Westside Gunn is releasing a new album titled, Who Made The Sunshine, through Griselda / Shady / Interscope. Now the big names here are Shady / Interscope, but before I get to my main point, I want to touch a couple other things.
**UPDATE: Artwork for Who Made The Sunshine by his 6 year old daughter, Westside Pootie**
Taking it back to Pray For Paris, where it felt like West brought out the big guns, this album had the usual suspects, but with Virgil as the artwork designer and production / features from Tyler The Creator, Joey Bada$$, Jay Versace.
Westside Gunn x Roc Marciano – Perfect Plex @ Virgil fashion show in Paris 1/15/20.
Leading up to this project, West signed Boldy James, and the first lady, Armani Caesar, to Griselda. He appeared on a DJ Drama record that also featured Rick Ross, and would eventually attend fashion week in Paris where Virgil banged his music during the show. This is when he made the Pray For Paris album announcement.
DJ Drama x Lule x Rick Ross x Westside Gunn.
That Drama record was a different sound for West. Armani Caesar, a Buffalo native, has been rocking with the camp for at least a decade, but her recent music, was different for Griselda. West has been spending more time in the south, Atlanta and Houston. I saw all of this as West positioning Griselda for a leap. Around the time of the Drama record, Benny dropped a single called Did I, and you guessed it, different.
First video from Pray For Paris.
Pray For Paris was supposed to be it. It had all the makings, and definitely lived up to the hype. West should’ve been good for a little while. Instead, less than 3 months later, he returned with a new project, FLYGOD Is An Awesome God II, and less than 2 weeks after that, he made the new Shady / Interscope album announcement leading me to my point. He called FLYGOD Is Awesome II, something for the culture, it had smaller, more underground names on it.
West made an interesting IG post. Sometime shortly after the release of Pray For Paris, he made a post and captioned it along the lines of, “if y’all are calling this the album of the year, stream it like it.”
In 2020, West plans on releasing not only, Who Made The Sunshine, but also a Madlib project, long-awaited Hall & Nash 2, and whatever else he may randomly drop. Pray For Paris made me really appreciate how West invites people from all different backgrounds to his world. Despite my feeling that Griselda has been on a decline since 2017, they have built more steam due to captivation of a whole new audience. (They’ve been on Fallon, got a video from Hype Williams). The point I want to make though is that the “culture” everyone bigs up, does not pay out. Add that to an industry that’s already in shambles.
Summary of what happened between Gibbs and Ak on The Joe Budden Podcast.
Freddie Gibbs and Akademiks had a back-and-forth where it eventually led to Ak telling Gibbs to show some receipts on how much money he’s getting. Ak was feeling a way, and I think Ak can be corny, but it’s even cornier seeing people try to bully him, i.e. Vic Mensa, but I don’t think he was in the wrong on this one.
Ak compared Gibbs to Jeezy, and how Jeezy would sell more + pack a bigger venue = more relevant. Gibbs’ career has reached new plateaus since teaming up with Madlib on Pinata. He’s worked with Madlib twice, and Alchemist twice in the last 5 years. Gibbs did what he was supposed to as far as making the records as good as they were, but those names, 92 times out of a 100, will garner a ton of respect in the eyes of hiphop purists. It’s a no-lose situation.
Now Gibbs may be making waves in the hiphop community, but that community is small compared to the rest of the world, and for that, he can’t compete with Jeezy. Jeezy isn’t relevant because he’s not focused on music. If he wanted to, he could tap all the names you can think of from top to bottom in the industry and no one would deny that call. He could hit Alchemist, Madlib, Pharrell, Jay Z, Timbaland, Nottz, Drake, Kendrick… and I’m even willing to bet, Jeezy could make a better Pinata / Bandana than Gibbs could ever make a TM: 101. We’ve seen Gibbs attempt a different lane in his past, but couldn’t really get the ball rolling how he has now, and that’s ok. Gibbs has found his niche, just know, if Gibbs, like Griselda, wanted to get bigger, they would have to find a way to translate their style to reach more people.
Second video off Pray For Paris. He’s still pushing Pray For Paris so why did he move on so quickly?
That’s what it appears West is trying to do, reach a bigger market, and it pains me to say, but the culture doesn’t pay out. And that’s what this is about. Not Jeezy over Gibbs or West making the wrong moves but rather overworking when he shouldn’t have to. This is why West made that IG post. Why he’s dropping music at such an outrageous pace. He should’ve been able to do Pray For Paris then the major label debut closer to 2021. This is how he’s making money and staying relevant in the public eye. The same reason Curren$y was dropping monthly in ’08, and pretty much still is. This is the reality for underground artists. Today’s climate doesn’t help either. Streaming instead of purchasing / downloading the album allows for fans to not live with the music. They’re onto the next as soon as something new drops, and 1 stream of an album does not equal 1 purchase. If the consumer even gives you a full stream.
West has been signed to Shady for a long time. The debut should’ve happened years ago, but it’s a business, the major sees the numbers, and unfortunately, it’s not adding up.
*** UPDATE: I wrote this before Benny went on Joe’s podcast… Benny was asked, “are you guys going to keep releasing 15 projects a year?” And his answer, “this is how people consume music, if they don’t trip, we don’t trip.” ***