young Thug in his prime, rapping and crooning over upbeat hi-hat laden instrumentals. Many fans and critics alike praise the EP for fixing many of the issues August’s Slime Language suffered from, with every feature complimenting Thug’s unique style. Each track is distinct and well-produced, and the EP doesn’t feel bloated or oversaturated at any moment.
The EP begins with the titular “On The Rvn,” featuring a colorful instrumental with lurching 808s that weave in and out with a very faint and reverb-heavy siren. Produced by London on da Track, the track’s light piano arrangement, hi-hats, and occasional woodwinds overall contribute to a very clean and neat song. Although the instrumental isn’t taking any serious risks, the safe nature of the beat allows the listener to focus more on Thugger, who kicks the EP off with a myriad of light-hearted lyrics. It is on this track that Thug inspires the listener with poetic phrases like “Okay, pattycake, baguettes, the karats, no carrot cake / For God's sake, stack up your racks, put it all away” or “Hop off the jet we was nine deep / It was a 16 passenger seat.”
The next two tracks are a bit slower and more singing-oriented. “Icey” features Thugger crooning “Oooooh” over almost the entire song, with the instrumental featuring a strange string sample played over two different piano tracks and drums. The song doesn’t do much to stand out on this EP, but it is still a decent Young Thug song nonetheless. The following track “Climax” features 6LACK (not pronounced as six-lack), where London on Da Track constructs a beat out of a vocal melody sung by the mysterious Instagram artist Shiloh, some trap-esque drums and an acoustic guitar track. This isn’t the first song that Shiloh’s vocals have been used on: last year’s 17 by domestic abuser and rapper XXXTentacion was full of rough cuts that were carried almost exclusively by Shiloh’s vocal samples. 6LACK’s vocals are surprisingly well-placed on the track, as the eerie and slightly ambient feeling of the track really makes 6LACK and Thug shine.
Up next is “Sin,” one of the most entertaining bangers that Young Thug and company have churned out this year. “Sin” features a long and extensive hook and verse from Jaden Smith, an artist who continues to impress both Thug and hip-hop fans alike. The track is composed similarly to the other instrumentals on the EP. Thug and Smith have an undeniably chemistry and unexplainable swagger that make you want to add “Sin” to your daily rotation. Maybe it’s just me, but I could listen to Young Thug and Jaden Smith rap about Chanel and Gucci all day.
Following “Sin” is “Real in my Veins” featuring T-Shyne, and while Thugger delivers a very moving and impressive set of verses over an atmospheric banger of a beat, the song mainly serves as a transition into the final song “High” featuring none other than Elton John. This track features a “Rocketman” sample with Elton John and Thug both singing “I’m a Rocket Man” over the chorus. The instrumental is incredibly strange, featuring minimal piano chords in the back and a drum machine track with steady industrial noises and kicks that give one the impression that they are cowboys surveying the high plains with Elton John and Young Thug. Fans of Thug have known about Elton John’s endorsement of him for years, especially after Elton John compared Thugger to John Lennon. Never did anyone think they would ever collaborate, and yet this song exists. It’s a beautiful and almost intoxicatingly saccharine track that finds relevance as both a meme and a solid piece of music.
On The Rvn delivers on many of the areas that most felt that Slime Language was lacking. On this short and sweet EP, it is almost as if Young Thug is hosting a dinner party for a diverse assortment of guests catered by London on Da Track and his other producers. At only six tracks long, fans will be left satisfied with plenty of new Young Thug music to help them usher in the new year. Since the release of On The Rvn, Thug was released from jail and is currently at work on Barter 7, the highly anticipated sequel to his magnum-opus Barter 6. Whenever Thugger plans to treat the world to more of his music, there will always be hordes of his fans anxious to listen to whatever comes next.