Review Summary: A fan fare in the form of mood music.
Westside Gunn’s biggest downfall is his voice. His grating, high-pitched falsetto rap/moan delivery lacks the accessibility of his Griselda contemporaries Conway The Machine and Benny The Butcher, who thrive in the classic fundamentals of New York boom-bap. Gunn has been able to use his unique vocal style to an excellent effect on past albums Supreme Blientele and FLYGOD, breaking it up with excellent instrumental riffing for producers Daringer and The Alchemist and features from the likes of Danny Brown and Anderson Paak. But in long durations, it starts to grind you down to the point where his Long Island attitude, becomes straight up annoying.
On his latest album FLYGOD IS AN AWESOME GOD, the premise is simple; he doesn’t give a ***. It’s a project based around his hardcore fans, the ones who embrace his cadence. Features come from usual suspects like Benny The Butcher, Conway The Machine, and Mayhem Lauren, providing the lyrically dense braggadocio that they’re known for. Raekwon opens the album with a spoken word passage over retro synths that sing melodies of impending doom, preparing you for Westside's dark, drug talk, spitting “Broad day, bullets back and forth like table tennis, my main shooter yayo sniffing” on the grimy cut “Bautista”.
Opposed to littering the album with features this time around, Westside Gunn uses one core component to prevent his voice grinding on you; style. The term “FLYGOD” is fitting. Instrumentally, this album tackles the vintage sounds of New York boom-bap, with samples crawling like rats in gutters around the city. On some tracks, it even leans towards the obscurities of underground hip-hop, finding his flow on an instrumental reminiscent of something from an Adult Swim cartoon on the track “Sensational Sherri” (courtesy of The Alchemist). For the most part, it eliminates the hindrance of the high-pitched rhymes, and makes for great background music.
However, it doesn’t hold up the whole time. There’s no real song structures. Instead, it’s Westside spitting a stream of consciousness. While that works on mellowed out cuts like “Lunchin”, it falls flat towards the end of the album’s duration, as if only a minimal amount of effort put into structuring these beats into blown-out concepts.
Because of his inability to change his style or present new ideas, FLYGOD IS AN AWESOME GOD is nothing but a die-hard fan fare. The unfiltered, lackadaisical aspect of the album fails to show any progression in Westside Gunn’s artistry, and because of this, is irrelevant to those who aren’t Griselda loyalists. However, If you’re looking for more signature Westside Gunn, with the occasional off-kilter instrumental and decent guest verses, you’re likely to source some enjoyment from this project.