Words: Charlie Lake
The American rapper, singer and songwriter Sergio Giavanni Kitchens, known professionally as Gunna from College Park, Georgia, first began to attract attention in 2013 with his debut mixtape Hard Body. He would eventually catch the attention of local phenomenon Young Thug in 2016, who took Gunna under his wing & signed him to his 300 Entertainment imprint Young Stoner Life Records that same year. However it was not until the release of Drip or Drown & Drip Season 3 in late 2017 & early 2018 respectively, where Gunna’s profile increased significantly. After the release of his debut studio album ‘Drip or Drown 2’ and an expansive list of features throughout 2019 and the start of 2020, the rapper was more than ready to deliver a sophomore effort.
The release of the album ‘Wunna’ was accompanied by a two-part documentary that illustrates the album’s production and Gunna’s lavish and accomplished lifestyle. Wunna is astrology-themed about the life and times of Gunna’s alter ego, Wunna. Gunna is Wunna; Wunna is Gunna. Even the album artwork shows Gunna’s animated character levitating inside an iridescent horoscope. However, Wunna doesn’t unveil a yet unknown side of Gunna, but rather the wealthy superstar he has become.
Arguably some of the best moments on the album Top Floor, Skybox, Cooler Than a Bitch (feat. Roddy Rich), Addys (feat. Nechie), Dollaz On My Head, Argentina, Met Gala and Wunna. Gunna’s production choice on this album is high quality for the most part and his flows have improved immensely from his earlier projects and also from his debut album. However, one of the most exciting things on the album was ‘Top Floor’ featuring Travis Scott, which serves as a follow-up to the 2019 chart-topping song ‘Hot’ with Gunna, Young Thug and Travis Scott. To match the catchiness, beat and impressive verses of the original was always going to be an impossible task, especially without the vocals of YSL’s Young Thug. However Top Floor is still one of the most memorable moments on the album, with the same catchy trumpet fanfare beat in the background. Another favourite on the album is Skybox, which had been released as single in March. This song is a perfect combination of Gunna’s soothing singing and lyrical genius whilst rapping.
However, no album is perfect. The quality of the project seems to tail off towards the end of the 18-song project, with the exception of Top Floor, which is placed at track fifteen. I could not but feel that the album would have been more impressive as a shorter, more minimalist effort. Some of the more forgettable beats and verses come at the end of Wunna and sound almost like throwaway Travis Scott or Young Thug singles. Moreover, the features from Lil Baby and Nechie, a lesser-known rapper also signed under YSL Records are weak and the songs that they feature on would have been better served as featureless songs. Considering the weight that the name Lil Baby carries in the rap industry, especially after the release of his most recent album ‘My Turn’, his feature on the song ‘Blindfold’ was wildly underwhelming.
This is vastly better than Drip or Drown 2 was and is arguably the best project that Gunna‘s put out since Drip Season 3. Despite a couple of weak features, most of them come together nicely. However, what is to be enjoyed most about this album is how it sounds much more focused & consistent than it’s predecessor; from the catchy song writing & performances to the creative production. Wunna is a listening experience, due in large part to its production, which co-exists in almost perfect harmony with Gunna’s vocals and catchy flows. The album could certainly have done with being at least four or five songs shorter, to be more concise and focused and for each song to have more significance within the project. The fifty-one-minute runtime seemed just too long. It is far from being worthy of an ‘Album of the Year’ nomination, however it is still without a doubt the best project that the rapper has put out to date.