Gunna is the King of Drip. For those who are cheugy (a new addition to the dictionary for 2022, referring to being old and out of touch), drip refers to an overall ‘fit (outfit). At Gunna’s level, the drip consists of signature designers, who this writer has never heard of, decorated in diamonds and gold from head to toe—as Gunna says, he just wants to look “fresh without trying.”
In the following interview, Music Connection boldly asks exactly what drip Gunna is wearing, and dives into working almost exclusively with fellow native Atlanta artists, the most impactful being Young Thug. Gunna is one of Thug’s most prolific proteges from the Young Stoner Life Records label.
Another creative outlet for the rapper is fashion and design—Gunna has recently partnered with Foot Locker, on top of endorsements and fashion shows for Birkin, Pyer Moss, Off-White and Yohji Yamamoto.
Gunna began making music at 15, influenced by OutKast and other Atlanta hometown heroes. In 2013, he released debut mixtape Hard Body under the name Yung Gunna. By 2016, Gunna strengthened his roots, extended his network of motivated emcees, and began working with label boss Young Thug. Gunna shared the mic with Gucci Mane and Travis Scott on Thug’s “Floyd Mayweather.” In 2018, Gunna worked again with Travis Scott, guesting on “Yosemite,” a standout from Astroworld. That same year, Gucci Mane took to Twitter to publicly offer Gunna $1 million to sign to 1017 Eskimo (the same label that first signed Thug).
Gunna remains loyal to YSL, home to seven of his releases and compilations, including the Lil Baby collaboration Drip Harder (which produced Gunna’s highest-charting, platinum-certified, Grammy-nominated single, “Drip Too Hard”), as well as 2020’s acclaimed sophomore album on a major label, WUNNA.
Drip Season 4, the latest in Gunna’s Drip musical anthology, is set to release early this year, already boasting singles with Future, Roddy Ricch and Thug.
Music Connection: I think what’s been important and impressive about your experience is the community emphasis in your career, working with all these great collaborators, producers. How does it work with your collaborators? Just on WUNNA there’s Taurus, Turbo, Wheezy, everyone in YSL—how do these partnerships come about and how do you keep building each other up?
Gunna: At our headquarters—our studio—is where we’re all creative. We all go to each other’s world. When we get in a room or we play each other’s music, each of the artists on the label are all in one room and one artist is scrolling through their whole catalog. Whether fresh or old songs, they are preparing to put them out. We’ll just go off the vibe.
Gunna: Yes. For example, I just heard [Lil] Keed’s latest songs that he just made, because he was at the studio. It’s just natural for us to tap in on each other’s songs that we’re doing.
MC: You’re starting to drop songs from Drip Season 4, are you bringing a lot of those tracks to the group?
Gunna: Drip Season 4 is almost done. I’m finalizing and mixing things down. It’s just about ready to go.
MC: That’s exciting. Do you feel good coming off of WUNNA?
Gunna: I feel like I’ve been set back almost two years. Artists can’t even sit back like that. I’m in a space where I feel like I’m gonna drop one of the biggest albums of my career, at a point where people are actually paying attention to how creative I am as an artist. So, I’m feeling good about the place I’m in right now.
MC: I think we hear it in the music too.
Gunna: Thank you. I agree.
MC: How has writing and recording in the Pandemic affected Drip Season?
Gunna: I’m just glad that I think my work ethic is good. I work in the studio. I’m in the studio a lot. I’ve got a lot of material. I think that comes with being prepared. Even with WUNNA, I had old and new songs. I was recording right before the pandemic, and before then I was in Jamaica. I spent about four weeks there—about three weeks locked in on [recording] the album. I was planning on dropping it at the top of the year, but that’s when it started hitting, Corona and the pandemic came, so it stalled me up. But I still had to put out music for my fans. And I had the release [WUNNA]. I had a No. 1 album, still. Even after George Floyd died right before, I dropped the album on Thursday night and on that Sunday George Floyd died. That was a real culture change for us, as a whole. I couldn’t really talk about the album.
MC: Have you been playing shows in the pandemic? How has that been?
Gunna: I’ve been doing more festivals than my own shows. I’ve also been doing colleges now that we’re in, like, Homecoming Season. Other than that, I did a few virtual shows.
MC: How’d you like performing at virtual shows? How did that work out for you?
Gunna: They were cool also. They were different. I love doing different shit sometimes.
MC: It’s rolling with the punches. And as you said, that’s being prepared, to get into the virtual scene.
MC spoke with the 28-year-old rapper days after the tragic Astroworld event. Travis Scott, the festival’s creator, is a contemporary and early/frequent collaborator of Gunna.
MC: I almost hate to bring it up, but would love to hear your input. Of course it is a tragedy what happened at [Travis Scott’s] Astroworld Festival over the weekend. Has this been affecting your thoughts on festivals going forward?
Gunna: No. But I do want to send prayers to the families of all the kids who died and all the people who had to really be there and experience that tragedy. I pray for those families. I feel like there was nothing that we could really control. It’s all God’s plan, but we should take heed and move differently from now on for festivals and putting everybody in crowds. We just gotta take heed of kids coming up and not being a certain age without a chaperone. We shouldn’t have a 10-year-old out in the field without someone making sure they’re protected. Or we shouldn’t have them in the field. We should have them in maybe a 10-year-old section. That’s my opinion.
