INTERVIEW: Gunna explains how he went from a Young Thug fan to a Young Thug collaborator and reveals plans for a YSL group album.
You may know Gunna from his memorable contribution to Young Thug's Jeffery highlight "Floyd Mayweather," where he holds his own alongside Thug, Gucci Mane and Travis Scott. Everyone involved has years of experience in the industry on Gunna, but the College Park rapper is a fast learner, and sounds less like a student than a peer on the record as he trades bars with some of the biggest names in Southern rap. And to think, Gunna wasn't taking music all that seriously just a year ago.
So how does one go from rapping as a hobby to getting on a track with Gucci in a few months time? Well, a Young Thug co-sign helps. Gunna is the newest signee to Thug's YSL Records imprint under 300. The two met through an acquaintance in Atlanta and had enough chemistry for Thug to give him a deal.
Drip Season, Gunna's debut mixtape, was released last year and introduces him as an emotional vocalist with a studied grasp on the New Atlanta sound -- it's not surprising that he grew up listening to Thug and Future. As far as the music he aims to create, the rapper suggests it's all dictated by the inherent flashiness of Atlanta style and culture. "We come with fly shit -- lot of clothes and a lot of expensive cars and all that shit -- it helps with the music," he says. Gunna is known to brag about how he's "drippin," a descriptor reserved for those whose swag or "sauce" is so pervasive that it oozes off of them. It's this natural comfort in writing and performance that transcends his relative inexperience and gives him the ability to stand tall next to rap giants. Gunna may be taking notes from Thug, but you can't teach drippin', it's something you're born with.
When did you first start doing your own music?
I've been doing music since a kid. Like 13, 14, I started rapping. I was just fucking around them. I just started getting serious last year.
What was it that inspired you to focus on a rap career?
I kinda got like all the way being around music with major artists. When I started hanging with major artists and seeing that they doing the same shit I’m already doing. I felt like I could just do it and win with the music.
Was Young Thug one of the first people you met in the industry?
Yeah, he was one of them.
How did you guys link up?
I met him through one of my big homies. Like one of my uncles, one of the old OGs introduced me to him.
At what point did you get in the studio together?
I pulled up on him at a video shoot. The “With That” video shoot. When we left from the shoot we pulled to the studio.
Me and Thug did that song and Guwop and Travis heard it and they jumped on it, so I fuck with them for that.
What’s it like to write and record with Thug?
We just vibe. We have pretty girls in the studio and we just vibe.
He seems like he'd be a strong creative presence.
He’s a genius, and I’m a genius too. Two geniuses together, just imagine that. It’s crazy, I love working with him, that’s like a brother of mine.
Why did you decide to call your project Drip Season?
I’m drippin’. Every time you see me I’m drippin’. Fashion, I’m having that shit on. “Floyd Mayweather” really was called “Drip,” and then it was “Drip Season,” so I just named the tape Drip Season.
Who are some of the producers you’ve been working with recently?
London [on Da Track], Brick Beats, I’m still working with Wheezy. And Turbo [of Playmakers], he made that “Beat Da Case” beat.
For “Beat Da Case,” did you get in the studio with Offset?
Yeah, for sure. That’s my partner. That’s my friend. We’re cooler than some rap shit. I know all the Migos. They’re from Atlanta, you know.
Offset is definitely getting some shine from that “Bad and Boujee” hook. He’s blowing up right now.
Yeah, me too! [Laughs] We’re both blowin’ up!
Do you have any records you’re sitting on that you’re particularly excited about.
I’ve got some crazy shit finna come out. ASAP too!
Who have you been working with on those?
I’m gonna have Thug on my tape. I’m gonna have Duke on my tape too. I’m gonna have a couple more features too, but I ain’t gonna say ‘em yet, because I don’t know if I’m gonna put it out.
Do you have a title for your next project?
Drip Season 2, coming 2017.
Why do you think Atlanta is putting out so much great music right now?
I feel like Atlanta -- it’s just our style. I feel like style compliments music, they go together. Our city, our state, that we come with fly shit -- lot of clothes and a lot of expensive cars and all that shit -- it helps with the music. That’s how you got good artists who put out good music, who can really put that shit together, who really live that life.
Were there any Atlanta artists who inspired you growing up?
I grew up listening to Future. I grew up listening to Outkast. They was playing when I was younger-younger. Thug, I was listening to him before I was even tied in with him.
Which tapes were you listening to from Thug?
I Came From Nothing the last one, 3, that he had dropped. It was crazy. That shit was crazy. Slime Season, all the Slime Seasons was crazy.
Thug didn't really break nationally until later but I feel like the ICFN series meant a lot to Atlanta.
Yeah, he got the world now though.
Will you be doing a YSL group project with Thug and Duke at some point?
For sure, we workin’ on it now.
Are you recording that in Atlanta?
Everywhere. We travel a lot. Every state, we’re in the studio.
What can we expect from the next year of YSL Records?
Expect hits. That’s it from YSL Records. Hits.