Young Thug and Gucci Mane recently released a mixtape, Young Thugga Mane La Flare, which is cool because it’s kind of like two of rap’s wackiest characters came together in an episode of the 60s-acid-dream children’s show “H.R. Pufnstuf” and dipped it in lean. In other words, Young Thugga Mane La Flare is weird.
You may know Young Thug from his recent Black Portland mixtape with Bloody Jay, which, as far as my brain is concerned, is one of 2014's best mixtapes so far. The tape with Gucci is both a surprise and not a surprise. They’ve done stuff together before and Thug is signed to Gucci’s 1017 Brick Squad imprint, but he also signed to Young Money (apparently?) after Gucci went to prison…and, well, Gucci Mane is still in prison. That means many of these tracks were recorded at least a few months ago and some are completely Gucci-free. But Young Thug is the best part about Young Thugga Mane La Flare, anyway, and even better is the fact that sometimes Young Thug makes absolutely no sense.
Layne Ransom’s poetry chapbook “You Are The Meat” is not a collaboration, but it exists in the same sphere of unlikely voices creating an exciting amount of friction by attempting to function in the same space. The poems’ sense of hyper-self-awareness pervades every line in a way that renders the language nearly nonsensical. Fast food chains, romantic comedies, and Joyce Carol Oats all make an appearance among streams of self-conscious self-doubt. The chapbook is dedicated to Ransom’s “wolves,” who are, presumably, enthused by warped words during the nocturne.
Click here to view “You Are The Meat” in its entirety and follow along as we soundtrack it for you with choice cuts from Young Thugga Man La Flare.
An obvious ode to the “wolves,” this poem has Ransom narrating the empty spaces between conversations, (the seemingly insignificant), and what is not empty becomes indecipherable. “Our talk is all giddy gobbledigook but / leaving Ohio, we had no words / and I was trying not to smile / so big I’d break, scattering / my shrapnel past the combination / Dairy Queen KFC Long John Silver’s / into the grease-trap grave of the Midwest.” Here, the words aren’t as important as the context. The combination Dairy Queen KFC Long John Silver’s isn’t as important as the puddle of meat-grease on the floor.
Pair with: “OMG”
Though Young Thug’s wordiness is wrapped like a crumpled piece of aluminum foil around wet concrete phrases (read: it makes no sense), in nearly every song “OMG” carries a particularly warped sense of nothingness, featuring lines like, “It smell good, I’ma put it on my lip / Treat me like a baby, let me put it on your hip.”
This is the shortest poem in the chapbook and the one with the greatest sense of movement. Ransom molds his verses so that the words shuffle and skid, mimicking his form with words. “My polygon edges stab out from blankets / fluttering in breezes from a new place.” The line break forces the reader to straddle a sharp-edged shape and a breezy wind and hold the position.
Pair with: “Out My Biz”
With eyes half-shut, Gucci Mane tumbles out lines like, “Bitch looking like a whale / Where’s my hat / Bout to go fish” in a voice like Dr. Seuss after a day-mare. Ransom’s prose might use a polygon to achieve its image, but Gucci uses a whale, which Herman Melville knows, is the only truly poetic metaphor.
“Achievement” serves up a sense of isolation in the face of accomplishment. “Today in the grocery store: / a pang of loneliness upon seeing a frozen package / of stir-fry for two.” Mundane tasks present the loneliest moments. You see your reflection in the aisle of the frozen food aisle and your face in already tear-stained.
Pair with: “Need”
Gucci raps, “I got more cars than I need / I got more broads than I need” in the monotone cadence of someone disconnected from the things closest to him, or at least the things most readily available. He not only sounds bored with his possessions, but like he’s finding it hard to even remember what they are.
“My Shoes Were Made In India”
This is a poem of phrases that should appear on corporate-sponsored reality show on which people battle for brand knowledge. Like The Price Is Right but with bedazzled crop tops instead of canned peas. “Tonight I rode here in a machine / that eats dinosaur corpses to live. / Katy Perry belts it out on the Top 40 station / in Hunan Buffet, come on let your colors burst.”
Pair with: “Took By A Bitch”
Thug’s cadence wavers so close to off-the-cliff falsetto that you’ll be too distracted to realize you have no idea what’s going on.
“How Was Your Day?”
Jennifer Garner and Mark Ruffalo make an appearance in this poem. Ransom starts talking about pre-teen rom-com 13 Going On 30 and that paves the way for other oddities like fruit-related puns, Bono, almond milk and abortions. It’s both extremely normal and a complete brain-flush.
Pair with: “Siblings”
This is the most amazing song on the mixtape. Young Thug repeats the chorus “Baby, where your siblings? Where your sister at? / Bro, I want your siblings / Where your cousins at?” It’s the equivalent of asking how your day was on a blind date, except there’s a much higher chance you won’t get a second date.