Talking might be limited when he’s actually recording, but there’s never a dull moment when Thug is in the Snake Pit.
“What hasn’t happened in the studio?” Gunna asks, noting that most studio sessions include memorable moments. “We done had all types of crazy things. Crazy women, all types of things coming around in the studio, man… I wouldn’t know where to start at, honestly.” Laughter is even more prevalent. “One thing y’all don’t know about him, is that man funny as hell,” he continues. “He got all the jokes. He’s funny as a motherfucker. All day, everyday, we be trying to find time to be serious because we play too much.”
And of course, it wouldn’t be a Young Thug session without working a little animal education in the day. All of the YSL team has developed an affinity for animals, but Thug is the group’s own Steve Irwin. National Geographic frequently plays on mute in the studio, and Thug is known to spit out random facts at any given moment.
“He actually knows a lot of really cool facts about many, many animals. Sometimes it’s shocking,” Strick recalls. “We’ll be sitting down and someone will say something and he’s like, ‘Oh yeah. Did you know that etc, etc?’ I’m like, ‘What the fuck? How the hell you even know that about a dolphin?’”
Recording isn’t just confined to the Snake Pit. Thug can record anywhere in the world, and often invites his team to join him on his global expeditions. Strick’s fondest memory was recording a song called “Die Slow” with Thug in Venice, Italy. The song was made in 2019 in an Italian hotel room overlooking the water, and will appear on Thug’s forthcoming album, Punk. “It was my first time in Venice. It was such a beautiful place,” Strick remembers.
“Thug actually knows a lot of really cool facts about many, many animals. Sometimes it’s shocking.” – Strick
Thug’s creative process is fueled by unpredictability and confidence. You never know what’s going to happen in the studio, but the result is usually extraordinary. “He’s already got such a cool mystique about him that you’re kind of just waiting for him to do something magical,” Strick says. “He brings out a level of creativity that’s so organic that you just feed off of that. He’s super genuine, so when you’re watching him record, you know that it’s coming from a really pure place.” Oftentimes, that energy manifests in Thug experimenting with adlibs and background vocals that no one else in the industry can duplicate. “You almost got to be there to experience it,” Strick adds.
Thug’s ability to jump from a small hotel room in Europe with five people to the Snake Pit with 15 people, Ogunlesi says, is what “gives him another sort of energy that he thrives off of. That just highlights his confidence, where it doesn’t matter what is going on, he’s going to make music.”
That self-assurance and fearlessness rubbed off on everyone, including Gunna. “Thug is confident for whatever he faces,” Gunna says. “Like, as long as he understands and knows what he’s saying, the point is gonna get across. He’s going to make sure of that. That’s one thing I learned from him. I know whatever I say, it could sound crazy or whatever, I’m going to get my point across.”
Now, Young Thug is gearing up for the release of his second studio album, Punk, which is slated to drop on October 15. And from the moment he began recording, Thug perfectly curated the vibe to his eccentric taste, setting up a house in Atlanta with themed recording sessions.
“It’s a big performance all the time,” Bainz says, summing up his experiences recording with Thug and YSL. “That’s how making music is for them. With Thug, it’s always the first thing that comes to his mind. So you have to be ready to capture that because many times out of ten, you’re going to end up using it.” No one does it quite like Young Thug.