Westside Gunn has finally released his major label debut, Who Made The Sunshine, after independently releasing dozens of projects over the years. After signing with Eminem’s label three years ago, the Griselda ringleader is back with his third project of 2020, and his first under Shady Records. Quickly rising in popularity, this year has proven to be a very successful one for Gunn. His first album of the year, Pray For Paris, was critically acclaimed and included his biggest song to date “327,” featuring Tyler the Creator and Joey Bada$$. Now, with the release of Who Made The Sunshine, Westside Gunn looks to top all his previous works by adding this highly anticipated album to his already coveted discography.
With the most unorthodox rapping style of all his peers, Westside Gunn’s style is definitely an acquired taste. Though, once adapted to, it’s hard to keep out of rotation. This latest album has all of the typical elements of the rapper’s music and does not seem to reinvent his style of rap. His half sing-song, half hardcore rap flow followed by his intense, street lyrics are things listeners expect from the Buffalo musician along with his famous “DOOT DOOT DOOT!” adlibs. But aside from these qualities in his music, Gunn is never the standout on any of the tracks, however the audience knows that it is not his overall goal.
Gunn employs top notch features and production to curate an overall product that is better than anything he could put together by himself. The guest list on Who Made The Sunshine is unbelievable with appearances from some of the highest regarded rappers of both past and present. Rap pioneer, Slick Rick, who has been noticeably absent from the hip hop scene over the past several years, appears on not only one, but two, incredibly detailed, storytelling verses. “Rick the Ruler” delivers his verses in a way that is very reminiscent of his older work from the eighties. Other standout verses include one delivered by the one and only Busta Rhymes, marking his second song with Westside Gunn, along with Black Thought who, as usual, absolutely murders his verse. Past collaborators, like Jadakiss and Smoke DZA, make great appearances as well. And of course, the Griselda crew, which includes Conway the Machine, Benny the Butcher, and the recently added Boldy James, and Armani Caesar, find themselves all over a variety of tracks.
Even with all these great collaborations throughout the album, the biggest talking point may still be the production. Daringer and Beat Butcha, the two in house producers for Gunn’s label who truly elevate the music to another level with their beats, have credits on seven out of the eleven tracks. The relatively new producer, Conductor Williams, adds his name to the long list of credits of the album by producing the impressive “Frank Murphy,” which is over eight minutes in length. The final track on the album is produced by the spectacular Just Blaze and gives us a sound that many Gunn fans have not heard from on his end, yet it’s one that is still very enjoyable. Finally, audiences are blessed with two songs with The Alchemist’s production. A long time veteran in the rap game, Alchemist has been having arguably his greatest run in 2020 after producing top tier albums for Boldy James, Conway the Machine, and Freddie Gibbs. Lastly, adding icing to the cake with his quality work on Who Made The Sunshine. Plus, fans got to hear his famous “A-A-A-A-Alchemist” producer tag once again after years of making music without it, causing a slew of ecstatic reactions from all over the internet.
The formula Westside Gunn uses to make his music continues to work for him. In my opinion though, if he does not change this same process of music making soon, it will definitely start to get a bit stale for the general hip hop audience. The album does contain some things that detract from it being a flawless album, starting with “Liz Loves Luger.” The song is great in terms of production, and the Armani Caesar feature, but Gunn’s verse doesn’t fit at all, at least in my opinion, and sounds very out of place. While what comes out of his mouth is usually enjoyable, part of me definitely feels as though there is recycled content from his past work throughout the project. However, other than a few negatives, I feel like the album is a top notch addition to his legendary collection and offers a lot of songs that countless hip hop affectionados will appreciate.
Album Rating: 8/10
Article By: Sushrut Shendey