Pray For Paris by Westside Gunn
A review by Craig MacDonald a.k.a Debating Hip-Hop
On April 17th, 2020 Griselda rapper Westside Gunn released his third studio album and 25th project “Pray For Paris”. The Buffalo rapper started work on his new LP while visiting Paris for Fashion Week in January of 2020. What started as recording sessions and turned into 9+ finished songs and an idea for an album. The album artwork is designed by Louis Vuitton artistic designer and OFF-White CEO, Virgil Abloh. Westside Gunn is a part of a trio called Griselda that consists of himself, Conway The Machine and Benny The Butcher. The three have been making underground gangster rap since the start of the 2010’s but have recently built quite a cult following. They market their music like art and keep stuff like merch or physical copies rare and expensive. After signing with Eminem’s Shady Records in 2017 the group has seen more exposure to mainstream audiences and even performed on Jimmy Fallon. Westside Gunn’s work ethic is his most notable trait, he’ll drop three, maybe four or maybe even five projects a year.
400 Million Plus Tax – N/A
No Vacancy 8/10
A short intro track that runs only 1:35s with one verse over a soulful sample produced by DJ Muggs.
George Bondo (feat. Benny & Conway) 10/10
Griselda connection on the second song of the album and the group has nothing but chemistry. The instrumental produced by Beat Butcha & Daringer is a fast paced piano loop with gritty sounding drums and light synths in the background. Everytime one of them raps, they prove why they’re the best in the group. Lyrical excellence with mastered flows and unique personas.
327 (feat. Billie Essco, Joey Bada$$ & Tyler The Creator) 10/10
The song is named after the New Balance 327 shoes Westside Gunn had just debuted at the Paris fashion week. His first time collaborating with Tyler and Joey, they gloat about their luxurious lifestyles as rappers. The instrumental is a soulful piano loop with slow drums produced by Camoflauge Monk. Joey & Tyler both brought grimey deliveries and barred out, something you have to do to compete on a Griselda album.
French Toast (feat. Wale & Joyce Wrice) 8/10
A classic Griselda type beat, boom bap drums with a piano loop. Westside Gunn and Wale trade clever bars with Joyce Wrice singing the hook.
Euro Step 9/10
This track is a fast paced song, quite out of the norm for Westside Gunn but he speeds up his flow and kills it. It was nice to hear him over something like this because he rarely comes with this type of flow.
Allah Sent Me (feat. Benny & Conway) 10/10
Another Griselda posse cut over the hardest beat on the album produced by Daringer. Luxurious coke raps, certainly not a rare sight for any of the Griselda members.
$500 Ounces (feat. Freddie Gibbs & Roc Marciano) 10/10
Westside Gunn taps Freddie Gibbs and Roc Marci, two of the best underground lyricists of the decade for this soulful ballad. A barrage of bars so hard to decipher it’s not even worth trying.
This is a beautifully soulful song produced by internet sensation turned hip-hop producer Jay Versace. It’s a short but sweet track.
Claiborne Kick (feat. Boldly James) 9/10
The song is produced by The Alchemist, a long time collaborator with the group. The instrumental has no drums but instead a heavenly choir-like voice that illuminates the vocals from Gunn and Boldy.
Shawn vs. Flair 10/10
The song is produced by hall of fame producer, DJ Premier, a veteran in the game who was responsible for classic albums like Illmatic. Westside Gunn normally doesn’t rap over beats this fast but he showcases his versatility here. His flow is perfect over this beat, it’ll make any head nod.
Party wit Pop Smoke (feat. Keisha Plum) 8/10
A tribute song to late New York rapper Pop Smoke who was unfortunately murdered in his home on February 19th. The song is produced by rapper and producer Tyler, The Creator who is also featured on the album.
LE Djoliba (feat. Cartier Williams). 8/10
Le Djoliba is a Senegalese restaurant in Paris, which translates to “the river” in english. This is the outro track for the album produced by Bohemia Lynch, a first time collaborator. Like most Griselda beats, the song samples a loop of female vocals over top of Westside Gunn.
Westside Gunn is proving himself to be one of the best rappers in the game with every release. Since 2017, WSG has dropped 13 projects, setting the bar for work ethic but that’s not rare for Griselda. In 2019 alone, the trio combined for 9 projects within the year. Griselda is becoming the new wave and people are starting to notice, it’s only time before they make it big. They still keep their underground sound and rarity, as they usually only sell a very limited amount of vinyls and merch. As WSG gains all this momentum, he has mentioned many times that he will be retiring from rap after 2020. Since PFP dropped he has released two new albums, Fly God Is An Awesome God 2 and Who Made The Sunshine. He still has a collab album with Conway and a collab album with Madlib that are still supposed to drop.
Pray For Paris by Westside Gunn is without a doubt a top 5 rap album of 2020. I give it a 9/10