Review: Gunna, ‘DS4EVER’

Gunna calmly exercises the trap formula on DS4EVER, embodying how fun he can make songs that are plain and simple.

Nobody makes brainless trap music quite like Gunna. His delivery is tranquil or boring, depending how you see it. His beats are personable or trash, depending how you see it. So the crossroad with Gunna is simple: you either love his music or hate it. Within the former camp lies an understanding of the appeal; an ability as a listener to accept bare-boned, often ridiculous rap tunes. Gunna’s rise was therefore not by chance. The aquatic production on Drip or Drown 2 was both unique and intentional. The air-bound ASMR of WUNNA is transportive. Meaning whether you want to feel like you’re on a boat or a plane, Gunna’s got you covered.

Announced as the final instalment in his Drip Season series, DS4EVER is gleaming with your usual trap tropes backed up by addictive production and psychedelic flows.

Ironically, the Drip Season tapes are Gunna’s most basic offerings. They are much unlike the styles of Drip or Drown or WUNNA which have more identity. In trap music, there are beats that are either simple and forgettable, or simple and catchy. For Gunna’s latest project, it’s a lot of the latter. DS4EVER eyes up appropriate trap beats, courtesy of regulars Wheezy, Turbo, Taurus and Metro Boomin (though the first three shock and outdo Metro’s offerings), and picks the pocket they need. These beats are not striking but possess a melody, which is all Gunna needs to form a matrimony.

DS4EVER is Young Thug’s So Much Fun, but better. In the way his YSL boss dumbed the sound down, Gunna does the same but makes better songs out of it. The acoustic opener “Private Island” is more heartfelt than the Thug’s acoustic opener, “Just How It Is”. Want to add some grit? “Poochie Gown” has that covered. Need Gunna to get ridiculous? Well, there’s plenty of that. Even when his mentor appears on the album, the protégé finds himself on equal footing. This wasn’t the case not so long ago.

Across the tracklist, bangers arrive with a crux that makes their appeal. For “South to West” it’s the aerobic horns which makes it the “META GALA” of the album. For “25K Jacket” with Lil Baby it’s the sharp violin that accompanies the duo’s usual chemistry. “Flooded” brings the buoyant bounce of WUNNA to separate itself from the production uniform. The trio of tracks have standout hooks to top it all off, as do many other songs.

When DS4EVER is ridiculous, it goes the extra mile to earn it, and is where personality is injected into the album. The Future and Young Thug collab “Pushin P” has taken off for popularising the term “P” (player). While Gunna still can’t explain its meaning coherently, a cultural moment like this was needed to kick off the year. “Mop” with Young Thug is even more absurd for its cow line, ascending hook and tongue-in-cheek affairs (“You know she got sliggidy slop”). “P Power” with Drake is blacklisted from all speakers worldwide. These songs and bars are designed purely for humour; you are meant to laugh. And Gunna’s deadpan delivery on top makes it all the more hilarious.

To everyone’s surprise, DS4EVER does come with an ounce of substance. On the highlight “Livin Wild”, Gunna confesses the toll his lean-led lifestyle’s had on his health, citing kidney failures yet struggling to change his ways (“Everyone said they told you and you ain’t takin’ heed”). Acoustic tracks “Private Island” and closer “So Far Ahead > Empire” don the cloak of Thug’s PUNK, succeeding in making us feel like he’s a real man behind the designer clothes and jewels.

Despite plenty highs, milder moments do creep into the tracklist. The R&B duet with Chloe Bailey is a sonically pleasant song that also makes you gag. Elsewhere are tracks that play their part in the fodder but struggle to individualise themselves (“Life of Sin”, “IDK That Bitch”, “How You Did That”). Though these songs are taints rather than skips. As a whole, the consistency of DS4EVER pays off. You want catchy trap music? You are getting catchy trap music.

It’s easy to get simplistic trap wrong. But on DS4EVER, the checklist is fulfilled: catchy beats, melodic flows and memorable hooks, with a slice of humour. Ridiculous, yes, but ridiculously entertaining.

7.5 / 10

Best tracks: “south to west”, “pushin p”, “livin wild”, “25k jacket”