Since breaking away from Triple C’s, Rick Ross protégé Gunplay has garnered a significant buzz both with his mixtapes as well as his off the mic controversies, which include a 2012 charge of armed robbery and the infamous scuffle with 50 Cent's entourage backstage at the BET Hip Hop Awards.
While his long-awaited debut studio album Living Legend has still yet to be released, the Florida MC dropped an eponymous mixtape to hold fans over.
Gunplay, hosted by DJ Epps and DJ Nasty, utilized other rappers' beats as well as some original material. From a production standpoint, the mixtape features a fair amount of that signature Maybach Music sound mixed with some of 2014’s biggest hip hop hits, like Pusha T's “Numbers on the Board,” Lil Wayne and Drake's “Believe Me” and Future's “Move That Dope.”
One of Gunplay’s most notable strengths is his authenticity, which is prevalent throughout the mixtape but especially on songs like the UGK ode “Break ‘Em Off,” the Ross-assisted “Aiight,” and the Bobby Shmurda summer anthem “Hot N--a,” on which Gunplay raps about keeping his identity despite his newfound fame.
“I got signed ain’t s**t changed/I still sell crack cocaine, loud and mid-grade, n****s talkin’ money ain’t banked none yet/N****s talk about killin’ ain’t stank nothin’ yet/When a n***a slide whole 'hood say they heard I did it/Threw the throw aways in the air like a Shmurda fitted,” he rhymed.
Like the aforementioned Pusha T, Gunplay seems most comfortable when he’s rapping about selling dope and facing the prospect of jail time, like on the Latin-infused “10 G’s” and the Meek Mill track “Heaven or Hell,” the latter of which saw an introspective Gunplay contemplating the future of doing time while also exacting a violent revenge on his foes.
“Is this it?/Is this what I deserve?/Red jumper fitting like they had one in reserve/So alone, feeling like the only one on the Earth/Shackled wrist to ankle mama lookin’ worried and scurred/Immediate revenge before the verdict was served/Shoot a n***a s**t up, don’t alert him is worse/Talk about revenge that’s a perfect deterrent/These degrees gon’ burn you, you gon’ suffer the third/Baking soda in the bird turn feathers to fur,” he threatened.
The biggest surprise on Gunplay was the rapper’s ability to adapt to some of those East Coast sounding tracks like “J.O.B.” and “Savages,” which had that mid- to late '90s piano-laden sound that The Firm used to flourish with.
While the perpetually embattled spitter’s raw emotion and intricate street knowledge helped him paint detailed pictures of his troubled life, his flow lacked consistency. To his credit, the better the beat, the more you could sense his hunger, such as on “Believe Me” and “Move That Dope.” But songs like “Open Letter” and “Wanna Be Somebody” felt hastily put together and inferior in quality.
With the financial and moral backing of one of hip hop’s most powerful empires, and an unapologetic authenticity that resonates with people who understand life on the streets, the pressure is on for Gunplay’s debut LP to do some pretty sizable numbers. This self-titled mixtape offers a decent appetizer.
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(Photo: MMG/Bilderburg Group)