Drip Season 3 (Deluxe)

Drip Season 3 (Deluxe)

There are moments throughout Drip Season 3 (Deluxe), Gunna’s breakthrough mixtape from 2018, that the Atlanta rapper walks right up to the edge of recording a lullaby. Take “My Soul,” the hypnotic cut where the Rolls-Royce salesman offers deals with the devil, the Balmain denim is so tight it threatens to cut off Gunna’s circulation, and the Gucci shoes are reimagined as the alligators who died to make them. All of this is meted out in a way that seems to rock gently back and forth over a beat whose drums are spaced just far enough apart that each kick seems like it could be the last—until it isn’t. From the moment he first appeared to national audiences on his mentor Young Thug’s 2016 album JEFFREY, Gunna had seemed to be more reserved than his peers. Drip Harder, the full-length collaboration with fellow Thug protégé Lil Baby that was released just eight months after Drip Season 3, underlines this dynamic, allowing Baby to bounce all over the mix while Gunna grounds him. But the latter’s monotone masks a sly sense of humor, allowing him to deadpan his comparisons between personal strife or naturalistic violence and askance pop culture figures. Here he appears alongside Thug and Baby as well as Lil Durk, NAV, Lil Uzi Vert, and Lil Yachty, tethering each of them to the massive, warbling low ends that ripple through these tracks. Gunna’s gravity is such that even on a song like “No Joke,” which is urgent enough that it would run away from a less commanding rapper, his Auto-Tuned riffing recenters the proceedings. His voice returns, again and again, to something just sort of mournful. Whether on songs as grim as the HoodRich Pablo Juan duet “Almighty” or as energetic as “Pedestrian,” Gunna is fixed on his preoccupations: designer labels, sex, love, betrayal. For a rapper so supposedly seduced by the things we consume, the man behind Drip Season 3 seems to understand just how little the window dressing changes what lies behind it.

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