Gunna Wants His Spot in the 2019 XXL Freshman Class to Go Down in History
When Gunna stepped into the room for the 2019 XXL Freshman Class cover photo shoot, he immediately set himself apart from his rap peers by doing what he does best: going against the grain. Instead of wearing all-black everything like the other 10 artists in this year's class, he opted for a white Valentino button-up and a bright orange suit. For a rapper who stands out from the crowd by rocking Chanel purses and Hermes bags on the regular, this comes as no surprise.
Aside from getting in his bag with his wardrobe during Freshman day, Gunna was most appreciative of his spot in the class. “If you make it here, it’s like you going on the right path,” says Gunna, as he explains the significance of being a part of the 2019 XXL Freshman Class. “So you know to just take this and run with it, you know what I'm sayin? This gon' go down in history. So it means a lot to me... The [XXL Freshman] list is big to me. I feel like it is like a stamp for artists on their grind, coming up. It’s like, a clarification to me."
A product of College Park, Ga., the fashion-forward rap star first splashed on to the scene in 2013, under the rap alias Yung Gunna. However, he began making major waves a few years later. After linking up with Young Thug thanks to an introduction from his uncle in 2015, Gunna signed a deal with Thugger's Young Stoner Life Records and 300 Entertainment. The deal took his career to the next level.
"I always liked music so I feel like me, when I first made a song and heard myself like listening to myself on a beat, that inspired myself, like it inspired me most to like, Oh I like this, I like what I do," the self-described "funny person" shares.
Months after making a cameo on Thug’s 2016 album, Jeffery, Gunna introduced the first installment of his widely acclaimed Drip Season series featuring tracks like “Outta Sight Outta Mind” and “Cop Me a Foreign” featuring Thug.
By doubling down on his annual output, the drip king, who cites Young Thug, Jay-Z and Nipsey Hussle as influences, started flooding the streets with a consistent stream of new music. In 2017, with the arrival of the Drip Season sequel and Drip or Drown, he added two more projects to his growing catalog.
No longer just bubbling under the radar, the “Space Cadet” rapper ushered in the next phase of his career once he premiered 2018's star-studded Drip Season 3. With his Drip Szn in full effect, Gunna, who lays claims to at least 50 2018 guest verses, continued to stacked up on the high-key appearances. Popping out on records from Travis Scott, Metro Boomin and Mariah Carey, among others, the “Drippin” artist’s list of recent collaborators seemed to be only eclipsed by the designer clothes in his closet.
Gunna then joined forces with his partner-in-rhyme Lil Baby to drop the gold-certified collaborative effort Drip Harder last October. The EP, which peaked at No. 4 on the Billboard 200, features the platinum-selling, Drake-assisted “Never Recover” and the triple platinum hit “Drip Too Hard,” a song that climbed to the top 5 spot on the Billboard Hot 100.
Going solo once again, Gunna delivered his debut album, Drip or Drown 2, in February of this year. Debuting at No. 1 on the Billboard Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums chart, the 16-track project, laced mostly with production from go-to producers Turbo and Wheezy, is equipped with bangers like “Speed It Up,” “One Call” and the Young Thug-assisted “3 Headed Snake.”
Known for his hypnotic flow, silky smooth delivery and designer addiction, the rapper gets reflective on a Drip or Drown 2 record like “Idk Why,” where he seems equally as focused on taking care of his family and maintaining his grind, as he is focused on making sure the salesperson at Barneys catches a whiff of him. Drip or Drown 2, which to date has sold over 400,000 album-equivalent units, provided further evidence that it’s deeper than drip for Gunna.
Not long after dropping his first official album, the “Richard Millie Plain” rapper, who had wrapped up Travis Scott’s Astroworld Tour in the spring, found himself back on the road as a headliner. Gunna's Drip or Drown 2 Tour touched down in major cities throughout the country, including New York, Houston, Miami and Atlanta.
Always cool, calm and collected, Gunna views his position in the game as necessary. “You gotta have somebody that’s going to be the freshest in the building,” confirms the “Baby Birkin” artist, who showcased his designer drip at Paris Fashion Week earlier this year. “You gotta have somebody like that. That’s me.”
Get better acquainted with Gunna in his 2019 XXL Freshman interview.