Westside Gunn – Pray for Paris

Buffalo rapper, Westside Gunn has released his new 13-track album, which was mostly written over two days he spent in Paris.

This was Westside Gunn’s first time out of the U.S. after he was invited to attend Virgil Abloh’s Off-White fashion show in the city. Abloh also designed the album’s artwork.

With some heavyweight production from DJ Muggs, Tyler the Creator, Camo Monk, Alchemist, DJ Premier and more, the beats bang throughout this 40-something-minute selection.

With opulent piano lines, hazy synths, rolling basslines, and neck-snapping snares, the production owes much more to vintage boom-bap than it does to trap.

The guest list is also strong, with the likes of Joey Badass, Tyler the Creator, Freddie Gibbs, Wale, Roc Marciano, and Boldy James joining frequent collaborators Conway the Machine and Benny the Butcher.

Lyrically, Westside Gunn keeps his ears locked to the streets, such as with the deceptively relaxed ‘327:’

Westside Gunn’s high-pitched, insistent vocals are frequently interspersed with vocalized automatic gunfire to punctuate the cocaine raps, but there are some softer moments too, such as the R&B inflected ‘French Toast.’

If there is a complaint it is the number of skits and samples that crop up between the tracks. While they are fine for a while, they will almost certainly tire and become skip-fodder after a few listens.

However, this doesn’t detract from the quality of the tracks themselves, with other highlights including the dusty loops and slow-paced roll of ‘$500 Ounces:’

And the instant-classic boom-bap of ‘Shawn vs. Flair:’

The album comes to a close with the poetic ‘Party Wit Pop Smoke’ (featuring Keisha Plum) and the stripped-back ‘LE Djoliba:’

Griselda Records have come up with the goods again as they continue to blaze the trail for hardcore East Coast hip-hop into the 2020s.

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