There is an air of humility that surrounds Gunna.
One would think that such a quality could find itself muted in the company of designer logos and jewelry comfortably worth more than the average American’s monthly expenses. And yet, a warm grin and receptive charisma prove to be the 26-year-old’s most dominant accessories.
A meet-and-greet with fans is the setting as the Atlanta-bred mainstay refreshes his smile for each new photo and conjures up small talk with each new fan. Afterward, he oversteps security to invite a patient supporter into his dressing room for the chance to show him the clothing that he’s brought along for the Drip Or Drown star.
Where a handful of his peers have settled into complacency off the strength of a breakout moment, even the decoration of Platinum and Gold plaques don’t quite satiate the rapper. There is an obsessive hunger that characterizes Gunna. “2020 is my year,” he tells us. “2018 was a year.”
“A year,” he says of the time period that birthed career-making creations like “Drip Too Hard,” “Sold Out Dates,” and “Oh Okay” along with the already era-defining bodies of work found in Drip Season 3 and Drip Harder.
Yet, he’s found a way to best himself, unleashing a debut album that went Gold with only three features in tow and finding the luxury to reserve his featured vocals for high-profile assists like that of Mariah Carey.
He’s just wrapped up a hell of a set for Billboard and Mountain Dew’s Hip-Hop Live concert series, with the show taking root in his hometown. The line that stretched for blocks down Roswell Road just a few hours prior served as a key indicator of the expansion of Gunna’s campaign and in a brief conversation at the end of the night, we talked about this elevation, his favorite new artists and the importance of staying relevant.
Read our conversation, edited lightly for clarity, below.
HotNewHipHop: Congratulations on “Drip Too Hard” going Platinum and Drip Or Drown 2 going Gold. With that level of success at this relatively early stage in your career, what is the strategy and that you and your team are employing to avoid that “Fall Off” syndrome?
Gunna: Just praying to God. As far as talent, we working every day and doing music every day. So, it’s gonna be hard for that to ever happen.
Last year when you spoke with us you said, “We gon’ live by the gun and we gon’ die by it. We ain’t just gonna talk about how we think we living by the gun.” How important is it to you to stay relevant to the earlier topics that dictated your catalog?
It’s very important to stay how I came in, but I still want to elevate and grow. I don’t try to just stay the same because I already did that. So, it’s instilled in me. It’s got to stay in me, but I still try to elevate and do more.
And how do you that?
Just trying different things and bringing the stuff that I’m seeing now to life in my music. I’m just taking in, observing and bringing things back into the studio.
BG017/Bauer-Griffin/GC Images/Getty Images
Let’s talk about “Hot.” There is the story about how “Hot” was originally your track and that unearthed the fact that “Three-Headed Snake” was actually Young Thug’s song. Are there any other songs, either in the vault, or songs that are already out that went through that same tug-of-war?
Yeah, it’s a lot of songs that we have in the vault and there are some songs that done been out that was really supposed to be my song or was supposed to be Thug’s song. We let each other put them out. We make music everyday—it ain’t like we don’t care about the music, but we don’t care who puts it out because we still get the same love regardless.
You’re done with the “Hot” video, right?
Yeah, the video is done.
That song is what’s taking over at the moment, but we’re also seven months post Drip Or Drown 2, at this rate, are you in a rush to drop any new solo material?
Do you have a timeline for it?
Very very soon. Very very soon.
There’s a picture of you and Freddie Gibbs floating around and given you both’s distinct styles it brought up the question of what your musical tastes are outside of the more apparent picks. Do you have any unexpected artists in your rotation?
Koffee. Cold. She’s hard I just got hip to her, but now that I know about her, I listen to her. I know people don’t think I probably listen to her. Still, she hard.
2018 was your year and you’re still capitalizing and building off of that—
2020 is my year. 2018 was a year.
Can you explain that? 2020?
It’s my year.
Well, let’s talk about the growth you experienced in 2018.
A lot of artists are experiencing that same growth this year. Is there anybody that has particularly stood out to you?
Roddy Ricch. He stood out to me because he did kind of come out with me, but he’s still fresh too because he hasn’t put out a lot of [bodies] of music. He’s still up and coming too but he’s standing out. It’s a good look for him.
Recently, Moneybagg Yo went on Twitter and hinted at a joint project—
He said that because we got music together. When we vibing and we got hard shit, you just damn near thinking like, “We might as well put out a project.”
Is it at all a possibility?
It’s a possibility. We just haven’t sat down and tried to do it, but we work together so it’s possible.
In that last year, you’ve slimmed down and your energy and general appearance has progressed. What are you doing outside of just artistry to promote your well-being especially in the age of self-care?
Health is wealth and I really want to be wealth. So, that comes with me working on myself; drinking more water. When I do shows I really put in effort and move and interact and really put on a show for my fans, so that’s cardio. That helps me trim down and slim down; that’s got me looking wine and fine to this day. But it’s very important to me to stay healthy, so that’s what I’ve been doing.