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It’s Young Thug Week at Complex! Leading up to the release of his new album ‘Punk’ on Friday, we’re diving deep on the influential rapper’s career, publishing new interviews, essays, and lists each day of the week. Follow along here.
When Unfoonk came home home from serving 11 years of a life sentence in October 2019, he returned to a lot of changes.
Just two months earlier, his younger brother, Young Thug, earned his first No. 1 album on the Billboard 200 with So Much Fun, which was soon followed by the success of Gunna and Lil Keed’s solo albums, ultimately kickstarted a wave of national attention around Young Stoner Life Records. Then, one year after Unfoonk’s release in October 2020, Young Thug signed his brother to YSL, and by April 2021, he was a part of the No. 1 charting album, Slime Language 2, appearing on one of the standout songs, “Real.”
Unfoonk tells Complex that adjusting to his newfound freedom and fame hasn’t been much of a challenge. He has a great support system, after all. “Shit’s been amazing,” he says. “I just take it all in, and take it one day at a time. I got to take it all in because I’m just getting out. So I’m taking it slow and enjoying life with my family. That’s all it’s about, enjoying life with my family.”
Family is the foundation of Young Thug’s YSL music label and brand. Throughout his career, he’s earned a reputation for bringing up new talent. Many of the artists on his roster, like Lil Duke, Yak Gotti, and Gunna, have known Thug for over a decade. And as his rap empire has grown, he’s made a point to throw his biological family in the mix as well. In addition to Unfoonk, Thug’s younger sisters Dolly White and Dora (also known as HiDoraah) are also signed to the imprint, turning the label into a literal family affair.
Growing up in a family of eleven siblings in Atlanta, things weren’t always easy. Dolly admits that her family grew up “very poor,” but as a result of their circumstances, “We was always family-oriented,” she says. That’s all we had was each other.” Music was often a part of their communion.
“We all were brought up on music,” Dolly explains. “It ain’t something that we just woke up one day and was like, ‘Oh, Jeff want to rap or Unfoonk want to rap, so I want to rap, Dora want to rap. As kids, we always did that. We used to be like, ‘We part of the Jackson 5.’
Their mother would often play R&B and sing along to Aretha Franklin in the house, and the siblings picked up their own knack for entertainment. As early as elementary school, the family’s Uncle Bert would encourage the kids to perform talent shows during family get-togethers and cookouts. “Shout out to Uncle Bert. They would all make me sing,” Dora says. “Soon as I come to the cookouts and stuff, they used to be like, ‘There go my niece right there. Come on, sing that song for me.’ Everybody would be quiet and all that stuff. I was like nine or 10.”