Thinking Out Loud
As Young Dolph began to rack up more underground hits in the late 2010s, his name also began to appear regularly in the tabloids. Half a year after surviving a shooting in Charlotte—the inspiration for the title of his second album, Bulletproof, and its defiant opener “100 Shots”—the Memphis rapper sustained multiple gunshot wounds in an attack outside a Hollywood store. After several weeks of rehabilitation, he emerged from the hospital determined, immediately announcing new music. His third studio album, Thinking Out Loud, dropped the next month, characterized by an off-the-cuff energy that mirrored its title and quick rollout. Like Dolph’s other projects of this time, Thinking Out Loud is a concise master class in his brand of effortless cool. Its slow-burning trap anthems shift thematic focus from couplet to couplet, ultimately providing a detailed composite picture of the rapper’s autobiography, street bona fides, net worth, romantic exploits, and more. Punctuated by doomsday bells in the percussion tracks, his infectious cadence on “Believe Me” accommodates lines about everything from his collection of cars to his troubled upbringing to his commitment to staying independent: “She call all my cars spaceships/I work the trap in the day shift/A crack baby worth 10 mil’/Still turnin' down record deals.” On the album’s most popular export, “Go Get Sum Mo,” Dolph proves his mettle next to his mentor Gucci Mane, beloved intentional trap ambassador 2 Chainz, and hit-making hook architect Ty Dolla $ign. The posse cut demonstrates how far Dolph had come since his mixtapes of the early 2010s—and completely on his own terms. Meanwhile, tracks like the uncanny, Drumma Boy–produced “While U Here” explore the dark side of reaching his level of visibility, contemplating his constantly precarious existence.