The RX is Uproxx Music’s stamp of approval for the best albums, songs, and music stories throughout the year. Inclusion in this category is the highest distinction we can bestow, and signals the most important music being released throughout the year. The RX is the music you need, right now.
It’s crazy how overlooked and underrated consistency can be. Yet, while it’s easy to take that kind of reliability for granted, its benefits are undeniable.
While some have mused that trap is a dying genre due to its stricter and stricter adherence to formula and I worried at the idea of joint musical projects earlier this year myself, Lil Baby and Gunna’s Drip Harder largely manages to avoid the usual pitfalls of both forms. It does so by embracing two of its major elements: A willingness to indulge the genre’s tropes with a level of commitment and consistency that allows the auteurs to transcend those motifs, and the effervescent chemistry they display in doing so.
Drip Harder is also a testament to the importance and impact of the artist-fan interaction of social media, when it’s done well. The album was formulated when fans continued to harangue Lil Baby and Gunna for more material after the success of their initial collaboration, “Drip Too Hard,” which was built on their existing chemistry from years of association, and perfected by the lack of involvement from major label entanglements. It was of the people and for the people, it’s the egalitarian standard of rap in 2018. “Drip Too Hard” also makes an obligatory appearance here, but nestled comfortably toward the end of the show, allowing Baby and Gunna to strut their musical chops all over the front end.
What sets Drip Harder apart from its musical forebears in the collaborative project arena — projects such as Huncho Jack, Jack Huncho by Quavo and Travis Scott or Super Slimey by Future and Young Thug — is the sense that this was not some slapdash effort, thrown together to appease the the rabid fans banging away on their phone keyboards with “Where’s the album?” comments and tweets, although Super Slimey might be the best analogue for Baby and Gunna’s unique chemistry. Nor is it the overstuffed Culture II offered up by Migos earlier this year which mistook quantity for quality and staying power with cultural importance. No one really ever asked Migos for a 24-track, superhero movie-length trap opera, but fans deliriously anticipated the release of Drip Harder, which was crafted with an eye toward economy and care in the details.
Drip Harder, by contrast to its genre predecessors, clocks in at a relatively smooth, digestible 13 tracks. Because they recognize the primary attraction is the yin-and-yang, push-and-pull of their impressionistic rhyme-slinging (a favorite flex from album opener “Off White VLONE” is “don’t none of my h*es wear Uggs,” which, aside from the distasteful casual misogyny, is such a head-spinner of a boast, you can’t help but sit back and chuckle), the pair ensure their voices — Lil Baby’s nasal whine vs. Gunna’s ragged tenor — are the only ones the listener will hear for the majority of the album. Lil Durk and Nav appear early on, while Gunna’s most immediate stylistic relative Young Thug drops in for a typically unhinged verse on “My Jeans.” And of course, Drake stops by for the clout-blessing closer “Never Recover,” which has already spurred its share of online discussion.