All photos by Minh Tran.

Imagine a world where you are the only rapper who has discovered the creative benefits of smoking marijuana, enabling you to deliver rhymes so distinctive that you instantly stand head and shoulders above your peers. It's too late for this to happen now, but I have a growing suspicion that Young Thug has found some other new secret psychotropic—one that fuels the infectiously idiosyncratic vocal delivery that has brought him immediate and indelible ubiquity in popular culture.

During last night's performance at the Roseland, Young Thug took numerous gulps from a giant foam cup, held onstage for him by a dedicated bodyguard. While easy speculation would assume it's filled with lean, I like to think it was filled with a proprietary, creativity-enhancing serum.

While close inspection reveals numerous pockets of wit and sensitivity in his rhymes, Young Thug generally eschews lyricism and wordplay, and instead focuses on making his voice as deeply expressive as possible: He uses melody and gesticulation to explore the phonological possibilities of the human voice within the context of rap. He has literally changed the game.

More photos and review after the jump!

There was a collective sigh of relief from everyone at the Roseland when Young Thug casually rolled onto stage only 15 minutes later than scheduled; the numerous recent cancellations on his current tour left an anxious nature to the first part of the night. Contradicting the elaborate stage setup for his last performance in Portland (alongside Travis Scott), this show was as threadbare as possible. One mic, one human-operated laptop, no dancers, and no outfit changes. It hardly mattered to the crowd, who gleefully sang and bounced along to the rapid cavalcade of quirky hits. Young Thug displayed the excellent breadth of his musical catalog, jumping back and forth through his numerous mixtapes, each song just as effective as the last in energizing and engaging the crowd.

Rather than leveraging the benefit of a hype man or backup vocalist, Young Thug opted to leave the recorded vocals playing on almost all of his songs, allowing both the playback and audience to do their share of the performing for the evening. Again, the joyous crowd didn't mind—when Young Thug did choose to chime in, the indelible charisma of voice was immediately made clear and required no overstatement.