Album Review | Westside Gunn – Pray for Paris

This album was released on April 17th. Westside Gunn is the only member of Griselda that I’m not really a fan of personally. I think he’s a good curator, and he knows how to pick beats and good features, but as a rapper himself he’s incredibly weak. I haven’t kept my opinion of Westside Gunn a secret in the past, so hopefully y’all already knew this by now. I wasn’t even really excited about this project personally, but I saw a shit ton of praise for it upon its release, so I figured I should write about it since I haven’t been covering many bigger releases this year. As of Friday, May 22nd, I have not yet listened to this project, bu I will say that the first red flag was him tweeting something along the lines of “Y’all can’t call me a rapper after this one, I’m an ARTIST 💯💯💯,” which of course elicited a severe eye roll from me. It’s always the wackest niggas that try to say pretentious shit like that. Every musician is an artist. Obviously some are more artistically bankrupt than others, but MCs trying to shed the “rapper” title always rub me the wrong way. You should be proud to be a rapper, but I digress. Everyone on Twitter was gushing over this album as soon as it released, but I was surprised to see that most of my acquaintances don’t really adore this album as much as Hip Hop Twitter seems to. Nobody thinks it’s trash, but most of them just seem to think it’s decent or slightly above average. I really don’t know how I’m gonna feel about this. The only projects I’ve ever liked from Westside Gunn are FLYGOD & Supreme Blientele. Flygod Is An Awesome God was an okay mixtape to me, but HWH7 was super mediocre in my opinion. However, I’ve never been into that series, so maybe I shouldn’t have been surprised. Oh wait; I almost forgot… My favorite project from Westside Gunn to date is that Riots on Fashion Avenue EP that he dropped in 2017. Was that 2017? It might’ve been 2016. I can’t remember. I loved the production on that project though. Anyway, I’m not expecting to love this project, but I’ll be shocked if there isn’t at least one song I enjoy, and the features look pretty interesting, so this should hopefully be a memorable listen.

1. 400 Million Plus Tax

This track is just audio of some rich assholes at an auction. As you can probably guess from the title, someone buys an art piece for 400 million dollars. Honestly, this track did absolutely nothing for me and felt like a waste of time, but I get why it was here, and I’m sure most of WSG’s fans appreciated it more than I did.

2. No Vacancy produced by DJ Muggs

DJ Muggs’ production here is fucking gorgeous. I usually expect darker, grimier sounds from him, but this beat is really pretty. I actually didn’t mind Westside Gunn’s performance here at all to be honest. I mean, his voice is still annoying as motherfuck, but it was tolerable. The ad-libs are annoying too, but it’s not a dealbreaker for me. I mainly just enjoyed this for the production. I kinda hope Muggs drops the instrumental because I’d love to hear a more competent MC spit over this beat. I can’t really decide whether or not I like this. The only aspect that really impressed me was the production. I don’t think it’s a bad song at all, but I probably won’t return to it in the future just because Westside Gunn’s rapping is so unimpressive. It’s an okay track though.

3. George Bondo performed by Griselda produced by Beat Butcha

The production on this track is pretty fantastic. I actually thought Westside Gunn’s rapping here was pretty great too to be honest. I feel like whenever he’s rapping alongside the rest of the crew he really steps it up. He was pretty good on WWCD in my opinion.

Still plottin’ and schemin’, on the cot daydreamin’
Get shot out the Heron, pray demon, you ain’t breathin’
The yay reekin’, lips movin’, you ain’t breathin’
You start coughin’ up blood for the same reasons
You ever sold a hundred then spent it all in the same weekend?
Razors leave your face leakin’
Chill, let the Wraith creep, and the brick broke in eight pieces

Of course Conway’s verse was fucking awesome to me. I really love the way he ended it.

If thou steal from FLYGOD, that’s a sin
It ain’t another rapper that’s alive that can match my pen
Back again, MAC clap your men, stacked a half an M
I was him before you ever heard me on a track with Em

Benny killed that last verse too. I don’t know whose performance I prefer between him and Conway.

Is y’all niggas rappin’ or tweetin’? Stackin’ or beefin’?
I get you whacked at The Venetian for blasphemous speakin’

This is exactly the kinda shit I want from these guys. The production is great, and all of the verses are really nice too. This shit is dope as hell.

4. 327 featuring Joey Bada$$, Tyler the Creator & Billie Essco produced by Camouflage Monk

This is the first song from the track listing that really stands out in an odd way just because of the unexpected features. I really love the smooth production here; it’s a perfect fit for Joey. I don’t think I’d ever heard of this Billie Essco guy, but his vocals on the hook are pretty smooth. He did his thing. Westside Gunn’s voice surprisingly fits very well over this mellow, jazzy production style. His verse was actually kinda nice too.

