It’s easy to overlook this album if you were infuriated with the ‘Carter 6’ drama surrounding it. If you happened to be living under a rock for the last few months, Birdman and Lil Wayne's - former friends and business partners - feud heated up when Young Thug announced that he would be calling his album 'Carter 6'. If you know know anything about Lil Wayne, you would know that it’s his thing to call his albums ’Tha Carter..’, Carter is his last name after all, Thug has no connection to the name 'Carter' apart from Lil Wayne being one of his idols. What was Young Thug’s reasoning of originally calling his album 'Carter 6'? Only Young Thug knows the answer to this. Most people blamed Birdman. Thankfully, he changed the name of album due to much deserved public uproar. Because of the controversy, many decided to skip this release - mostly Lil Wayne fans. He then came out and said that Barter 6 was no longer an album, but a mixtape - confusing, yes. However, it’s important to look past that drama and accept that Barter 6 is a solid release, though it does have numerous faults.
It opens up with ‘Constantly Hating’ featuring Birdman. Lyrically, it's exhibits little substance. If this is his response to hate, then it falls short. If he wanted to show a dynamic response to hate to haters, he should have come about calling shots. An effective diss response record is supposed to feature witty lines, his words aren't entertaining or clever. Perhaps it’s the instrumental that weakens the track too; the bass is repetitive, but also fuzzy and distorted. Contradicting the bass is underlying synths which sound too tropical for a song supposedly aimed at haters. The second Birdman collaboration on the album, ‘Knocked Off’, is much more hard hitting.
The release isn’t one that features massive collaborations, apart from ‘Can’t Tell' which features T.I. and Boosie Badazz (otherwise known as Lil Boosie). T.I.’s feature is a waste of time, it features little to no substance. Whereas Young Thug shows his strength in the hook, spitting lines such as “I might shoot you in your head and then it’s no thinking / Pussy boy i’ll leave you dead and call it dead-ication” - whether this is a shot at Lil Wayne, that is for you to decide (Lil Wayne has a series of mixtape named 'Dedication').
If you’ve come to this album looking for lyrically richness, you’re not going to find it here. It’s an easy to criticism to make that his lyrics are too shallow. If you’re going to truly going to appreciate Young Thug’s music, you need not to consider that vast majority of his lyrics are about the cliche rap topics - booze, drugs, sex, and women. He rarely connects his music to one single topic, instead he fuses these obvious topics with little coherence.
He does a great job in creating sleek flowing melodies though. If there's one thing he can do better then many of his rap/sing counterparts, it’s that he can hold a note. I hate to bring up Lil Wayne once more, however I think Young Thug does this better then him. Take away the nonsensical lyrics, his experimentation of creating smooth vocal melodies is something that should be appreciated. His flow is fluid like, and appears to be natural and unforced. It’s his biggest strength going forward and something I hope he continues to further develop and use more effectively.
Without a doubt, Barter 6’s biggest flaw is that it doesn’t feature any tracks that have the potential to become high selling singles. This release doesn’t contain easily sellable tracks like ‘Stoner’ or his collaborations such as ‘Hookah’ with Tyga, ‘Lifestyle’ with Rich Homie Quan, and ‘Mamacita’ with Travis Scott. This is dangerous territory for Young Thug as the last thing he wants to become is a rapper whose only musical strength is appearing on one minute verses on hits for other rappers - or even worse, just hooks.
‘Halftime’ exhibits some potential to become a decent selling single. The trap-esque beats, though generic, are perfect suited for clubs. ‘Check’ is another club banger which has a degree of potential to be released as a single.
Though there are many faults in Barter 6, it isn’t a terrible release. If anything, it’s purely mediocre. If it’s true what Young Thug has said about it now being a mixtape - despite still charging people money for it - then much of these criticisms can be taken with a grain of salt. However, with the release of the actual LP coming in August, hopefully he can repair these faults in his craft to create a release with both substance and versatility. Another full length release displaying the same shallow disjointed material would be almost unbearable.
Written by Amy Smolcic
Barter 6 by Young Thug
Release date: 16th April 2015