Last night, Young Thug revealed that he'll be dropping a singing album this week, executive produced by Drake. Melody has been at the core of Thug's songs for years, of course, but a full album with nothing but singing does come as a surprise.
The reaction to this news has been all over the place, but as people try to wrap their heads around what a project like this might sound like, comparisons to Michael Jackson keep coming up—encouraged by a tweet from the man himself.
These comparisons might be more fitting now than ever, but they aren't new. His unique fashion sense, enigmatic personality, and star quality have reminded people of the King of Pop for years.
In the earliest days of his career, when he was an independent artist releasing his I Came from Nothing mixtape series back in 2011-2012, the MJ/Thugger talk had already started.
Thug's star began to rise when he caught the attention of Gucci Mane and started working with 1017 Brick Squad Records in 2013. He first publicly set his sights on Michael Jackson-levels of success on "Stoner" when he rapped: "I want Michael Jackson land, ohh / Aww I'ma cash out."
At this point, Thug clarified that Lil Wayne remained his main influence, however, telling Complex in early 2014: "I’ll get in the studio with Wayne before Michael Jackson right now so I hope he listening."
Regardless, the "Young Thug is our generation's Michael Jackson" chatter was already happening by spring 2014.
In early 2015, Thug put out a song with the same name as one of MJ's biggest hits, "Beat It," which sparked more talk.
By early 2016, Thug had become a full-fledged star, with all three Slime Season projects under his belt. After hearing him rap the line, "Michael Jackson, ni**a, Thugger Jackson moon walkin'" on "Best Friend," some people were already moving on from "Young Thug is the next Michael Jackson" claims to make bigger and bolder statements.
In late 2016, the comparisons grew stronger as Thug revealed his iconic dress-wearing Jeffery album cover and went on Travis Scott's .wav radio show to explain, "I never had a street mentality. I always had a Michael Jackson mentality."
In early 2017, Birdman himself chimed in, comparing Thug to MJ and Prince in a short video clip.