I threw coke in the pot, watched it bloom residue and consume
He started wavin’, had a lighter and dope spoon
A nigga try to kill you for your recipe
My shooter nasal drip flowin’ heavily, duckin’ my third felony

I don’t think it’s amazing or anything, but it’s certainly a step up from what he typically does on his mixtapes. Joey Bada$$’s verse was pretty cool, but very far from his best performance. I’m starting to worry about Joey because it’s been a long time since he really blew me away, and the snippets and leaks I’ve heard from him lately haven’t sounded that great. He wasn’t bad here though. Tyler’s verse was pretty solid. I was expecting it to be way better because everyone on Twitter was acting like he completely stole the show, and I guess I would agree that he had the best performance here, but that’s not really saying much to be honest. I do like this song to some extent, but it’s nowhere near as great as the preceding song in my opinion. It feels a little bland in all honesty, but it’s good enough to warrant repeat listens. I fuck with it. It’s pretty good.

5. French Toast featuring Wale & Joyce Wrice produced by Camouflage Monk

This is the most questionable song in the track listing because who the fuck gets a Wale feature in 2020? Anyway, I really love the production here; it’s actually my favorite instrumental on the album up to this point. I unfortunately don’t really like the way WSG rapped here at all though. His lazy flow did nothing for me, and I didn’t care for the lyrics. I usually hate when he sings, but it was slightly more tolerable than it usually is. The background vocals from Joyce certainly helped a lot. With that said, I still think he sounds fucking awful. Honestly, Westside Gunn should be embarrassed because he got outrapped by Wale here. I guess that isn’t really saying much though to be honest. Wale’s verse wasn’t very good to me, but I guess it was fine. Honestly, this is really disappointing. Someone needs to stop letting Westside Gunn ruin all these beats because I love this instrumental. The song as a whole is very mediocre to me though.

6. Euro Step produced by Conductor Williams

I’m not super familiar with Conductor Williams’ work, but I liked that EP he did with Stik Figa last year, and this beat right here is pretty great. The entire track is just one verse from Westside Gunn, but I actually thought his performance here was pretty good. His flow was cool, and he was rhyming well.

The only nigga that got five visions with fire vision
Open your eyes, listen, this our time, Christie’s and Fly
Waitin’ for fly bitches, sippin’ pain in the rain
Never got wet, this for my niggas that’s locked in the cage
Brushin’ they waves with a chip bag, drive it like Six Flags
Clothes from Fifth Ave, broke it, I got rich fast
How you figure you niggas iller? You illin’, millin’, and shillin’
Icon, what a wonderful feeling, put holes in your building

The content isn’t super interesting or anything, but I actually think he performed well from a technical perspective, which really isn’t something I ever thought I’d be saying about him. This kinda feels more like an interlude than anything since it’s less than two minutes and it’s just one verse, but I enjoyed it. I think it’s pretty good.

7. Allah Sent Me performed by Griselda produced by Daringer

I like the beat on this track, but the hook here is fucking unbearable. It’s easily the worst hook on the whole album. The way all three of them were trading bars back and forth on the hook CSF style was pretty cool, but nothing can save a song with a hook like that. Honestly, that’s one of the worst hooks I’ve heard all year. The production’s cool, but it’s far from Daringer’s best work. This is easily the most disappointing song in the track listing. Even if the hook wasn’t so bad, I don’t think this track would be that amazing because the rapping honestly isn’t super impressive. It did have some cool lines here and there, but overall it’s not a must-listen verse. I think the song is wack overall personally.

8. $500 Dollar Ounces featuring Freddie Gibbs & Roc Marciano produced by The Alchemist

This was probably the most exciting song in the track listing for me. I’m not a fan of Roc Marciano personally, but I tend to enjoy his features quite a bit. Obviously I like Freddie Gibbs a lot, and The Alchemist is one of my favorite producers of all time. This beat in particular isn’t really that great to me, but I definitely like it to some extent. The opening verse from Freddie was pretty cool too.

All our mamas would watch us, boy, we was neighbors
But how you look a nigga mom in the face when you shot her baby?
I got skeletons in my closet, right next to Balenciaga
Call me Fred DiBiase, garage is a million dollars, my nogga

I definitely think Roc had a better verse on this track, but his voice still fails to keep my attention unfortunately. I can appreciate it from a technical standpoint though.

Ain’t no Ls on my jacket
The MAC-11 hit your melon and crack it
Ain’t no pads for that in that medicine cabinet
Can’t mess with whatever’s in that gelatin tablet
Ten metal fragments can flip your skeleton backwards
All you seen after that was blackness

Believe it or not, Westside Gunn might’ve actually had my favorite verse. His voice is annoying, but at least it actually commands my attention, unlike that of Roc.

We used to chip in on the big, bag it up, that’s my rent
You take a shift, I take a shift, the feds come, raise my kids
Take my phone, keep the licks goin’, never bust a brick open
12-12 baggers was baggin’, flaggin’
Rick Owens over pots, hand me some ice, he left the fridge open
I’m tryna see my kids grow up, y’all niggas’ ribs showin’

None of the verses on this song blew me away like I wanted, and same goes for the production to be honest. I definitely enjoyed this song to some extent, but it’s nowhere near as exciting as I was hoping it’d be. I think it’s pretty good though.

