Published May 15, 2020Grimy, soulful and rife with the infectious, gun-like ad libs we have grown to love, Westside Gunn's third studio effort is largely without flaw. On Pray for Paris, Gunn keeps his feet firmly planted in one of hip-hop's bygone ages, delivering crass bars over murky, retro beats that sound plucked straight from the early '90s.
Some might perceive this as a dying trend and indeed, other artists who don't get off the '90s train soon will crash and burn. But Gunn's squeaky lisp and brawny delivery simply demand an old-school sound and on Paris, he masters his lane, however narrow.
Production is a team effort on Paris with heavyweights like DJ Premier ("Shawn vs. Flair"), The Alchemist ("500 Dollar Ounces", "Claiborne Kick") and Camoflauge Monk ("327", "French Toast") making stellar contributions. Although there are no weak links from a beatmaker's perspective, "Versace" is especially impressive as it marks a bizarre, but deeply satisfying pivot from Vine comedian Jay Versace.
Though Gunn's vintage sound might not work for everyone, Pray for Paris is a total delight for those who want to reminisce without feeling stuck in the past. (Griselda)