Young Thug has made a name for himself as an artist who plays by his own rules. This week, he released a much-anticipated collaboration with another artist who has always played by his own rules, Elton John. Listen to "High," which is the closing track on Thug's new On The Rvn EP above, courtesy of the artist's YouTube.
Based around samples from John's 1972 classic "Rocket Man," the track finds Thugger addressing his typical subjects (money, women, drugs) over an atmospheric, slow beat driven by John's chopped up vocals. Throughout the course of the track, the formula works surprisingly well — almost too well, as a matter of fact, considering the absolute absurdity of the idea on paper. It takes that element of shock for granted, initially grabbing the listener's attention through its own ridiculousness then continuing to impress them by showing that it actually works.
Thug is in fine form here, doing what he does best. The melancholic atmosphere of the instrumental matches his vocals, while still delivering his trademark surreal bars that emphasize the drug reference in the original John quote ("And I'm gonna be high as a kite by then"). The production is clean and catchy, effortlessly incorporating the John sample into the reverb-soaked instrumental that pairs perfectly with Thug's trippy lyrics.
The fact that this track exists is surprising, yet not quite out of the question considering the circumstances. A move like this fits perfectly with Thug's unusual image and penchant for boundary-pushing, not to mention John has even specifically expressed appreciation for the rapper's eccentricity — stating "I love all of that, it’s unexpected" when prompted about his androgynous fashion choices in a 2015 interview with Noisey. This mention led to their meeting in 2016 and the approval of the track by John, which in turn led to the eventual official clearance of the sample. It is clear that the two respect and may even find kindred spirits in each other.