Two years ago, Young Thug visited Elton John at his home in Atlanta, Georgia. It wasn't a shock in itself—John had already told Noisey that he loved Young Thug's work—but it was more real than anyone expected. The two traded compliments and posed for a wonderful photograph before Thugger's then-manger, Amina Diop, teased the world with talk of an unexpected collaboration. John had sent over an instrumental version of "Rocket Man," Diop said. Young Thug had recorded his own vocals over it.
"It's all the instrumental, the guitar, piano; and Thug is not rapping, he's singing," a source told The Fader. "It's really ambient and amazing."
And then nothing. John started writing the score for the Broadway adaptation of The Devil Wears Prada before announcing his retirement tour. Young Thug released Slime Season 3 and Jeffery and Beautiful Thugger Girls and a clutch of other genre-bending mixtapes and EPs. No "Rocket Man."
Until last night when—holy shit—the song leaked onto Soundcloud. It's a floaty, delicate, convention-destroying triumph, a three-minute burst of sci-fi glam-trap crossover that should have been a hit single. John's vocals are still there—"I'm gonna be high" is a great setup for a trap ballad, obviously—but Thug runs away with it. His voice is limber and dextrous; he's right up at the front of the mix; he rifles off "I'm living scary like a hundred highs / Lil mama sexy, I got butterflies" while Young Elton swims around in the background. It's so goddamned good and you should really listen to it below.
Young Thug released Slime Language, a new "compilation project," last Friday.
Alex Robert Ross is burning out his fuse up here on Twitter.