Review: Gunna & Lil Baby, ‘Drip Harder’

Lil Baby and Gunna collide for an appropriate example of snappy vanilla trap where standout songs are hauled by forgettable filler.

Once upon a time, Young Thug and Rich Homie Quan were destined for commercial greatness. 2014’s Rich Gang: Tha Tour Pt. 1 is celebrated till this day, though the duo fell short of a global takeover. Four years later their carbon copies have claimed the ears of trendy trap audiences, set out to accomplish what their mentor couldn’t. Lil Baby, who has been rapping for only a year, has the power of the production to steer his loosely-crafted ship. His partner Gunna has evolved his vocal delivery since his 2016 breakout appearance on Young Thug’s “Floyd Mayweather”, introducing a buttery, nonchalant flow that was the selling point of Travis Scott’s “Yosemite”. Considering the poor track record of collaborative projects, Lil Baby and Gunna have a challenge to extract the purest of melodic elixir from their restrictive style for thirteen tracks straight.

At 38 minutes, Drip Harder is a predictable example of vanilla trap in 2018, presenting a formula listeners impulsively tip their hats to. Signature guitar branding by Turbo, Zaytoven keys and the duo’s Vlone Supreme x VVS testimonials is the ready-made recipe for the satisfactory-to-likeable appeal of Drip Harder.

Despite its omission, “Sold Out Dates” laid out the blueprint for the production of Drip Harder, undoubtedly its selling point. Producer Turbo makes the most of his trademark guitars, churning irresistible melodies on tracks like “Belly” and “Business Is Business”, subtly varying the strings enough to narrowly distinguish between the beats of the superior songs.

From the rappers themselves, the performances are indistinctive but habitual, complimenting the production effortlessly. Vocally, Gunna impresses more than Lil Baby, although this is often irrelevant as their monozygotic deliveries intertwine for impressive yet indistinguishable chemistry. This pours through on “I Am”, the hook undeniably infectious alongside the duo’s emphasised flow.

Vocal variation is a stranger to trap music, and Drip Harder happily conforms. Even when the duo break off for their solo songs, it is a puzzle working out who is frontlining the song without the tracklist in hand. The solo format was introduced by Drake and Future and has undeservedly become the norm. This is when Drip Harder reaches its lowest point (“World Is Yours”, “Deep End”). An exception is Lil Baby’s “Close Friends”, a trap&B ode that grants a well-deserved intermission from Baby and Gunna’s diamond gasconade.

Lead single “Drip Too Hard” boasts the best hook of the mixtape, loaded with quotables and equivalent performances from Baby and Gunna. More often than not, Gunna is the master behind the hooks on Drip Harder, though takes a backseat for Lil Baby to handle hook duty. It is a shame there is no other single-worthy material that can challenge “Drip Too Hard” for chart longevity.

When the keys come into play, Drip Harder is exposed for its shameful lack of versatility despite claiming originality. The earworm “Underdog” is one verse away from being a Future song, whereas “Style Stealer” is heavily ironic to the title’s detriment. Such songs are worth replay but do not benefit from what Lil Baby and Gunna provide; any rapper can be swapped in their place with no variation, particularly Lil Baby. Whereas “Style Styler” and “Underdog” are enjoyable, “My Jeans” and “Seal Pills” are an eyeroll away from tapping the skip button.

For what it intends, Drip Harder is an acceptable display of digestible trap music. It is the embodiment of trap in 2018 with enough replay value and melodic production to get listeners by, though creates a mental war between prioritising melody over originality. As an 8-track EP, Drip Harder would boast the maximum dose of drip.

Rating: 6.5 / 10

Best tracks: “Belly”, “Drip Too Hard”, “I Am”, “Close Friends”, “Underdog”, “Business Is Business”