Elton John’s been pop icon for literal decades, yet he shows few signs of slowing down, even as age is starting to catch up with him. In fact, he’s experienced something of a career resurgence, expanding into the world of hip-hop via collaborations with Lil Nas X and Young Thug. In a new interview with Billboard, Elton praised the latter, revealing the career advice he gave to Thug (despite having “no understanding of how rap records are put together”), and explaining why he was so blown away by Thugger’s recording process, even going as far as comparing it favorably to Eminem’s, another rapper with whom Elton maintains a friendship.
Recalling meeting Thug after the Atlanta rapper sampled his hit “Rocket Man” on the 2018 single “High,” Elton said, “He wanted to meet me…and we shot the breeze for 40 minutes. He said, “What do you think? What advice would you give me?’ I said, ‘Did you sing in the choir?’ And he said, ‘Yeah, of course I sang in the choir. Gospel choir.’ I said, ‘Sing more. Don’t just rap, sing more, because the mixture of rap and musicianship and melody is what really makes rap take off.’ And he’s doing that now.”
Of watching Thug record his song “Always Love You” by essentially freestyling it, Elton remembers being “just blown away. I mean, I’ve seen Marshall [Mathers] do it in Detroit, but I’ve never seen someone like Thug come in and do that. In the end, I had to leave because I think he felt a bit intimidated that I was there and I just wanted him to relax. But it’s just an amazing moment in my musical life… I have no understanding of how rap records are put together and it’s fascinating to watch.”
Read Elton John’s full interview here. Elton’s duet album Lockdown Sessions, which will feature Thug, as well as 6lack, Lil Nas X, and Nicki Minaj, among others, is due 10/22 via EMI and Mercury.
Young Thug is a Warner Music artist. Uproxx is an independent subsidiary of Warner Music Group.