MC: Thank you for saying that. It of course is horrible and we are just going to concerts to hear music, to dance and to feel good…
Gunna: One hundred percent. I was a part of Astroworld. I also feel that’s all we want to do. We care about our fans. Me, Travis, everybody on the lineup. We would never want to endanger our fans. As a whole, I feel responsible, but I know in our hearts, genuinely, we would never want anything like this to happen. Each kid supports us to play our music and make sure that we can feed our families.
MC: Let’s talk about your influences. I think it’s safe to say Young Thug has certainly been a mentor to you. Do you feel that there is still that mentorship? Are you working more toward being partners.
Gunna: I feel it will always be a mentor thing. It’s like having a big brother. He’s always going to experience more steps that I’m going to run into later. Just being of age, working. He continues to drop jewels on not just me, but everyone around. I feel like that alone won’t change. We are becoming more partners just from me stepping up and being bigger and knowing more responsibilities. We have a label, but I play a real major part of this label. If I want to be on this label, I want this label to be the top label. I don’t give a damn if I have to put my two, three cents in. Me, doing things like that with my actions, will make me more of a partner with that shit, as far as the label.
MC: You definitely have a crew that you’re coming up in. Again, it’s impressive and people are listening. It’s also great that you are taking others under your wing and showing them what you’ve learned already in the business. It’s all about paying it forward.
MC: Last summer, Music Connection featured you and Young Thug in the magazine’s “Mixed Notes” column. You paid bonds for inmates at Fulton County Jail who had minor offenses. That is what could have introduced our readers to you. It all goes back to giving to your community. How did that come about?
Gunna: I’m big on giving back. It’s one of my hobbies—things I like doing—especially being in a position now to do it. With us freeing the inmates, that’s more of Thug, being how he is, thinking outside of the box like always. He had put a budget together for one of the artists on the team, [YTB] Trench. We wanted to shoot a video for him, but we didn’t know exactly what we wanted to do. Thug said, “Man, let’s get people out. Let’s take the whole budget and bond everybody out and that would be the whole video.” We did that and it was a success. I feel like it got the look that it should, and that we didn’t even think it would hit.
MC: You didn’t do it for the cameras.
Gunna: Well, we did it on camera, but didn’t expect to be on the news and be a PSA—everybody heard about that.
MC: Another Georgia charity you have is the Drip Closet, a no-cost grocery and clothing store for students and families. I couldn’t let you go without talking “Drip” with you. So, one more question, what are you wearing right now? I dressed up a little today, too. I wore my nicest chain, which is good for my level.
Gunna: Right now, I got a pair of brown custom leather pants on. I got a Rick Owens blazer. It’s like a peacoat with an off-white hoodie under. The hoodie is cream colored. And I got some mink slippers from Dolce & Gabbana, all black.
MC: That’s about as good as I hoped to hear.
Gunna: I’m fresh today without trying. There’s only 365 days in the year. I know for sure I got 365 outfits and want to make sure that I’m fresh, sharp, every time I step outside the house. I only went to get lunch today, like a business meeting, but I wanted to make sure I was sharp! Make sure I’m fresh every day.
MC: I don’t know if you always meant to, but you are certainly a fashion icon. Is that yet another venture you’re working on? I’m hearing about your Foot Locker partnership.
Gunna: Most definitely. I’m really passionate about clothes. So, coming up with clothing brands. I’m doing a lot of different collaborations right now to get my feet wet and let people know how I could come to your world and make it a thing. That’s where I feel like everybody will really understand that, “He can really make sugar from shit.”
MC: Not just shit, and not just fashion. I hear you’re also moving into interior designing.
Gunna: You talking to somebody! Somebody’s telling you facts! You got a good source. I am not working on nobody else’s house, but my own properties. I’ve been doing home decor on my own and I’ve been showing them off. People think I’m lying—they don’t believe me. Then I did an interview with Ludacris and he brought it up and told me he saw when I posted a video of my house. He asked if I really did that. He said you need to take it seriously. I asked if he would let me design one of his houses. He said, “Next spot, I’m gonna let you do something.”
MC: That’s a big project.
Gunna: Ain’t no telling what he’s probably going to spend on that house. One room would be… crazy. That’s a big canvas.
MC: Any other advice for our readers before we go?
Gunna: I would give this advice to up-and-coming artists who are contracting deals: try to learn the business as much as you can. But at the same time, look at it like your first time is always an opportunity. You can always make a better situation once you build yourself up, build your name up and put in more work—you’ll get what you want after. Don’t be so scared about the first deal that you ever do.
MC: You want to build your fanbase before going to the bigger names and bigger labels…
Gunna: Sometimes you might need people to do that. Sometimes when you sign with a record label, it’s not the end, it’s the beginning. Not like the deal you wish to get you were always waiting for. Might just be that the first deal to get to you is the best deal.
MC: Is that from your experience?
Gunna: Most definitely. I’ve experienced situations where I knew I could have had more, but I settled and built [to get] more after.
MC: I am happy that we got to speak. Is there anything else?
Gunna: Just I appreciate the support, and be on the lookout for all new projects, all new material from Gunna.
MC: And YSL, and collaborators and all your other ventures.
Photos by Elizabeth Miranda