Posted on August 4th, 2015 (11:00 am) by Lucy Xiong

Miami rapper Gunplay’s long awaited debut LP, Living Legend is exactly what you would expect from Maybach Music. High-energy beats, Bugatti imagery, and random female vocals that sound like they were said mid-orgasm. Which is disappointing because Gunplay’s been slaying on mixtapes for years and this highly formulaic album sounds like every other album that comes from the label underplaying his lyricism. Gunplay’s ability to tell deeply evocative stories is wasted on overdone tracks about money, drugs and transactional sex.

Nothing on this album was necessarily bad or unenjoyable except for the cringeworthy random woman shrilly repeating “tell ‘em daddy” in the intro. But it’s 2015, the year of To Pimp a Butterfly, B4.DA.$$, Summertime ‘06, I Don’t Like Shit, I Don’t Go Outside… Hip-hop has moved past having nice cars, ornamental hoes and gun flash-ery. We’re in a time where hip-hop is redirecting its focus to issues of racialized police brutality, institutionalized racism, contemplating the mindfuck that is life and really making a cultural impact rather than the club-focus of commercialized music that nearly ruined hip-hop. What is excruciatingly frustrating about this album is that Gunplay has proven his ability to create substantial music on all the issues that make hip-hop the medium of social prophets, but that’s sidelined on this album in the interest of songs about trivial bullshit.

On "Dark Dayz" and "Leave Da Game," his verses had me feeling for him and hanging on to every word. When he’s real and tells his story through his poetry, he shows his incredible emcee potential. Gunplay is an artist that has truly been to the edge and back who is genuinely crazy and has survived enough drug use that he should be studied as a biological phenomenon. We want to hear your story, Gunplay, not your regurgitation of the same subjects Rick Ross has been going on about for the past four years!

This album over-promises and under-delivers. His intro track "Tell ‘Em" is four minutes and sixteen seconds of grandiose self-description that he doesn’t rise to on this LP. The cover of Living Legend is a nod to Huey Newton for Christ’s sake. Huey Newton, who co-founded the Black Panther Party for Self Defense that stood for the defense and honor of black humanity in the face of the structural racial terror that we still face today. An organization remembered for its militancy but truly made an impact through its provision of resources such as education and food that were absent in impoverished black communities. An organization that was demonized and hunted by the state for trying to defend its community’s humanity. Instead of paying homage to Huey Newton’s revolutionary legacy, Gunplay plays into the limiting mis-portrayal of Newton as an evangelist of violence. Gunplay, aka Richard Morales, Jr. has given us an album of a few honest tracks sprinkled amongst an entire album of tired shallow misogynistic material. Where is "Cartoon and Cereal" Gunplay?

All in all, this album is more than fine, less than superb. The production isn’t bad, it’s got a couple of juicy bangers and a few moments of lyrical dopeness that gave me chills. However, it’s under-delivering at a time in hip-hop where to under-deliver is to be forgotten.

Track List:

  1. Tell 'Em
  2. Just Won't Do f. PJK
  3. Be Like Me f. Rick Ross
  4. Only 1
  5. From Da Jump f. Triple C's
  6. Wuzhanindoe f. YG
  7. Chain Smokin' f. Stalley and Curren$y
  8. White Bitch
  9. Blood On The Dope f. Yo Gotti and PJK
  10. Dark Dayz
  11. Leave Da Game f. Masspike Miles
Purchase at: Amazon | eMusic

Our Rating

55 / 100
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