Young Thug’s album art did exactly what album art is supposed to do: get people talking. His new mixtape, Jeffery, is doing the same thing. What all of these conversations are pointing to is that a new era has begun for the Atlanta rapper, and it feels like perfect timing. Young Thug is taking it back to his “real self.”
Today (Aug. 26) as die-hard fans and those curious alike digest their first couple of listens of the nine-track offering, it’s becoming clear that this version of Young Thug is here to stay. If the feedback so far is any indication, the rapper’s decision to re-brand himself was more wise than it was a risk.
“I didn’t want my kids to grow up and call me ‘Thug,’” he explained to an exclusive crowd at his Lyor Cohen-hosted album listening party in New York City last night. “The reason why I moved from Young Thug to Jeffery is I feel like I had a long term relationship with Young Thug, and well, I’m kind of picky. I didn’t want to be in front of Bill Gates or Oprah Winfrey as Young Thug.”
Addressing those who gathered in support of his new project, he elaborated further that while he despises his government name, it is who he is and he is more than ready to put Thug behind him.
“In the real world, thug is thug, thuggy, thuggin’, you know what I mean,” he says. “I don’t want to make that impression. I don’t want people to look at me like that. I hate my real name. F**k that name. That’s the worstest name in the world but it is my name.”
In a rare-form Q+A with the prestigious music executive, the rapper shared some advice for aspiring rappers, expressing passionately that perseverance and hard work is what brought him to where he is today. As Cohen reminded the audience that Jeffery has built his fan base one fan at a time through his music, the rapper shared that there were plenty of times where he seriously considered quitting.
“I have a trillion pieces of advice,” he said while laughing and landing on which gem of wisdom he was next to share. “First, you gotta keep working and never stop,” he said.
“When I was younger, I was a little bad boy, a little hot headed, but I always rapped. I went to the studio every day from the day I started rapping seriously to today,” he explains. “I go to the studio every day. That’s the first thing. You have to work.
“There were a lot of times when I was like, f**k all this, but one of the little cells in my brain was like, ‘yo, fall back,’” the rapper admitted to the crowd. “You can not rap for 20 years and then rap 20 years from now and you’ll still be serious about it. I had a strong, strong, strong thought of quitting. I was still thinking about quitting but I still went to the studio every day and it ended up just mentally being rough. So keep working on little stuff no matter what. F**k that s**t. Keep rapping.”
While entertaining questions from attendees, such as being asked who his biggest influence in fashion is right now and teasing a forthcoming tour, the rapper was often drowned out by cheers, as people from around the globe watched through YouTube’s live stream.
“Jeffery will stay around until eternity,” he said, reassuring that this is more than trying to sell 100,000 copies of his new mixtape. “I’m throwing away Young Thug, I’m renewing Jeffery, who I really am.”
In a room filled with rap nerds, hipsters and key players from the music industry, Jeffery said he's finally, exactly, where he wants to be with his career, with his album art projected behind him an intriguing expression of who he is evolving into as an artist arguably ahead of his time. No stranger to harsh criticism, it’s interesting to watch as those who were once harsh on the rapper for his boldness are finally starting to see his vision.
Stream Jeffery and get to know Young Thug 2.0 for yourself below.
(Photo: Johnny Nunez/WireImage)