9. Versace produced by Jay Versace

This song easily has one of the best beats on the entire project, which is pretty cool since it was made by someone who became famous for making lame Vines. It’s crazy to think that Jay Versace made a better beat than The Alchemist. With that said, I unfortunately don’t like this song. The production is the only aspect of it that I enjoyed at all. Westside Gunn just isn’t a good enough rapper to keep me entertained on his own. This song is boring as hell. His voice is just as grating as ever, and nothing he said stood out to me even a little bit. Again, I really like the instrumental, but aside from that I didn’t enjoy this. It’s just okay to me.

10. Claiborne Kick featuring Boldy James produced by The Alchemist

This beat from The Alchemist is fucking amazing. It blows the first beat that he provided for this project outta the water to be honest. It’s fantastic. Westside Gunn thankfully pitch shifted his vocals on the hook, so his voice doesn’t sound quite as annoying as usual. It still doesn’t sound great, but it’s more tolerable here. Boldy’s performance here wasn’t amazing or anything, but I definitely enjoyed it more than the majority of other verses on this project, and his voice fits perfectly over this beat.

Young and restless, all my youngins scandalous, don’t need none protection
Undercovers pressin’, wanna know what’s me and Gunn connection
Know the feds watchin’, tryna catch us touchin’ tons of metric
Whole camp solid, snatch us up, you won’t get one confession
Hustlin’ medication, takin’ medicine for depression
Under investigation, never been the one to question
Plug on my level, seen the talent from the first impression
Russian cut my bezel, Caesar salad with the Russian dressin’

I’m really glad Westside Gunn just handled the hook instead of trying to rap. This is easily one of the best songs on the album in my opinion. The production is superb, and Boldy did a nice job here. The song’s dope.

11. Shawn Vs. Flair produced by DJ Premier

This is one of my favorite beats on the whole album to be honest. I think it’s awesome. I actually think WSG sounds pretty good over it too. He still sounds a lot like MC Pee Pants, but it fits over this production well in my opinion. The verse itself wasn’t really that great, but I think he sounded good. This is easily my favorite solo track on the album, which I suppose isn’t really saying much, but still. I think it’s dope.

12. Party wit Pop Smoke featuring Keisha Plum produced by Tyler the Creator

Unsurprisingly, Tyler ended up producing the best instrumental on the whole album. Unfortunately, the song itself didn’t end up being very enjoyable to me. Westside Gunn’s verse did absolutely nothing for me, and I’m not really into Keisha Plum that much. I thought the whole Gangsta Spoken Word schtick was kinda cool at first, but it’s not the kinda thing I’d get enjoyment out of listening to more than once. I think if she was actually rapping I’d enjoy it, but it’s just not very entertaining to me. The only aspect of this song that I enjoyed was the production; it’s a lot like Versace in that regard. The song’s okay, but I’m never gonna listen to it again.

13. Le Djoliba featuring Cartier A. William produced by Bohemia Lynch

The beat on this track is pretty solid. The verse from Westside Gunn isn’t very good at all, but the way this song ends is actually really cool to be honest. The final line from Westside Gunn is about how he “had a nigga tap dancin’ on the blow.” Cartier William is a renowned tap dancer, so the rest of the song is just him tap dancing along with the beat, and it actually sounds awesome. I’ve never heard anyone do anything like that, so it was really cool. It feels like kind of an odd way to end the album. This honestly feels more like an interlude than anything. I still think it was cool though. With that said, I’m not gonna be listening to this again. The tap dancing was really the only aspect that stood out to me. I think it’s an okay song though.

This album is okay. I pretty much enjoyed it as much as I usually enjoy Westside Gunn’s work. He was definitely kinda going for something different this time around, at least in terms of the production. These beats are a lot smoother and less dark than usual. I guess the features were pretty different too. I wouldn’t say that they’re necessarily better than usual, but they’re certainly unexpected. I don’t know why the fuck he got Wale on here. That was definitely the biggest curveball. I think if you’re generally a fan of Westside Gunn himself, you’ll probably like this. If you prefer that darker style of production, you may be a little disappointed. I personally can’t say I’m disappointed because I’ve never really been into him, but I’m glad I listened because there are a handful of songs here that I liked. He actually had some cool verses peppered in here, which is more than I can usually say about him. I wouldn’t call this a good album, but I don’t think it’s bad. With that said, out of all Westside Gunn’s solo albums, this is easily my least favorite.

Favorite Song: George Bondo
Least Favorite Song: Allah Sent Me


Watch the videos below for more thoughts on this album.

C flat
Grade: C

One comment

Tell me if I'm trippin'

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s