Monday, February 11th, 2019

Russ ft. Taze, LD, Digga D, Ms Banks & Lethal Bizzle – Gun Lean (Remix)

Left, right, left, right.


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Joshua Minsoo Kim: Did we really get two high profile rap songs with ching chong jokes in the span of a couple weeks? The original version of “Gun Lean” didn’t contain that line, but I can’t be too upset with this remix; it’s too amusing to hear a UK drill song teaching you its namesake’s dance. After all the controversy and clamor that drill music has caused, the chart success of a song like this — one “for everyone, boys and girls” — is a cheeky spit in the face to all the naysayers. Some of the features do well (LD, Digga D), others don’t (Lethal Bizzle), but this is ultimately about how Gotcha Bxtch’s skeletal beat acts as a sinister backdrop to some simple shoulder leans. If this could replace every instance of “Cha Cha Slide” and “Cupid Shuffle” at the weddings I attend this year, that’d be great.
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Thomas Inskeep: Goddamn if UK drill isn’t some of the most exciting music being made right now, akin to grime a decade ago, come to think. The “Gun Lean” remix brings the two together (not that that they’re that far apart) by pulling in grime legend Lethal Bizzle for its last verse — but don’t allow that to take your focus away from Russ, or from any of his other guests here. Everyone here’s got skills, and they all fit together nicely; this doesn’t sound like a single with a bunch of features, it sounds like a crew track. The original of “Gun Lean” is great, and this remix actually improves upon it.
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Iain Mew: At the same time as the vilification of UK drill reaches a new height with artists Skengdo & AM getting a prison sentence for performing their song, the genre has its biggest commercial breakthrough to date. It’s unsurprising that it’s a friendlier face of it, but “Gun Lean” sounding like a catatonic version of guest Lethal Bizzle’s “RariWorkOut” goes a bit far. The remix taking out the casual homophobia of Russ’s solo version only to put in a Jet Li reference there for racism purposes is also the definition of a mixed blessing.
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Iris Xie: I have a weakness for a very low and booming bassline, it’s just really soothing and grounding. Above the booms floats 5 raps that cut in diagonal textures, sandwiched by a chorus that breathes with pace. This creates different auditory patterns for each rapper, some with razor thin lines and sinewy curls, and others with jagged cuts and clipped corners. One could create sculptures from how they play with spatiality here. 
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Alfred Soto: The looped beat forces the five credited rappers into orbits like planets around a cooling sun. Some words are cleverer than others, with the “ching/chong” bit the kind of elementary school-aged smut that never fails to clang but often, regrettably, works in rap.
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Julian Axelrod: The beat is barely there: just a bass squelch, a sprinkling of drums, and the ghost of a seesaw synth. It should be the ideal setting for a grime posse cut. (When you’ve got five rappers on a track, the last thing you need is a cluttered canvas.) But while Russ & Friends throw out bar after bar, nothing seems to stick. Once the song fades out, I don’t remember a single line — just that whisper of a beat snaking into the sky.
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Jonathan Bradley: It’s apparently terrifying — music that demands police action — but, in its trip across the Atlantic, drill seems to have lost some of the volatility that made Chicago such a transfixing rap center earlier this decade. “Gun Lean” has gloom, and a bass that has absorbed that mass of ill-feeling, but the MCs in this remix are cramped and crabby. I went back to “L’s Anthem” and “I Don’t Like” to be sure, but it’s true: this music was once more than headlines and moral panic.
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2 Responses to “Russ ft. Taze, LD, Digga D, Ms Banks & Lethal Bizzle – Gun Lean (Remix)”

  1. @Joshua: holy crap I didn’t know it had a ‘ching chong line’ – it must’ve slipped past my listening

  2. lol it wasn’t wholly responsible for why i didn’t blurb this, but i definitely said “uh yeah i think i can do without writing about this one for today”

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