The origins of hip-hop’s subgenre known as trap music can be traced back to the late 1990s in Atlanta, Georgia. Over 20 years later, numerous artists of varying talent levels have emerged from the city in hopes of securing success in the fast-moving music industry. One of these artists who’s recently received mass amounts of praise and respect is Young Thug, who founded YSL Records in 2010 and eventually introduced the world to his first signee: Gunna.
Through collaborations with the likes of Thug and fellow Atlanta rapper Lil Baby, Gunna has seen success on the Billboard Hot 100 chart several times. He can be considered one of the biggest names to come out of Atlanta in recent years, with his solo projects also making decent sales.
However, as stated before, talent within the trap community varies, and Gunna is a prime example of this. His sophomore studio album “WUNNA” was released Friday, and one can only hope he’s grown into someone who isn’t living in the shadow of Young Thug.
The album kicks off with “ARGENTINA,” and vocally, Gunna seems to be performing decently. The acoustic guitar on the beat is immediately attention-grabbing, but its high-pitched twangs can slowly become irritating. Gunna’s flow off the bat is impressive along with his delivery and energy. It’s refreshing to see Gunna display investment on a solo track when this has rarely been the case in the past.
Throughout the 50-minute runtime, “WUNNA” listeners will experience a record with a handful of bright moments and a healthy supply of flat-out annoying performances. An early example is “FEIGNING,” where Gunna has the listener wanting him to wake up and be more invested in the beat, which isn’t all that bad. While he’s always been more of a melodic rapper with passable flow, it’s still frustrating not to hear him enunciating his lyrics more often.
On the topic of the lyrics, there’s truly nothing to write home about. “ADDYS” is a friendly reminder that Gunna is no poet, with the chorus subjecting the listener to the word “addy” more times than what’s acceptable. “I’M ON SOME” isn’t only a generally boring song with a weak performance and beat, but lines such as, “They be lookin' at me like a cash cow (Cash cow), Tryna milk me, ain't given 'em no dairy,” will leave one feeling a little uncomfortable and confused.
However, this project has its enjoyable moments. “TOP FLOOR” with Travis Scott contains a triumphant beat with horn sections that’ll remind one of Young Thug’s hit song, “Hot.” The chemistry between Scott and Gunna is definitely intact, with the former delivering his signature autotuned slick raps and the latter displaying his melodic abilities.
“SKYBOX” is proof that Gunna, while rare, can handle a song on his own and be entertaining. He balances melodic singing with solid rapping throughout the track, and it goes over pretty well. “COOLER THAN A BITCH” has a pleasant guitar-led instrumental along with a Roddy Ricch feature that doesn’t miss a beat. Diamonds in the rough like this are what leave the listener satisfied but craving more quality and consistency from Gunna.
“FAR” closes out the album, and it doesn’t exactly leave a good taste in one's mouth. Gunna is as lazy and indecipherable as ever, and he barely even tries to match the beat. Young Thug definitely attempts to save the song with some of his classic vocal inflections, but it does little to redeem what’s been established.
“WUNNA” isn’t a complete failure by any stretch of the imagination. The production is interesting at times, and Gunna sounds more invested in these tracks than he normally is. However, it should be noted just how low the lows are. Some of the features don’t add any value to the tracks, Gunna’s delivery can leave the listener wondering what he’s even saying and it can be difficult to stay invested throughout the whole runtime. If anything, this album’s a prime example of a trap artist who doesn’t exactly display the talents that made the genre great in the first place.
Contact Julian Denizard at email@example.com. For more on the culture, arts and lifestyle of the JMU and Harrisonburg communities, follow the culture desk on Instagram and Twitter @Breeze_Culture.