Tuesday, October 2nd, 2018

Lil Baby & Gunna – Drip Too Hard

Not enough, actually…


Crystal Leww: Lil Baby and Gunna are a mumbly, melodic pair of rappers from Georgia. “Drip Too Hard” is the lead single off their collaborative mixtape, and though it’s light, it also doesn’t wear out its welcome in its 2:30 runtime. They are poised to be the Young Thug and Rich Homie Quan for a new generation, and while the hook here doesn’t bang nearly as hard as “Lifestyle,” there’s something here that makes you feel as though a little bit of spit and polish might get them there soon enough.

Joshua Minsoo Kim: The opener on Lil Baby’s debut mixtape featured a confession: “I think I’m a junkie, I need rehab, I’m addicted to the lean.” It was a memorable first impression, one that clearly indicated that this Young Thug-indebted rapper was worthwhile for how openly he’d allow listeners witness the somber realities of his life. These sort of lines have always been offset by his drive to succeed — the aforementioned song featured a hook that declared, “I know times get hard but it’s gon’ pay off” — and his best songs have always followed a similar model. His Harder Than Ever album, Drake co-sign included, found him distancing himself from that style. It’s a natural progression, and I wouldn’t want for him to go back to that sort of miserablism, but it’s unveiled how little else he has to offer. On “Drip Too Hard,” he links up with trusty partner and Young Thug affiliate Gunna. The two are being heralded by some as the second coming of Thugger and Rich Homie Quan, but I’m left bewildered by the comparison. During the Miami sessions that birthed their most iconic material, Thug and Quan would record in the booth together, passing each other the mic as Alex Tumay would have to mix vocals on the fly. That studio kinship was evident in how the two would effortlessly bounce their flows and personalities off each other to create music that was greater than the sum of its parts. While the title is a cute reference to both of their mixtapes’ naming schemes, “Drip Too Hard” does little to convince listeners that the two have much chemistry beyond sounding equally joyless in their boasting. Lil Baby’s wavering voice sounds like he’s holding back tears: slightly interesting, but ultimately a gimmick that doesn’t do much beyond being a marginal contrast to Gunna’s smoother delivery. While Gunna has yet to really prove himself on his own mixtapes, it would have been nice to see him utilized more if only to inject the song with a bit more color. The most damning evidence that these two will need to do a whole lot more to warrant a collaborative mixtape is “Life Goes On,” a track that lays bare how monotonous the two sound together once Lil Uzi Vert appears. Drip Harder indeed.

Jacob Sujin Kuppermann: The spiritual descendants of 2014/2015-era Rich Gang, with Gunna taking on Rich Homie Quan’s more pugilistic raps and Lil Baby doing his best Young Thug impression, down to the way he lounges all over the track with a glorious hook that feels longer than either of the verses. It doesn’t do much to shed that legacy act feeling, but it doesn’t really need to when they both sound more energized here than either of their forebearers have recently, and more focused than they did on their respective big name guest spots this year.

Julian Axelrod: The only thing more exciting than an incredible rap duo is watching an incredible rap duo come together, and “Drip Too Hard” is the coronation of Lil Baby and Gunna as an incredible rap duo. (Trio if you count Turbo, quartet if you count Turbo’s library of psychedelic spaghetti Western guitar loops.) It’s quietly breathtaking to watch them bring the best out of each other: Gunna pushes Lil Baby’s urgent croon into a more expressionist avenue, while Baby’s melodic wizardry elevates Gunna’s workmanlike blues into a soul-baring symphony. (If Gunna wasn’t one of the best rappers of 2018 before, “I feel like a child, I got boogers in the face” sealed the deal.) The song’s slightness doesn’t feel disappointing; it’s just a tantalizing taste of the future of rap.

Juan F. Carruyo: Punk length, skeevy sounding sample, distorted 808. This features all the hallmarks of the modern rap sound. The rhymes don’t matter because they are just another percussion instrument. And that in and of itself is enjoyable enough, but clearly the market’s saturated by now and this tune doesn’t separate enough from the pack. 

Nicholas Donohoue: I don’t trust anyone who doesn’t overlay an extended metaphor of dripping water with Rainy Mood.

Micha Cavaseno: If you’d have told me that, in 2018, some of the most joyless and self-serious rap would be coming out of Atlanta, of all places, I’d be calling you crazy. Such is the world we live in.

Taylor Alatorre: If nothing else, these guys deserve a prize for showing that it’s possible to convey a sense of urgency in rapping without turning your voice up to 11 or speed reading a thesaurus. Gunna in particular pushes out syllables like he’s working against the clock, as if 2:25 were an arbitrary time frame he set for himself. Somehow, he still manages to sound nonchalant (and a lot like Young Thug, of course) while doing so. The wound-up energy of the delivery finds a solid foundation in the sped-up guitar loop, which wavers and wobbles as it rises and falls before returning to its starting point and back again — a tightly managed chaos.

Jibril Yassin: Stylistic allegiances to Thug aside, what makes “Drip Too Hard” work is just how both Gunna & Lil Baby seem to understand their role to one another — both pushing each other to the point where the song seems to blaze with a reckless, chaotic energy. Over one of the catchiest productions of the year, the two manage to capture their chemistry in a bottle. 

Ryo Miyauchi: Young Thug has been the North Star for the music of both of these rappers, and it shows more here in Lil Baby and his abrupt pauses in his verses. That said, “Drip Too Hard” moves away from their guide ever so slightly by also mixing a drop of the Baton Rouge blues into the formula. The two squeezing a sweet melody out of a document of tour exhaustion recalls equally Kevin Gates as much as Thugger. They have still yet to graduate from studying their favored Southern styles, though they’re getting a little closer.

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