Mature In The Game: DRIP SEASON 4EVER Review
"I had stepped back from these rappers, these niggas actin' greedy"
Gunna has grown up quite a bit since taking the internet by storm in 2018 with his live performance of "Top Off", but still stays true to his sound on DRIP SEASON 4EVER. This final installment of the Drip Season series is a very polished one, as he promised the album last January and had plenty of time to perfect it. The album's lead single, "Too Easy" featuring Future, released on September 24th last year and peaked at #16 on the Billboard Hot 100. The YSL signee beat out The Weeknd for the top spot on the Billboard 200 chart, selling 150,300 records in comparison to The Weeknd's 148,000, making DS4Ever his second straight #1 album. The continuous growth over the last few years are beautiful to see from Gunna, as he's officially a veteran star in this industry, and no longer a young prodigy. A lot has changed for Gunna in the four years since Drip Season 3 was released, and we hear a lot of it on this 20 track album.
The introduction to this album is super solid in my opinion, as Gunna looks back at the difference in his life now in comparison to before the fame while still staying in his braggadocious pocket of rapping. I can see the issues that people may have with Gunna's style of hip-hop, as it does get quite repetitive sometimes, however, I think that he stays true to his sound and doesn't get too uncomfortable on record. An artist being true to themselves is the best thing that they can do, and Gunna definitely that well on this track. The immediate switch up from reflection with light flexing to full blown flexing is apparent on "pushin P" featuring Young Thug and Future. I have no personal issue with the record itself, but as someone born and raised in the Bay Area, the controversy the song has caused over the term "P" is valid. The meaning of the term has been lost in the same sense that the Bay Area term "slap" has been lost on the internet in recent years.
According to Gunna, the term is a substitution for the word "player", and while that has truth to it, the term actually is a short way of saying "pimp" or referring to pimping. The way that Gunna is using the term isn't wrong based on his definition, but again, that's not the root of the term. I have no issue with words or terms having multiple meanings, but the erasure of Bay Area culture in hip-hop has become too normalized over the past two decades. This isn't a shot at Gunna or the city of Atlanta in any sense, I just want people to understand and know the roots of a term before using it in a different way. For the term "P", I have no issue, but for the term "slap", it's been used incorrectly for years now and it's too far gone to continue trying to correct people who aren't from here. I came to the conclusion that we just have to let people be ignorant of things and let them look dumb while speaking to my cousin about it the week the album released and we seen people using the term "P" wrong all over social media. I just hate seeing my culture used incorrectly, as anyone in any region in the country would.
The two records that follow, ""poochie gown" and "mop" with another Thug feature, are pretty regular to me, nothing special but not bad records. The latter has a stronger beat, but lyrics are pretty mainstream, something that you wouldn't mind hearing in the background or at a kickback. The two records that follow are the best two songs on the album in my opinion: "thought i was playing" featuring 21 Savage and "P power" featuring Drake. The former is a violent record, but it sounds so good that you'll forget unless you're actively listening. Both Gunna and 21 Savage get their threats and promises off over the Mike Will Made-It instrumental. 21 Savage in particular was amazing on this track, as this is clearly his lane of hip-hop. The stretch of features that he's been on lately is a great one, and I'm definitely looking forward to his next solo project.
The highlight of the album in my opinion isn't the super-viral and trendy "pushin P", but "P power". The record leaked with a snippet of of Gunna and Metro Boomin in the studio and an early version of the instrumental a few days before the album's release, and I knew it was going to be a hit. I said it would be a hit before I even realized Drake was featuring on it, but that made the song even better in my opinion. The song's sample of a woman moaning definitely stands out, but the song doesn't sample an adult film like most assumed. The actual sample is from Donna Summer's 1976 record "Could It Be Magic". The Queen of Disco was famous for her sexually charged songs, and the background instrumental plus her vocals made for the perfect setup on this record in my opinion. The way that Gunna and Drake set the tone with their flows over this instrumental is great as well, and there are two versions of the song. The original cut has more of Donna Summer vocals interpolated throughout the verses, but the cut on the album was much more polished and messed with her vocals more. I prefer the original cut but the polished version is growing on me. I played both versions to show the difference on Episode 95 of my podcast if you want to hear the difference for yourself.
