November 19, 2012

Tosten Burks is eminently hirable.

This is how you impress fresh out of jail. On house arrest after posting bail (and facing trial for charges of assault and assorted armed robbery), Gunplay marches on, releasing fire in preparation for his debut solo LP Medellin. Have T.I. or Lil Wayne rapped this well at any point in the last three years? Alongside the impressively long and bar-packed rant that is “The Hard Way,” “Drop,” the first single, is a perfectly concise encapsulation of Gunplay’s artistic agenda – which is too perfect given that concise encapsulation is Gunplay’s artistic agenda.

The best trap-rap verses are the ones with the best individual lines. Those who have mastered it (Ross, Waka, Gucci at his peak) have mostly just mastered the art of precision. Chief Keef is the rookie of the moment in huge part due to one unforgettably precise rap hook. Is it a coincidence that MMG has risen parallel with Twitter? Point being: Gunplay’s one-liner game is as clever and entertaining as anyone’s right now. Take the best off of these two tracks:

. “Broad day, off safety in ya hallway”

. “Big chain, my neck hurt. Big watch, my wrist hurt.”

. “My position went from petty to big fete already”

. “Get Franklins no Arethas; you broke get no Doritos”

The best way to present these is in list form —  appreciated as stand-alone accomplishments. Detaching them from traditional verse structure and construction doesn’t really matter because they’re mostly completely detached from all that in the first place.

With Pusha finally talking about things other than the white stuff every once in a while, this is as vivid and compelling as modern coke-rap gets, or at least this dominant maximalist strain of it.

Which is also an important distinction to remember – that trap is maximalist. Gunplay stands out because he reaches new heights of excess with his completely unhinged delivery, rejection of narrative moderation, and Afterschool Special lifestyle.

It’s fascinating to hear to what extremes Rick Ross can stretch a persona we all know to be completely made up. Contrastingly, Gunplay’s appeal is being gruesomely real — vibrantly, exaggeratedly so. The guessing game about to what extent that is true is what keeps the relationship between artist and listener so absorbing. Things are always more interesting when you can’t trust the narrator.

MP3: Gunplay – “The Hard Way” (Left-Click)
MP3: Gunplay – “Drop” (Left-Click)

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