There’s an all-too-brief moment near the end of Drip or Drown 2 where Atlanta mumbler Gunna actually does something semi-interesting, by performing one of contemporary trap’s greatest acts of mimicry. On “Three Headed Snake,” Gunna is joined by his mentor, Young Thug, and the two proceed to try and mirror one another’s eccentric vocalizations, and seamlessly trade-off outlandish verses (Thug nervously proclaims, “Jeepers creepers, the gators got measles”) while delivering half-warbled bars about how many women they’ve ‘slimed’ in their lives. It’s exciting to see such chemistry between a master and his student, but it also highlights Gunna’s biggest problem as an artist: he’s nothing much beyond a Young Thug imitator, one who’s rarely as exciting — and much easier to get a general read on after a quick listen.
The first seven tracks on Drip or Drown 2 highlight this problem to an almost numbing degree, as Gunna’s only real vocal quirk — slurring his words enough that it could technically count as singing, if you’re not paying much attention — gets tiring nearly instantaneously, while Turbo and Weezy’s largely colorless trap production (the latter’s at his most soulless when he aims for mystic orientalism, with a Tong Li sample on “Who You Foolin”) doesn’t help matters either. Even the few moments that break the monotony of indifferently muttered brags on which this project generally relies can’t help but be as derivative as possible, usually ripping-off ideas that Young Thug executed better several years ago. “On a Mountain” features a lightly-strummed guitar melody that’s clearly aping Beautiful Thugger Girls’ aesthetic, and “Cash War” feels like a less-enthusiastic retread of “Stunna.” It seems Gunna has become a victim of his own success, where his ability to match the outlandish timbre of one of this generation’s most ingenious performers has also boxed him in, creatively — he really has drowned in his own drip.
Published as part of What Would Meek Do? | Issue 7