Ubiquitous Hip Hop Innovator Young Thug's "Justin Bieber Big" (?) Tour Rolls Through Riverbend's PNC Pavilion

The Grammy-winning rapper's co-headlining jaunt with Machine Gun Kelly comes to Cincinnati on Tuesday, Oct. 8

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click to enlarge Young Thug - Photo: Nikko Lamere
Photo: Nikko Lamere
Young Thug

In the past decade, Hip Hop artist Young Thug has become one of the most ubiquitous figures in popular music. That’s not just through the success of his own mixtapes and albums, including his first No. 1 — the recently released So Much Fun — or his status as a go-to collaborator to the stars (recent pairings have included Ed Sheeran and Post Malone). His sonic fingerprint is hard to underestimate — his unique style, tics and phrasings have become a part of the fabric of Hip Hop circa 2019. The New York Times recently called Young Thug “one of the most innovative — and most emulated — hip-hop artists of the 2010s.”

A guiding light of Atlanta’s rich and abundant music scene, Young Thug got his start at the beginning of the ’10s by releasing a series of mixtapes that caught the ear of Gucci Mane, who signed him to his Atlantic Records-distributed 1017 Brick Squad Records. Thug’s 1017 Thug mixtape broke big in 2013 and earned rave reviews from high-profile critics and media outlets. Since then, Thug (who now records for Atlantic Records proper) has released a steady stream of similarly acclaimed and commercially successful mixtapes, as well as a non-stop string of cameos and collaborations. His work can be heard on a pair of No. 1 singles — Camila Cabello’s 2017 hit “Havana” and Childish Gambino’s “This Is America,” which earned Thug his first Grammy when it won Song of the Year honors in February.

Young Thug’s influence is especially easy to spot given his decidedly eccentric creative and personal nature, evident in everything from his singular “adlibs” — those remarkably musical and rhythmic vocal outbursts and blips that thread through everything he does — to the sometimes befuddling and absurdist humor that shines through in his Twitter posts (“no homo we smokin penises!!!” remains an all-time head-scratcher).

Like the current President (Old Thug?), Young Thug occasionally issues edicts by tweet, though his are far more entertaining/less terrifying. Last year he announced on Twitter that he’d changed his name to SEX (this has not seemed to have stuck) and more recently he proclaimed (sans rationale) his current tour with Machine Gun Kelly the “Justin Bieber Big” tour, which may have a better chance of sticking — Young Thug recently posted an Instagram photo of him wearing a “Justin Bieber Big” tour hoody.

Young Thug and Machine Gun Kelly — along with YBN Nahmir and Strick — come to Riverbend's PNC Pavilion on Tuesday, Oct. 8. Tickets/more info: riverbend.org.

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