The most slept-on gives us product that's stepped on.
Gunplay, AKA Don Logan, has had a rough ride as a rapper. Once a ghost writer for Trina, alongside his current employer Rick Ross, he has spent the last few years adapting himself to the current rap landscape, painting himself as a lyrically adept yet drug-addled maniac; if you wanted to reduce him to absolute caricature, imagine a guy dressed like Waka Flocka Flame doing the scene from "Always Sunny" where Charlie Day kicks open the door of a van while screaming out "WILD CARD, BITCHES!!!!" Yeah, that guy made a rap album.
It hasn’t been the easiest of transitions to the top though. While in that strange world of 2011/2012 where the rap internet had yet to feel as exhausted, the Triple Cs member was the ‘secret weapon’ of a Maybach Music Group that’d recently acquired the likes of Meek Mill and Wale known for dropping franticly aggressive fight music, bragging on his coke addiction or his odd penchant for facist imagery. However, whereas his trapper contemporaries like Waka Flocka Flame were known for brute force, Gunplay had the dexterity of his Slip-n-Slide background, and a lyrical bent to his brutishness that recalled old-school Southern throwbacks like Willie D. It was an easy sell, or so it seemed at the time, but a handful of singles came and went to no success, and a guaranteed show-stealer of a guest verse on Kendrick Lamar’s "Cartoon & Cereal" was denied of good kid, m.A.A.d city fame. Between that and his own legal issues, the ever familiar saga of album delays began to swallow up the hopes of Gunplay’s debut.
So here we are in the summer of 2015, with Living Legend to behold. Unfortunately, the whole album is suffering from a number of problems. To begin, when Gunplay had fully started to embody his concept, it was alongside a lot of the newfound aggression in trap music, specifically the beats of Lex Luger. Luger had helped secure his benefactor, Rick Ross', ascension to the then-king of the streets via undeniable anthems like "BMF" and "MC Hammer." So likewise, it was the Luger-forged "Rollin," featuring Waka Flocka, that brought him to prominence because they were so jarring and fresh. On Living Legend, though, there is no evolution-- instead we’re treated to a lot of generic retreads of records we’d been subjected to for years now. Whether its the seriousness of "Just Won’t Do," with guest vocalist PKJ’s ugly rapsing getting masked by auto-tune, or the clamour of "Be Like Me," so many records sound like attempted-refurbishments of what this man's used to. It's as if so much of his identity is built around this sound which, to be honest, he was always kind of an opportunist sneaking his way into. Perhaps that, the self-conscious novelty aspects, or the fact that he was just so obviously older than everyone in the trapper scene. 36 is pretty long in the tooth to be forced to sell yourself as a "new" rapper after all.
Occasionally he tried to break up the monotonous tendencies with a few attempts to modernize and keep up with the kids, without seeming too trendy. But even his curve-balls feel rather limp-wristed. On "Chain Smokin" produced by and featuring Maybach Music Group affiliate Stalley, he’s utterly outclassed by the king of weed rap Curren$y, who’s completely at home on the Michael Jackson sample polished up (but he can still rap circles around Stalley, so its not a total loss). And it isn’t just the fact that he struggles to connect with DJ Mustard and YG on "Wuzhanindoe?" that really takes the bite out of it, but the fact that its a remake of YG’s “BPT” (itself a remake to replace "Bompton" from Just Re’d-Up 2). Gunplay seems to have lost the ear for any potential hits, if he’s even being allowed to select from the cream of the crop these days.
It's not just the lackluster selection of beats which make Living Legend a chore, this just doesn’t sound like the same ol’ Don Logan. Album opener "Tell ‘Em" is simply a sloppily delivered list of things that you could compare Gunplay to, paying lazy tribute to Cam’ron’s "Get ‘em Daddy"; his Rick Ross duet "Be Like Me" features the two old comrades forcing out as much enthusiasm and hollow threats as they can to no avail. The heart of his old aggression is just not there, and he rarely indulges his introspective or philosophical side with the sort of clarity like he used to; when he talks about the irony of smiley faces on the bricks in "Dark Dayz," his delivery lacks the urgency and emotion that gave him the potential to be so overwhelming. So by the time the mandatory R&B motivation of "Leave The Game" comes along, featuring a typically out-of-key Masspike Miles, you’re left wondering what the point was for all the fanfare and fireworks.