Uzi Vert, a close collaborator of Thug’s who has worked frequently with Gunna, references unnamed snitches during his appearance on “Hellcat Kenny.” “Most of my niggas, they loyal / I ain’t even gotta look, turnin’ my back /Some of these n-ggas, I heard they be rats, “ he raps.
The industry showed up to support Thug, starting with a Drake verse from Thug’s perspective.
While Gunna’s A Gift & A Curse had no features across its 15 tracks, Business is Business is positively star-studded. Drake, 21 Savage, and Travis Scott all appear twice, while Lil Uzi Vert, and FUN. singer Nate Reuss are featured as well. (It’s as good a time as any to revisit the video of Thug passionately singing along to “Some Nights.”) Gunna’s album included a handful of marquee producers like CuBeatz, Pooh Beatz, and his longtime collaborator Turbo, but Thug’s latest was helmed primarily by Atlanta rap mastermind Metro Boomin, who serves as an executive producer, as well as Thug’s frequent foil Wheezy. In the ad-libs for songs like “Mad Dog,” Thug namedrops MetroThuggin—the collaborative tape between himself and Metro Boomin the pair have long teased—implying some of these songs were from those sessions. (Only YSL producer Aviator Keyyz contributed to both A Gfit & A Curse and Business is Business.)
As mentioned, Business is Business was recorded before Thug’s incarceration, which is hardly surprising given the Atlanta MC’s legendarily prolific approach to making music. But the LP acknowledges that Thug is currently in prison, beginning from the very first track.
Drake kicks the album off with bars from Thug’s POV, singing “Don’t tell me bout loyalty, show me this time… Parade on Blevland soon as I get home.” After Drake’s chorus, Thug’s verse is preceded by the collect-call notification from the Cobb County Adult Detention Center. Thug also alludes to the concept of “Pushin P,” the ubiquitous slang phrase he helped popularize on Gunna’s 2022 track of the same name.
Nate Ruess, of all people, seems to speak about Thug’s case most directly.
Notably, one of the guest vocalists who speaks most emphatically about Thug’s situation is Ruess. Singing the opening of closer “Global Access,” he opines about Thug’s situation, viewing it as a classic case of a public figure being built up only to be torn down by the same forces. “They will try and lock you up / Drag your name down through the mud / Afraid of all that you’ll become /’Cause that’s life here in America,” Ruess says, later adding, “So they will try and keep your mouth shut / Take your words and twist them up.” The latter lines are particularly notable since lyrics from Thug and other YSL members were cited prominently in the RICO indictment, kick-starting another spirited debate about the use of rap lyrics in criminal trials, and the way that rappers are not given the same artistic license as other creatives.
Elsewhere on the album, another YSL tragedy is referenced: the death of Lil Keed, the talented 24-year-old MC who died in May 2022. Keed’s younger brother, Lil Gotit, appears on several songs, referencing his late family member on “Hoodie.” “Long live my fuckin’ brother, that’s my Rolex / That’s my twin,” he raps.” The title of opening cut ‘Parade on Cleveland” references Cleveland Avenue, the street where Keed grew up and the namesake of his acclaimed Trapped on Cleveland mixtape series.
Ultimately, Business is Business won’t go down as a genre-defining body of work like Thug’s Jeffery or Barter 6, but its brightest moments are a reminder of what Young Thug can be at his freewheeling best.