Review: Gunna, ‘Drip or Drown 2’

The YSL rapper sticks to the script of his usual series of wavy elementary trap.

Slowly but surely, Gunna made his way to the pinnacle of the 2018 equivalent to last decade’s ‘swag rap’. On 2016’s “Floyd Mayweather”, Gunna was a timid simulation of label boss Young Thug, barely distinguishable to the human ear. Coming into his own was vital for a successful career, and even more so, developing a working relationship with fellow upcomer Lil Baby. The duo’s 2018 mixtape Drip Harder was an average yet enjoyable testament to modern trap trends, boasting infectious guitar riffs and serenading designer brands to their graves. It’s no secret that the tedious nature of the genre does no favours for traditional album formats, so it’s up to Gunna to show how much more he has left in the tank before either moving on to something greater or becoming a faded caricature of himself.

On Drip or Drown 2, Gunna reaches the bar he has set. The album is a comfortable depiction of Gunna’s musical identity, delivering a handful of highlights amongst the glaring filer.

It is no mission for Gunna to satisfy fans when tracks like “Outstanding” exist. The song is an assured standout, featuring hypnotic production and a smooth performance by Gunna to begin the album on a high point (“I bought my mama a crib, I’m outstanding”). The production of Drip or Drip 2 is consistently aquatic, testifying in favour for the album’s title. Producers Turbo and Wheezy create a tranquil atmosphere to songs such as “One Call” and “Out the Hood”, slotting with Gunna’s laidback delivery like a 2-piece jigsaw puzzle. Those are the two ingredients necessary for a successful Gunna song; wavy production and dozy vocals. Altogether the consistent production grants an enjoyable listen even through the short-lived fillers.

There is no Gunna album without its fair share of guitar-led beats. Acoustic riffs arrive on the trio of tracks “On a Mountain”, “Richard Millie Plain” and “Baby Birkin”. The former song is a pacy remix of the Drip Season 3 highlight “Oh Okay”, however the blatant unoriginality isn’t enough to spoil the infectious melody, “Richard Millie Plain” is as signature a Gunna song can get, possessing a slur that brings the ‘drip’ and ‘drown’ attributes together (“Did the dash and I blowed the brains / Countin’ cash on a private plane”).

Once these tracks are digested, the filler begins to peer through the surface. Songs such as “Cash War”, “IDK Why” and “Yao Ming” occupy unwarranted space on an album that was never destined to justify its 16-track length. The customary Lil Baby collaboration is one of the duo’s weakest songs to date, passing by without batting an eye. “Speed It Up” is a contender for worst song of the year, nominated thanks to the unacceptable excuse of a hook and delivery on the verses. The first verse summarises the lyrical topics of “drip rap” in the most skeletal form possible, making the possibility of dumbing down the genre’s lyricism even further possible.

A guest appearance from Young Thug demonstrates that the student doesn’t always become the master, outperforming his protégé in all departments (“3 Headed Snake”). Gunna struggles to match the eccentric Thug, straining his vocals to garner even an ounce of Thug’s capabilities on a song that is otherwise  (“Jeepers creepers, the gators got measles, shit”).

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Gunna’s capabilities reach where they can on Drip or Drown 2. When the production is up to par, Drip or Drown 2 provides melodic highlights that consistently stick to the aquatic atmosphere, though is bounded by pre-calculated filler.

Rating: 6.5 / 10

Best tracks: “Outstanding”, “Richard Millie Plain”, “Big Shot”, “One Call”, “On a Mountain”, “3 Headed Snake”, “Wit It”