So far, 2021 has been somewhat of a slower year for new music, at least as far as hip-hop and trap are concerned. While it seemed that the drought would never end, Young Thug finally delivered the long-promised “Slime Language 2” this Friday, a follow up to 2018’s “Slime Language.” The “Slime Language” series are not solo Thugger projects but are a showcase of his label Young Stoner Life (YSL) Records and its signees. Most prominently featured on “Slime Language 2” are Young Thug himself and his right-hand man Gunna, who have a long history of amazing chemistry together. Other YSL members like T-Shyne, Lil Keed, Karlae, Thug’s sisters Dolly White & HiDoraah, Strick, Lil Duke, Yak Gotti and Yung Kayo also appear throughout the record. It would also be a crime to not mention Wheezy, the talented producer responsible for so many of YSL’s hits, who produced 7 of the 23 songs on “Slime Language 2.”

Of course, the album also has plenty of featured guests, which makes sense as Young Thug seems to be one of the most well-liked figures in rap. Longtime friends of YSL like Lil Uzi Vert, Travis Scott, Drake, Lil Baby, Future and NAV all drop guest verses, and there are even some surprise features like Big Sean and Kid Cudi. There is going to be something for everybody on “Slime Language 2,” and that seems to be what Young Thug was aiming for. The cover of the album is the YSL roster taking a family photo, and nothing is more fitting. While the album does feature songs about the classic trap topics of drugs, guns and money, is really about the YSL family and how proud Young Thug is of everyone around him, and how proud they are of him.

No song captures this theme more than the aptly titled “Proud of You,” a song that many Lil Uzi Vert fans have eagerly been anticipating since he played it on Instagram Live in 2018. “Proud of You” was already a cult classic, and finally hearing the lovely “I was talkin’ to Thug, he said / ‘Uzi I am proud of you’ / I said ‘Slime I’m proud of you’” chorus in full studio-quality after three years is beyond gratifying. The trippy, spacey beat from Bugz Ronin and the lyrics about supporting your friends make this a really unique track and will hopefully start a trend of more uplifting friendship trap songs.

The best track on “Slime Language 2” is “Diamonds Dancing,” which features the most impressive Travis Scott verse since “ASTROWORLD” came out 3 years ago. It seems like Travis has finally found a perfect balance between his grittier natural voice and his trademark wavy auto-tuned vocals, blending them together and switching back and forth effortlessly. Young Thug and Gunna also deliver amazing verses, and their harmonizing at the end is nothing short of beautiful. Their chemistry is on display even more on “Ski,” the song which seems most poised to become a hit. Wheezy delivers an absolutely insane beat, with trippy psychedelic sounds layered perfectly behind the lead strings, and hard-hitting drums tie it all together. Thugger and Gunna make perfect use of this instrumental, with hypnotic flows, a fun back-and-forth and a surreal chorus that exclusively consists of adlibs.

The most surprisingly impressive song is “Warrior,” where Lil Keed and T-Shyne show that they are just as talented as their more famous labelmates. Taking a page from Lil Uzi Vert’s book, the chorus is mostly just Lil Keed repeating the word “warrior” over and over again, but when it comes to trap lyrics, sometimes less is more. Big Sean ties the track together with a solid feature, thankfully mostly devoid of his usual corniness. Any review of the album would be incomplete without mentioning “Came Out,” a great song with Gunna and Lil Keed. While their performances are impressive, the real star of the track is the beat. If instrumentals were paintings, the instrumental to “Came Out” would be front and center in the Louvre. Wheezy combines skeletal percussion with whistling, accordions and a knocking drumbeat, and unlike most trap beats these days, it evolves and changes throughout the song. “Slime Language 2” as a whole shows that Wheezy has mastered his craft, and he is just as important to the label’s sound as any of the rappers.

The album does have a few duds of course, which is to be expected with a compilation tape with this many tracks. The album’s second single “GFU” is very grating, and Yak Gotti’s hook is almost impossible to listen to. There is no chemistry between any of the three artists on this song, and it’s mind-blowing that this song was chosen as a single, let alone the fact that it made the cut for the album. “Reckless” is a shorter track from Dolly White, and while this is nowhere near as bad as “GFU,” it’s just super uninteresting and not really worth coming back to. “Superstar” features a great Young Thug verse, but Future’s hook is so ridiculous that the song can’t be taken seriously at all. “Everybody wanna be a superstar / Get a lot of money, drive fancy cars” sounds like something out of a Disney Channel theme song, and Future’s delivery is shaky and overall, just not up to par when compared to the other excellent Thug & Future tracks.

Young Thug has spent nearly a decade in the rap scene, and he initially was met with rejection and ridicule for his strange flows, feminine style and weird lyrics. Rather than giving up, he pushed forward, breaking down boundaries in hip-hop and allowing for the rise of the Lil Uzi Verts and Lil Yachtys of the 2010s. He built an empire with YSL as he went and did nothing but support and praise those around him while he was doing it. “Slime Language 2” is the result of all of that hard work, a close family of talented rappers all coming together to show their appreciation for what they’re a part of. Instead of just filling “Slime Language 2” with famous names, Young Thug made sure to include some newer names in YSL right along with them. The love that everyone around him has for each other shines all throughout the album. While there are a few misses, that’s totally forgivable when it’s only two or three tracks out of 23, and they are more than compensated for by how great the other songs are. “Slime Language 2” is not only musically excellent, but is a victory lap for Young Thug and all his friends, and they have every right to be proud of everything they’ve accomplished.