Every rap fan has dreamed it: “What if ______ and ______ made an album together?” But there’s something about the idea of the collab album that just reeks of disappointment. After years of rumors and teases, that Kendrick Lamar/J. Cole mixtape might never drop. The same can be said for the Chance the Rapper/Childish Gambino tape, though Donald Glover took a moment after the Emmys last month to address his rap alter ego, “If I don’t make a Chance the Rapper mixtape… I feel like some 14 year olds are gonna kick my ass.” Rarely these days do two rap titans link up at the top of their game and create something cohesive, living up to that insurmountable hype. To find that, you’d have to go back to 2011 and JAY-Z and Kanye’s “Watch the Throne,” an album about two incredibly talented people enjoying incredibly expensive shit.
In that sense, the surprise mixtape from Future and Young Thug, “SUPER SLIMEY,” has a lot in common with “Watch the Throne.” The two Atlantans are a logical combo, both proud and established leaders of their genre with no signs of slowing down. The two don’t have quite the discography of JAY-Z and Kanye six years ago, but they definitely have the raw success (and money) to back themselves up.
Future’s signature brand of agile flows and explosive beats has made him the most profitable man in trap rap. He’s dropped two number one albums just this year. But while Future has spawned as many imitators as album sales, Young Thug is trap’s incomparable counterpart. Thugger’s verses on a slew of mixtapes as well as the critically acclaimed “JEFFERY” carry the same intensity as Future’s, but his tendencies toward island rhythms and guitar-backed crooning make an unlikely, inimitable combination. At the moment, Future and Thug might be at the top of their genre, but their success stitches them together more than the music itself.
It’s no surprise that the best moments on “SUPER SLIMEY” come when Future and Thug find common ground in their shared affinities, namely zippy verses about diamonds, cars and fake friends. “Real Love” hits all three in full force. While Thug alternates between quick raps and R&B licks, Future repeats a soft but infectious, “I bet she love…” then builds off of the vibe with a melancholic verse of his own. On the more triumphant “Patek Water,” the duo brings aboard Offset, perhaps the only trap rapper more electrifying than the both of them. Thug and Offset zig zag through their verses brilliantly, as Future throws in a catchy hook over bouncy synths.
If anything, “Patek Water” proves that the best trap rap is communal, with multiple MCs building off of the energy of the others. It’s ironic then, that the track lands in the middle of two solo cuts from Thug and Future, respectively. The first is a gem from Young Thug; “Cruise Ship” features a snappy, conga-driven beat that could have been a worthy addition to “JEFFERY.” The bleak drone of Future’s track, “Feed Me Dope,” sounds like an expendable track from “HENDRXX” or “FUTURE” from months earlier.
These solo tracks hint at a divide, but the sonic gap between the two rappers is most evident in their failed attempts to bridge it. Thug’s piercing yelps sound out of place on the overblown “Three,” while the vacant beat of “All da Smoke” lacks the urgency to showcase either rapper’s abilities. Moreover, the album’s lowlights show how much “SUPER SLIMEY” depends on flashy, carefully crafted production to accommodate both rappers. While Metro Boomin came close to making Future and a trap-minded Drake sound like they fit together on “What a Time to Be Alive,” “SUPER SLIMEY” lacks the same focused instrumentation.?
Still, the moments where Future and Thug connect remind us of why this release was a trap fan’s dream in the first place. Though Future refutes his status as a “hitmaker,” his knack for catchy hooks and taglines shines throughout the project, while Thug comfortably fits into the box allotted to him. The uniformity of many of the tape’s collaborative tracks seems to bring Thug’s sporadic skill set back down to earth. Unfortunately for “SUPER SLIMEY,” it’s often unclear whether that’s always a good thing.