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The Atlanta icon’s latest album has the spirit of a posthumous release, cobbled together in honour of the #FreeThug movement.

Young Thug’s inspired a whole generation of modern music. What was one considered absurdly trash is now a heavily popular subgenre within hip hop. It’s great that Thug gets his flowers, all while remaining active with material. That activity was seemingly put on hold when Thug found himself at the centre of the YSL RICO case in 2022. His career was put on the sidelines as the feds came knocking, losing time and affiliates along the way. At no command, Thug’s released an album while he battles for freedom.

Thug’s incarceration predictably impacts the quality of Business Is Business, its curators acting as adversaries combing through the vaults for passable material.

Business Is Business has the essence of a posthumous record, despite Thug being alive and able to dictate direction. Plenty songs on the album were recorded years ago, cobbled together for a half-hearted release that serves no real purpose for Thug or his legacy. While fans will always welcome new music from their favourite artists, there’s plenty of projects available in Thugger’s lengthy catalogue to enjoy in the meantime. Fans are subjected to songs that sound like So Much Fun and Punk leftovers (“Money on the Dresser”, “Global Access”). Nothing fresh comes out the tracklist of Business Is Business.

We’re also subjected to the same merry-go-round of features for a mainstream rap album. Drake, 21 Savage, Travis Scott, Future and Lil Uzi Vert show their solidarity with the YSL boss by dropping an appearance, three of which show up more than once. It’s beyond stale at this point, adding onto the aforementioned sentiment that nothing fresh comes out the tracklist.

At times, Business Is Business shows what it can be capable of. The album peaks with “Jonesboro”, a statement track hitting the heartfelt aura you’d predict from an album contextualised around Thug’s unfortunate incarceration. “Mad Dog” grabs attention through its sticky hook and Metro Boomin production. “Parade on Cleveland” sets a moody, dark tone fitting for the album, while “Hoodie” is the closest we get to mixtape Thug. Though even these tracks prove why they were recorded and kept in the vault.

A few days after release, executive producer Metro Boomin rolled out an edition called ‘Metro’s Version’, featuring two more tracks and alternate sequencing. Its existence proves the album has a hard time creating the right flow. It does improve on the original sequencing, moving highlights “Jonesboro” and “Mad Dog” right to the top of the billing. But other points show flaws that can’t be avoided due to the poor selection of tracks in the first place. 

It’s not as if Business Is Business is needed to keep Young Thug relevant. An artist like Thug will always be relevant, which makes the album’s existence even more puzzling. It’s a half-hearted project cobbled together to honour the  movement. We’ve heard the ATLien in much better zones than this.

5 / 10

Best tracks: “Jonesboro”, “Parade on Cleveland”, “Oh U Went”