This Is an Emotional Heat Check: Young Thug

The Washington Post

Young Thug is a rapper who is cool now. The Game is a rapper who was cool a decade ago and then also for a couple of weeks in 2011 (when Kendrick Lamar said his name in a positive tone in a song). The two were e-fighting for a little bit recently because Young Thug and Lil Wayne (cool up through 2008, and then less and less cool every day since then) were mad at each other and The Game and Lil Wayne are friends and The Game took up for his friend on principle. The whole situation is this big, dumb thing that’s actually a small, dumb thing. I don’t want to talk about that (although I will again, briefly, later in this story). I want to talk about the Young Thug Emotional Heat Check.

Here’s the explanation that’s been used in each of the Emotional Heat Check columns thus far:

A heat check is (mostly) a basketball term. It’s used to reference a shot attempt, specifically a difficult one attempted after a handful of easier, wiser shots have been made. Think on it like this: You make a layup, then you make a wide-open midrange jumper, then you make a wide-open 3-pointer. That’s great. Those are smart shots. You’re feeling very good about yourself and all the decisions you’ve made in life that have led you to that point, so the next time down court you receive the ball and then chuck up a 29-foot fadeaway. That’s the heat check. You are literally checking to see if you are figuratively hot. If you make it, you shoot again. If that goes in, then you do it again. And again. And again. Until you miss. Each make becomes exponentially more exciting and intriguing and more of an accelerant.

That’s what this is, except it’s an emotional heat check instead of a basketball one, and instead of a basketball player it’s Young Thug, and instead of shot attempts it’s a thing Young Thug did. Here’s his chart:

young-thug-chart2Shea Serrano

He’s an impeccable shooter, it would seem.

At the Rim: 1/1, 100 percent

This was the time he apologized to The Game after making fun of him in an Instagram video, which just happened, which is why this story even exists. Apologies are very cool. Equally cool: apologizing in a way that when the person you’re apologizing to hears it, he or she isn’t all the way sure if you actually apologized or not. Here’s Thugger:

This is a master-class apology. He starts it out with an idea that is unexpected in the context of the conversation (“See, the way the world is set up, they want all blacks to kill each other”), which discombobulates the recipient, but the idea is also rooted in an impossible-to-argue-with premise (“Black lives matter”), so it immediately unifies all parties. Then he very plainly states admiration for The Game (“I salute Game, I respect him”) and then follows that by very plainly stating his apology (“I’m sorry for making that, um, post about him”), and that fosters a real sense of sincerity and likability. Then he undercuts all of it by asserting that The Game, while deserving of respect as a human, was philosophically wrong in this situation, and then finishes with side-eye flourish aimed at Lil Wayne without actually saying Lil Wayne’s name. I don’t know how anyone could ever even begin to say that Young Thug is not a top-tier intellectual.

Right Corner 3: 2/2, 100 percent

1. This is the time he said, “When the kids in town, tell ’em never use daddy’s dishes,” in “I Know It,” a song in which Thug spends a verse talking about a woman who has six children. There are two ways to interpret this:

The first interpretation is that Young Thug is very protective of his dishes, and this is something I can understand and appreciate because I have three sons and one time one of them asked me if he could get a cup from the cupboard and I told him yes and when he brought it back to me several minutes later it had a dead frog inside of it. I do all I can to never let any of my sons ever touch any of my stuff, especially things I drink out of and eat off of.

The second interpretation is that Young Thug used several of the dishes in the kitchen to prepare drugs, and so of course the children should not use those dishes. Young Thug is very considerate.

2. This is the time he was talking about his girl’s vagina in “Freestyle” and said that it was so [YOU KNOW] that “she gotta dry it outdoors,” which is probably a top-five genital-based brag of all time.

Left Corner 3: 1/1, 100 percent

This is the time after he wore that dress …

… and then that interviewer from asked him about it in a manner that felt a lot like he was offering Young Thug a chance to say it wasn’t a dress and Young Thug doubled down on it being a dress …

He talks about it with such an Of Course It Was A Dress, You Dummy confidence that I watched it like, “Wait a minute. Why don’t I own any dresses yet???”

Left Wing 3: 2/2, 100 percent

This 2/2 is probably actually closer to a 20/20, even maybe a 200/200, which are all of the times he’s posted a picture of himself with another man or just talked about another man and referred to him as #Bae or #Lover or #Hubby and so on. It’s always so dope. I really enjoy that Young Thug just existing makes some people uncomfortable. I enjoy even more that he does so without actively trying to do so. This needs to go in the Hall of Fame:

I don’t even care which Hall of Fame you put it in. Put it in all of them. Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, NFL Hall of Fame, NBA Hall of Fame, whatever. It’s an all-time move. My whole goal in life is to have friends who care about me like Young Thug cares about his. I want a friend who will not only sneak a beverage that requires multiple Styrofoam cups into a hospital, but will also hold a cup up to my mouth while I hold a cup up to his mouth, BUT WILL ALSO pose for a picture doing so. That’s the whole reason they did this. They’re very clearly not actually drinking like this. They did it just to do it, just to post the picture. We’re all going to look so dumb when Young Thug unzips his skin and Andy Kaufman steps out.

Right Wing 3: 2/2, 100 percent

This is the time he erased Lil Wayne from true relevancy forever by deciding to call his album Barter 6 while Wayne struggled to get Tha Carter V released. This counts as a double heat check. Young Thug is, without argument, the hyper-evolution of Lil Wayne’s very amazing Super Druggy Phase. That Thug would come through and eventually totally usurp Wayne — ALL THE WAY DOWN TO THE NAME OF HIS ALBUM — is just amazing and wonderful and perfect. It’s like when Iverson crossed over Jordan, except imagine that instead of Jordan just stumbling for half a second and giving Iverson enough room to get a jumper off, MJ’s legs melted into the hardwood floor and Iverson won, like, three or four championships in a row and all the games played in Philly had to be played around Jordan since he was fused to the court and had to watch it all happen. That’s Young Thug calling his album Barter 6.

Straightaway 3: 1/1, 100 percent

This is the time they told Young Thug he needed a cover for the 1017 Thug 2 mixtape and Young Thug was just like, “Fuck it, just Photoshop my head on Wiz Khalifa’s body and let’s call it a wrap.”


It goes: Paul Allen < Bobby Fischer < Stephen Hawking < Young Thug. That’s how it goes.

Filed Under: Music, young thug, the game, Lil Wayne, emotional heat check

Shea Serrano is a staff writer for Grantland. His latest book, The Rap Year Book: The Most Important Rap Song From Every Year Since 1979, Discussed, Debated and Deconstructed, is a New York Times best seller and is available everywhere.

Archive @ SheaSerrano