Gunna’s ‘Wunna’ Cements His Place In The Best Trap Rapper Debate

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If you’re only able to give your time to one trap album from the first half of 2020, it’d be supremely difficult to go wrong with Gunna’s lean, pristine Wunna. In the modern era of supersize projects tapping the same producers and addressing the same handful of topics, Gunna does enough things right on his latest album to overcome the drawbacks of the genre and of his prior effort, raising his game and delivering a project that not only stands up to multiple listens, but also encourages them as well.

Ever since Gunna’s first appearance alongside Young Thug on “Floyd Mayweather” in 2016, the Atlantan neophyte has been deemed Thugger’s heir apparent of the slippery, melodically-driven flows he helped pioneer into the prevailing style of trap rap. That status seemed solidified in 2018 when Gunna followed up his breakthrough mixtape Drip Season 3 with a collaborative tape alongside his own mentee Lil Baby, Drip Harder. However, far from cementing him as the next big thing out of Atlanta, the tape and its followup instead served as a coronation for Lil Baby, who seemed to surpass Gunna, despite both rappers admitting that it was Gunna who both inspired and instructed Baby early in his career.

Gunna’s debut studio album Drip Or Drown 2 sparked the debate among fans: Which of the two Atlanta trap prodigies most deserved to take over the top spot? However, that argument assumes that there’s only room for one at the top, when in reality, they are as linked as their immediate predecessors, Future and Young Thug — with whom they are ironically also working on a joint title, the sequel to Future and Thug’s own joint mixtape, Super Slimey. Instead, I like to think of the dynamic as similar to A Tribe Called Quest — you can’t have one without the other and each fills a specific role. While Lil Baby’s visceral narratives may resonate most strongly with the streets, Gunna’s heady ghetto philosophy gives him a different edge.

There’s no clearer demonstration of this effect than Gunna’s sophomore effort Wunna following the release of Lil Baby’s parallel project, My Turn. Where Baby’s approach is sprawling, clocking in at over an hour with 20 tracks and a ton of features, Wunna instead zips along at just under 50 minutes, with two fewer tracks and only six guest verses — one from Lil Baby, on “Blindfold.” The production is tight, utilizing mainly YSL in-house beat maker Wheezy, with a few beats from Mike Will Made It and Tay Keith sprinkled in for variety. “Blindfold” displays the smooth chemistry between the two rappers, highlighting Gunna’s focus on rap skills over storytelling: “Gunna spit venom, you can hear it in his voice,” he snaps, “Tried me and I killed him, I didn’t really have no choice.”

For the most part, as Gunna goes it alone, he demonstrates his slick ability to slip from one topic to another, elegantly flexing and snidely threatening at the same time on “Met Gala,” then comparing his lifestyle to classic rock icons on “Rockstar Bikers & Chains.” Gunna continually shows off a gift for sing-song choruses designed to stick in the crevices of listeners’ brains, as on the Roddy Ricch-featuring “Cooler Than A B*tch” and album intro “Argentina,” but he rarely overstays his welcome. The album’s brevity is its greatest strength, as Gunna displays his gift for efficiently delivering memorable verses and getting out before the flexes wear out. Wunna may not resolve the debate between fans of which of the Drip Harder collaborators consistently delivers the strongest product, but it does strengthen their connection while proving that Gunna deserves his spot in the conversation.

Wunna is out now on Young Stoner Life Records / 300 Entertainment. Get it here.

Gunna is a Warner Music artist. Uproxx is an independent subsidiary of Warner Music Group.