Photo Credit: Spike Jordan
Gunna’s latest album, a Gift & a Curse, showcases a vulnerable side of the artist as he delves into the emotional toll of the various situations he has been through. From the doubts instilled by his peers to the transgressions he’s committed to succeed, Gunna reflects on these experiences with sincerity. Despite its flaws, this album is still worth revisiting. a Gift & a Curse is focused and concise, maintaining a consistent progression between tracks. However, it falls short of elevating the production beyond simple drum patterns. Although it serves as a great platform for Gunna’s flow and emotional expression, there are moments where the production lacks innovation. Despite this, the album’s storytelling and technical writing still shine through and leave a desire for repeated listens.
Gunna’s range of flows, rooted within the Southern hip-hop trap music ecosphere, further adds to the album’s appeal. Although vocal modifiers may not add much substance, they contribute to the overall aesthetic of the music. It is worth noting that Gunna’s flows may sound homogeneous at times, but upon closer inspection, listeners will discover nuanced layers within the verses. Fortunately, the album contains more solid and fantastic tracks than weak ones, especially when the choruses are connected to the overall vision, creating a fully realized final product.
The rapper’s lyricism is on full display from the very beginning of the album. While some tracks may seem simplistic in their approach, such as “Back At It,” where Gunna re-introduces himself as a hitmaker, they still stand out as some of the album’s highlights. These tracks maintain their importance beneath the surface, as their surface layer approach is enough to keep the momentum going. However, there are instances where the production fails to captivate, often feeling uninteresting and familiar. For example, “Ca$h $hit” tries to experiment with dark and gloomy piano keys but loses impact as it progresses. Nevertheless, the overall production remains consistently good. Depending on the listener’s standards, the album’s production may falter when compared to Gunna’s talents. Despite this, there are standout tracks, including “Go Crazy,” “P Angels,” and “Bread & Butter,” that showcase Gunna’s unique flow and lyrical prowess.
While a Gift & a Curse successfully tries to maintain a solid equilibrium between lyrics, flows, and production, there are moments when certain elements overpower others. The more melodic tracks towards the latter part of the album may lack the astuteness found earlier, leaving room for disappointment. These tracks, accompanied by trendy base flows, fail to enhance Gunna’s message. Despite this setback, the directness of Gunna’s lyrics sets him apart, revealing a depth beyond superficial topics.
Unfortunately, the album falls short of its potential and becomes more perplexing due to a few missteps. Some of these missteps are contextually related, such as the misplacement of the humbling essence Gunna gained from his time incarcerated on the track “born rich.” The egotistical nature of the lyrics and the lack of consideration for family values detract from the overall impact. Additionally, “turned your back” feels like an attempt at gaining a hit, failing to offer the same level of strength and substance as other tracks. Despite these shortcomings, a Gift & a Curse is a profound album that, regardless of its flaws, deserves recognition. Gunna’s growth as an artist is evident, and while there may be a few hiccups along the way, the album still warrants multiple listens.