Is there a better way to celebrate dodging serious felony charges than releasing a triumphant mixtape called Acquitted? Maybach Music Group spark plug Gunplay couldn’t think of one. With an assault and robbery case behind him and an open lane in the industry in his sights, the fiery Carol City, FL, representative is doing his best to prove that he’s more than just MMG boss Rick Ross’ main flunkie.
Though his star presence and charisma is undeniable, the former Triple C member has struggled to prove that he has the artistic talent necessary to become a viable solo artist. His last release was January’s Cops & Robbers tape, which failed to match the impact of 2012’s 601 & Snort. Acquitted, however, is a step in the right direction. With a minimalist approach (just 10 tracks) and a dedication to exploring his usual sonic comfort zone of dark street ballads and up-tempo trunk rattlers, Acquitted may be the best measure of Gunplay’s artistic potential that we’ve heard.
In the intro, over the infamous strings of Godfather 2’s “Marcia Religiosa” (famously sampled on Jay-Z and Nas’ “Black Republican”), Gunplay updates listeners on his legal troubles using audio clips from news coverage. From there, he jumps into “Salute Me,” showing evolved songwriting skills that build emotion with each bar. “I walk through the streets, collar and leash on the mark of the beast,” he spits ominously, showcasing his often overlooked potential as a lyricist.
He keeps things dark on “Drop Da Tint,” channeling the vibe that made his “Bible on tha Dash” such a hit. “You think I give a f--k what yo’ computer say?/ Have you p----ing in your True’s when the rugger raise.” “D.O.P.E.” speeds things up with pulsing 808s and a feature from his Triple C crew, but fails to live up to its catchy concept. “Topside,” featuring Brick Squad upstart Young Scooter, is another example of a song that may have been a banger if it included Ross or fellow MMG upstart Meek Mill to help pick up the creative slack.
Ultimately, the tape continues with clichéd references to violence, coke and mob ties, and it becomes clear that Gunplay still isn’t ready for solo stardom. He loses momentum with tracks like “Cocaina (Que Linda)” and “Get Like Me” and the collection comes to a complete halt on the sing-songy, snare-heavy club track “Been Did It.” Though his powerful voice is able to emit emotion and his street cred gives him a leg up on most of his gangsta rap peers, Gunplay still doesn’t have what it takes to make a truly notable project in today’s humid hip hop climate. He attempts to save things by recycling his greatest solo moment, the aforementioned “Bible on tha Dash,” for the closing track. Sadly, that only serves as a reminder of what he’s capable of, making the rest of his new project pale in comparison.
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