Label: CBE/RCA
Released: May 8

Collaborative projects in hip-hop were long ago deemed as longshots. It’s a 1000-to-1 chance of ego, schedule, and creativity aligning to yield a musical marriage that sounds neither alien nor forced. When they do happen, it’s like a lightning strike (from you know, God or Zeus, maybe). But something about What a Time to Be Alive made the pipe dream a reality and an attainable one at that. Ever since, we’ve been inundated with too much of a good thing. Artists link up for six tracks they made in six days all the time now, and the returns are more often diminishing than not. But for every pairing that feels like it was predestined, there’s one that seems, frankly, random as hell (which honestly makes it even sweeter when it turns out to be a slap). I don’t know if I was even aware Chris and Thug knew each other, much less liked each other enough to give us 10 tracks of absolute heat, but here we are. (Yes, I know Young Thug featured on two CB tracks in the past, take a joke.) 

It shouldn’t come as a surprise, in retrospect. Love or hate Chris Brown, the man has an undeniably effortless approach to earworm melodies and hooks. Compare that with the precision of a croon-happy Young Thug, who at the very least makes the finished product seem just as easy, and you get a rap-R&B hybrid that recalls the Fan of a Fan energy, only with (no shots) better rapping. With minimal guests, producers familiar to both artists, and a mercifully lean running time—nothing short of a blessing when it comes to Chris Brown these days—this is a lean-and-yayo nutcracker of breezy fun just waiting to soundtrack the clubs whenever they re-open. There’s no telling if this is the start of a fruitful and frequent partnership, or just two stars’ ships passing in the L.A. nights, but that uncertainty makes it even more thrilling. —Frazier Tharpe