Elton John on Young Thug and Eminem’s Freestyle Skills: ‘Never Seen Someone Like Thug Come in and Do That’

The piano-playing music icon compared his experience in the studio with Thugger—who sampled John on 2018’s “High”—to seeing Eminem freestyle years back.

elton john

Photo by Marc Piasecki/Getty Images For Global Citizen

elton john

Elton John has compared his experience in the studio with Young Thug to seeing Eminem’s impressive rap skills years back. In a conversation with Billboard​​​​​, John revealed he was “blown away” by the freestyling display from Thugger, who’s about to appear on the 74-year-old’s The Lockdown Sessions cut “Always Love You” with Nicki Minaj​​​​​​.

“I mean, I’ve seen Marshall [Mathers] do it in Detroit, but I’ve never seen someone like Thug come in and do that,” the legend said. “In the end, I had to leave because I think he felt a bit intimidated that I was there and I just wanted him to relax. But it’s just an amazing moment in my musical life…I have no understanding of how rap records are put together and it’s fascinating to watch.”

While John admits he may not know much about how hip-hop records are made, he still wanted to give Young Thug—who sampled Elton’s iconic hit “Rocket Man” for 2018’s “High”—some musical advice. 

“He wanted to meet me…and we shot the breeze for 40 minutes,” John said. “He said, ‘What do you think? What advice would you give me?’ I said, ‘Did you sing in the choir?’ And he said, ‘Yeah, of course I sang in the choir. Gospel choir.’ I said, ‘Sing more. Don’t just rap, sing more, because the mixture of rap and musicianship and melody is what really makes rap take off.’ And he’s doing that now.”


John, who told Billboard he still buys new music every Friday, will release his 32nd studio album on Oct. 22. Lil Nas X, Miley Cyrus, Rina Sawayama, and more will be featured on the project, which includes the aforementioned Thugger team-up “Always Love You.”

Latest in Music