To be completely honest, the next record on the album isn't bad or anything, but as someone who doesn't support Kodak Black because of his antics and convictions over the past couple of years, I've only listened to it a couple of times, in order to give an opinion on it for this article. For this record I really do enjoy the beat, and both artists sound great as they rap about what's pretty mainstream today. The record isn't anything special in particular, just a solid all around song for an album like this. "alotta cake" is one of the records that are perfect for parties or events, something that can get people moving a little bit, but nothing too crazy or with lyrics that you have to pay attention to per se. To follow a record like that, Gunna decided to go to the other end of the spectrum with "livin wild", as he raps about his personal struggles, including critics and drug addiction. It's good to see Gunna get more personal on a record without sounding out of his element. The beat also contains a sample of Keith Sweat's 1991 record "Why Me Baby?".
The next record, "you & me", seemed to confirm some rumors about the relationship, or start of one, between Gunna and Chloe Bailey. The record is a direct sample of two 1997 R&B classics: Jon B's "They Don't Know" and Usher's "Nice & Slow". Gunna has a verse between hooks, and Chloë comes in with her strong voice to end the reocrd off before it mixes back into the sample. I enjoyed hearing the two together, and I expect the other track they did together to end up on Chloë's debut album whenever that releases (Gunna said in an interview last year that the duo finished 2 songs together in the studio). It's nice to hear when modern artists pay homage to classic songs, and while some people didn't enjoy this song in particular, I did.
The next three songs on the album, "south to west", "25k jacket" and "too easy" aren't necessarily skips in my opinion, but they don't stand out either. That's not to say that they weren't enjoyable songs, as they could have replay value in plenty of settings, but for the sake of the album, this is when the repetitive sound critique comes into play. The best song of the trio to me is "25k jacket" which has a feature from Lil Baby, but even that song sounds like streaming filler instead of a record that had to be on the album. In my opinion, that song could've been a stand alone single, or been the only record kept out of the trio.
I truly enjoyed hearing G Herbo on a record with Gunna, as it wasn't something that I expected when listening to this album. Herbo dodged the "can't stay on beat allegations" as well, delivering a solid verse on "idk that bitch" over the instrumental. "flooded" in my opinion is what a record by Gunna should sound like. He flexed his vocals and still got all of his rhymes off, keeping everything in the braggadocious pocket of hip-hop that he's mastered. It's also straight to the point and isn't dragged out to try and please the hip-hop heads that don't respect shorter songs. The two songs that follow are both great, "life of sin" and "die alone" but the former has a feature from Neechie that I didn't personally enjoy. Gunna was a lot smoother over the instrumental, but Neechie's voice seemed to cut through the beat more than melt into it in my opinion. "die alone" is the better record regardless, as Yung Bleu and Chris Brown were great additions to another introspective track on the album.
In regards to the bonus track that's put at the end, I'm gonna cover it before getting to the outro track. The remix to "too easy" with Roddy Ricch is a much better version than the original to me. Remember when I said that the songs sounded like filler because they didn't stand out? A feature like Roddy takes that away, because it changes the vibe of the record from jump since Roddy starts it out. I appreciate this record being put on the album, but this should've been the version that was on the album in the first place, without the need of a remix.
To close out the album, I think Gunna did a solid job, as "missing me" and "so far ahead>empire" could have both been the outro, but keeping both set the tone of an ending very well together. "so far ahead>empire" is the longest Gunna record that I've listened to, but not in a bad way. The knock on artists like Gunna is that they can't make longer records like these without sounding like they're either doing too much or out of their element, but he does it well here. This is a great outro for the album to put a close on the Drip Season series.
Gunna is definitely on the right track with his career, as he's continued to grow steadily with sales as well as his sound over the past few years. Drip Season 4EVER is a solid album, and while it isn't perfect, it's definitely still a good album in my opinion. I look forward to hearing more of Gunna's work moving forward, as he continues to grow as both a man and as an artist.
Final Verdict: 79/100 (C+)