Gunna is YSL's golden child. Here's his essential listening.
On December 12th, 2015, Keith Troup was murdered at the Chevron gas station on Old National Highway in College Park, Georgia. Troup was a local legend and a mentor to many, including College Park native Gunna, as well as Zone 3’s Young Thug. Troup’s name can be found scatteredallthroughout Young Thug’s discography and immortalized on Gunna records such as “Rich Bitch” or “Pedestrian” Through the untimely passing of their mutual mentor, Gunna and Thug were bonded for life.
Less than a year after Troup’s passing, Gunna made his official debut on “Floyd Mayweather,” off Young Thug’s Jeffery, alongside high-profile acts such as Gucci Mane and Travis Scott. Even though he existed in relative obscurity, Gunna’s ability was apparent as he managed to keep up with some of the most vibrant names in rap. About another year and the first two Drip Season mixtapes later, Gunna’s burgeoning creativity resulted inDrip or Drown, a sharp collaborative EP with YSL’s foremost producer, Wheezy. With Young Thug and the YSL label fully on his side, all that was left was for Gunna was to release a universally accepted body of work. Cue: Drip Season 3.
February’s Drip Season 3 was a blockbuster success; even Diddy could be seen dancing to the mixtape on Instagram. Not only did it spawn Gunna’s biggest hit to date, it also teased a newfound chemistry with QC’s Lil Baby (also another close friend of Thugger’s). The duo, aware enough to capitalize off of their infectious energy, returned quickly with “Sold Out Dates,” an unbearably catchy collab joint that will undoubtedly become a significant bookend in both their careers. Although he may still be unfamiliar to a few of you, Gunna’s buzz is reaching fever pitch, on the verge of boiling over to mainstream success.
If Gunna continues aligning himself with industry darlings, collabing with artists such as Nav, Playboi Carti, and Lil Uzi Vert, he will surely become one of the most talked-about rappers of 2019. So, before you have to force your way on to a crowded bandwagon, here is a list of the YSL rapper’s essential songs (not including features).
"Outta Sight Outta Mind" (2016)
A Drip Season highlight, this track also marks Gunna's first music video after joining up with YSL.
"Can't Relate" (2016)
“Can’t Relate” is a great snapshot of Gunna at his most raw as he works out the idiosyncrasies of the silky vocals he’s since developed.
"Young N*gga" (2016)
When he first got started, Gunna felt a bit too shy for the main stage. However, tracks like this one quickly proved that he had a defiant, war-ready energy about him.
"Rockstar Status" (2016)
Another track from Gunna’s first project (Drip Season), “Rockstar Status” is a high-octane ode to the finer things in life.
"Cop Me A Foreign (ft. Young Thug)" (2016)
Of all the official collaborations with Young Thug - including standouts like “Secure the Vibe” and “King Kong” - it’s “Cop Me A Foreign” that stands as the most catchy experiment between the two.
"Beat Da Case (ft. Offset)" (2017)
After the success of “Bad & Boujee,” Offset saw a breakout year in 2017. One of his best verses of the year can be found on this track with Gunna. Although Migos and YSL don’t seem to be collaborating much these days, the existence of this song begs for further Gunna x Offset tracks.
The lead single from Drip Season 2, “Phase” is a conflicted, soulful look at the turbulent road to better days.
Where “Phase” was the come-up story, “Japan” paints an exciting look at Gunna’s newfound success while casting greater, global aspirations.
"Don't Give Up" (2017)
A few key tracks in Gunna’s discog, such as this one or Drip Season 3’s “Money Don’t Change You,” offer an introspective look at the young man’s approach to life. A strong proponent of perseverance and patience, these insight’s into Gunna’s state of mind prove him to be a disarmingly grounded artist. In the accompanying music video, Gunna's pleas of "don't give up" seem to be directed at his own mother as she struggles with the choices her son has been forced to make.
"Drip or Drown" (2017)
“Don’t Give Up” is Drip or Drown’s emotional anchor; contrastingly, this titular track is a cold-hearted declaration of swagger. It’s a prime showcase of Gunna’s rapidly developing hit-making capabilities. Shortly after its release, “Drip or Drown” became a viral hit, spawning countless memes and setting the stage for Gunna’s remarkable 2018. (A Lil Yachty remix of the track eventually became a bonus track on Drip Season 3).
"Spending Addiction" (2018)
The promising songwriting showcased throughout Gunna’s first three projects finally came to fruition on this year’s breakout mixtape, Drip Season 3, which is teeming with addictive hooks, somber autobiographical reflections, and increasingly quotable verses. “Spending Addiction” in particular successfully mixes Gunna’s standard bravado with endearing passages about incarcerated friends he hasn’t seen since his “first year of high school.”
If one thing is clear about YSL, it’s that those who claim the movement are often far from regular pedestrians. And although Gunna’s songwriting often paints him as the common man, easily relatable and comforting in his motivational talk, “Pedestrian” is one of those joints where he just gets to talk his shit. Speaking in “slime language,” as it were.
"Oh Okay (ft. Young Thug & Lil Baby)" (2018)
We all know this one, right? Our biggest takeaway from "Oh Okay" is that a collab tape between Young Thug and his two most prominent children (three, if you include Lil Uzi) would absolutely break the internet (and birth another stylistic movement for outsiders to emulate).
"Toast Up" (2018)
Drip Season 3 has over half a dozen highlights that could take this spot. “My Soul,” “No Joke,” “Car Sick” with Nav, “Lies About You” with Lil Durk - but we figured it was appropriate to reserve the spot for the closing track that Diddy showered with praise.
"Sold Out Dates" (2018)
Finally, the icing on the cake. “Sold Out Dates” is one of the best standalone rap songs of the year and positions Lil Baby as the Rich Homie Quan to Gunna’s Young Thug. Hopefully, their rumored collab tape Drip Harder is on the way sooner than later. In the meantime, you can find further Gunna and Lil Baby collabs on Baby projects such as Perfect Timing and Harder Than Ever, as well as on the newly released YSL compilation album, Slime Language.