Cory Gunz
Heir to the Throne

Beats: XL
Lyrics: XL
Originality: L

Few MCs can say they have hip-hop in their veins and actually mean it. That’s because very few MCs are Cory Gunz. As the son of ’90s rapper Peter Gunz, who, along with Lord Tariq, hit the Billboard charts in 1998 with “Déjà Vu (Uptown Baby),” the Bronx native is a legacy in rap’s fraternity. Despite his lyrical pedigree, Cory sets out to prove his position in the game is well deserved with his first Gangsta Grillz mixtape, Heir to the Throne.

With DJ Drama and DJ Head Debiase overseeing his initiation process, Cory is faced with a slew of original and jacked beats for his musical hazing. On “Let’s Move,” the lyrical pledge rides a Special Ed instrumental until the wheels and the axle falls off. Cory’s mic precision continues on the abusive “Gun Shy” and the Plies-lifted “Plenty Money Freestyle.” On the latter, Gunz fires rapid rounds like, “A couple Rugers with the red dot/I shoot a group and have ’em chicken noodle soupin’ when the lead pop/You got some stupid in ya head, huh?/We gotta lotta bullets, so what you doin’ when ya leg stop?”

There’s no doubt that Cory has skill, but there have been questions about the rap rushee’s ability to make actual songs. In response, the moody “Type of Nigga I Be” finds Gunz slowing down his normally frantic flow to craft a hypnotic street anthem. Similarly, the R&B-fueled “Get Right Tonight” features Cory slippin’ into ladies man mode without sacrificing his edge. While Heir to the Throne is a bit on the long side and could have benefited from more diversity, the kid is a breath of fresh air that not only successfully crosses the line but leaps over it. —Anslem Samuel