Griselda lynchpin Westside Gunn inaugurates his major label account with a fine new album, one whose curatorial grasp firmly establishes a supporting pantheon that includes some true rap greats. It thrives when the rapper is true to himself, and only falters when his ambitions overhaul his grasp.
It’s a succinct 11 tracker, one in which Westside Gunn acts as conductor over an array of production talent and guest features. Griselda cohorts Daringer and Beat Butcha come to the fore on opening one-two ‘Sunshine’ and ‘The Butcher And The Blade’, but it’s the Alchemist helmed ‘All Praises’ that truly stands out, it’s entrancing depth resulting in one of Gunn’s pivotal rap performances on the project.
‘Ocean Prime’ finds the Buffalo rap artist going toe-to-toe with two MC inspirations, affording him space in the booth with Slick Rick and Busta Rhymes. It’s more than a nostalgia trip, too, with Westside Gunn clearly relishing the moment on one of the record’s most straight-forwardly enjoyable hip-hop moments.
Slick Rick returns on ‘Good Night’, but perhaps the most emphatic run of features comes on the complex, instinctive ‘Frank Murphy’, where the Conducter Williams arrangement arrives armed with bars from Stove God Cooks, Flee Lord, Estee Nack, ElCamino, and Smoke DZA.
Arriving a few days after an emotional documentary – in which Westside Gunn visits his cousin’s grave - ‘Who Made The Sunshine?’ feels like a fresh slate for the Buffalo artist. Drawing on the weight of his experience to carve out fresh opportunity, it’s a record that – only at moments, mind you – contains some of his best work.
Words: Robin Murray
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