Two of Hip Hop’s fastest rising stars Lil Baby and Gunna linkup to release ‘ Drip Harder’, using their sonic chemistry to create one of the more bragadocious albums of 2018.

Two of Young Thug’s proteges attempt to replicate the musical styling that was once Rich Gang by dropping their own project, titled Drip HarderDrip Harder pays homage to Baby and Gunna’s respective Harder and Drip series of mixtapes, releases that skyrocketed their careers in 2018. As their solo careers climb into stardom, it only made sense that two of the hottest artists collab. Drip Harder is a project that shows the sonic bond between the duo.  The album is the encapsulation of producers, artists, features all understand each other and understand the initiative.

Joint albums seem to be a tumultuous thing in Hip Hop. The proponent of bringing together two solo rappers and trying to find the room on a track to allow for one another to shine is a near impossible thing to do. No artist wants to be out shined by the other and when there’s limited space on the project for areas to shine,  there are 3 times the amount where a track can fall flat on it’s face. Over the past few years, we’ve seen more than a fair share of collab albums that fell on their face (see Huncho Jack, Without Warning, T-Wayne), a  trend that has continued since the iconic JAY-Z and Kanye West album Watch the Throne.

Where Lil Baby and Gunna benefit on Drip Harder is being rappers of the new school. Being so intune with the youth allows them to explore their sounds while not sacrificing the artistry. The 13-track project is aided with top tier production that reels listeners in, holding their attention span for a moderately sized album while still leaving them wanting more.

The hypnotic and lucid beat choices help instrumentalize both Gunna and Lil Baby’s voices while acting as a foundation to the Drip Harder formula.The production all through Drip Harder finds the perfect balance between beats you would hear plastered throughout a Lil Baby project and more soft, slower beats that are more synonymous with Gunna’s work. Having the sounds range from  dark, violent trap beats to more soft, laid back beats with lower bpm. Executive producer Turbo is  plastered throughout the project, creating his best work on the title track “Drip Too Hard” with one of the best beats in 2018.

The chemistry of Lil Baby and Gunna acts as a catalyst for their friendly competition. When Lil Baby delivers a raw and authentic verse, Gunna fires back with one of his hood melodies, when Lil’ Baby flexes with his Amiri jeans,  Gunna will remind you how much his  new piece cost from his jeweler. The dynamic created by the duo is playful, as their relationship seems as genuine as it possibly could be.

With chemistry comes contrast, and unlike previous collab albums, this is where their sound eclipses their contemporaries who explore collab albums. Gunna’s flow is as melodic as it comes, coming off as audible and the perfect complementary piece for Lil Baby, who comes off as rough on the edges, sometimes coming off as purposefully inaudible while  and  hardened.

Two of the first three tracks on the album “Business Is Business,” and “Belly”—exhibits how their flows, melodies, content, and contrasting cadences work cohesively as if the duo are on the same exact page.

A common criticism that is found with Gunna and Lil Baby’s rap content, is that it is all through a superficial lens. Although this is true,Gunna and Baby find unique and catchy ways to get their point across. As with other niche artist, Gunna and Lil Baby operate in their pocket whilst providing the hood anthems that the world deserves.

But like all good pairings, Gunna and Lil Baby struggle when separated on their solo tracks through the album. It becomes crystal clear by the end of the album that these two artists should be inseparable, and a lot deals with the sound they’ve created, alongside their executive producer Turbo. Turbo, like the majority of rap stars found his work deeply ingrained within the Atlanta-trap sound. But rather than following his predecessors such as Metro Boomin, his style is more subtle, driven by moody tones and minimalistic sounds. “Business Is Business” and “Belly” are examples of how turbo elevates the sound created by the ATL duo to a whole other stratosphere, acting as a guideline to the young artists.

What Gunna and Lil Baby have that all other fast rising stars strive for is the most powerful cosign in the Hip Hop industry, and that comes from none other than Drake. With previous relationship and a previous record with Lil Baby, the shrewd operator Drake shows up  and delivers  on “Never Recover,” the last song on Drip Harder.Drake seems to take out a page from Gunna’s school of rap and spits at a blistering fast pace. It’s easily some of Drake’s best work in recent years, as Drake comes out of his PC shell and talk’s his sh**. Notk to be outdone by the rap megastar, Baby and Gunna deliver do more than hold their own.

In a self indulgent and superficial sport that rap is, we need more people like Lil Baby and Gunna. We need more authentic rappers that can flex with the best of them without coming off as corny, and Drip Harder signals their arrival as stars in the Drip world and in rap.

Grade:7/10

Best Tracks: Belly, Never Recover, Business is Business, Drip Too Hard

Ananth Para
paramana@mcmaster.ca

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