Regardless of your thoughts on the polarizing hip-hop artist known as Young Thug, you can’t front on the fact that the guy knows how to make people talk. Whether he’s drumming up controversy via his wardrobe, feuds with other rappers, or just his unorthodox musical style in general, Thugger effectively keeps his name in hip-hop headlines. There’s a whole new topic of discussion relating to the new video for his track “For My People” off his I’m Up project, though; judging by the imagery, it seems as if the Atlanta-born rapper is taking on a more militant vibe than ever before.
Like most Young Thug music videos, the clip is directed by Be El Be, and is shot without any expensive special effects. Other than throwing around some flares emitting colorful smoke and some overheard drone shots, there’s nothing visually crazy going on here. But what is worthy of discussion if the constant theme of militant mobilization which seems to coincide with the #BlackLivesMatter movement.
Aside from the hook’s repetition of “I put it down for my people, ready to die for my people“, the track is far from socially conscious, as the verses revolve around Thug’s usual subject matter, consisting of getting money, fucking attractive women, and sipping lean (or “muddy” as it’s called here). Also, like most Thug records, “For My People” is bouncy, catchy as hell and generally a lot of fun to listen to. However, it is the small army of entirely African-American men and women marching behind Thug throughout the whole video, clad in all black clothing, that recalls imagery of #BlackLivesMatter protestors, as well as the Black Panthers; they raise proud Black Power fists in numerous shots.
Could it be that Thug and his camp may just be capitalizing on the hype surrounding Beyonce’s Super Bowl halftime performance and its alleged Black Panthers connection? Of course. But here we are discussing it, so mission accomplished. While the lyrics don’t delve into social issues, the visuals emanate a sense of militance, some of the extras even carrying assault rifles. Young Thug has always been an artist who values visual aesthetics, so perhaps he’s sending his message to mobilize ‘his people’, as he puts it, via a music video rather than the music itself. After all, in a viral interview video from 2014, when asked if it’s a hip-hop artist’s place to speak on social issues, Thugger responded with a resounding “no”.
But, in a typically contradictory move, Thug rapped “R.I.P. Mike Brown, fuck the cops” on “OD” from his Barter 6 album. Still, it’s very doubtful that Thugger will ever become a ‘socially conscious’ rapper, a la Talib Kweli, Immortal Technique or, most relevantly, Kendrick Lamar. But it seems that here and there, whether in a random bar or through his visuals, he will still be letting us know how he feels about what’s going on, albeit not in a straightforward, ‘in your face’ sort of way. Either way, this shit bumps, so I’m gonna run it back again in the meantime.