Favorite Track: "yup!" Least Favorite Track: "Party at My Mama's House"
The simple yet effective method of communication though absurdist memes and catchphrases has been an instinctual routine for me since the day I downloaded Instagram. Through this meme culture came multiple rappers, combining the most popular music genre with one of the most intriguing new internet trends, and at the helm of these newfound meme rap faces was none other than Yung Gravy. The 24 year-old Minnesota native has been absurdist since day one, and his smash debut single “Mr. Clean” was the perfect fit for ridiculous meme edits. For weeks after this song blew up, I saw it on my timelines, comment sections flooded with praise for the wacky and hilarious antics this song put at its forefront. In a way, the song was claimed by the meme culture, with its seemingly ridiculous lyrics resembling “Yo Mama” jokes. This spoke directly to the deeply ironic and sometimes maddeningly idiotic sense of humor the generation still seems to posess to this day.
Yung Gravy, as an artist, is not the most conventionally creative out there. However, I don’t think he is given enough credit for being just as fun, if not more, than most of his trap contemporaries whilst also coming out with a song as goofy and off-the-wall as “1 Thot 2 Thot Red Thot Blue Thot”. His past efforts have shown lots of fun cuts that have stood the test of time for me, from the bouncy and infectious “Rotisserie” off his collaborative Baby Gravy EP with bbno$, or the silky smooth, jazz inspired “Charlene” featuring Mia Gladstone off his debut album Sensational. These efforts, along with Baby Gravy 2 and my personal favorite, 2018’s Snow Cougar, sport plenty of spunk and personality, but lack consistency as cohesive projects. Granted, a cohesive project for Yung Gravy looks nothing like a cohesive project for a Kendrick Lamar or a J. Cole, but I’ve always believed he had a more consistent album in him. This significantly more consistent record is embodied in the consistently hysterical and maddeningly catchy songs on display on his 2020 studio effort, Gasanova.
Gasanova doesn’t reinvent the wheel by any means, but this is easily Gravy’s most consistently goofy and ridiculous project, in the best way possible. Tracks like “Whole Foods” and “Bag of Chips” are some of the most campy, strange concepts for songs Gravy has come up with thus far. Gravy and the respective features on these songs manage to pull them off with flying colors, riding the line of being a clean-cut comedy song and a trap banger. The themes on “Martha Stewart” and “Steve Austin” bring funny comparisons to celebrities we all know. The lyricism is quick witted, providing a playful nature that I just don’t get from other rappers.
The production is relatively solid across the project as well, and ultimately that is where a lot of this record’s flavor comes from. Gasanova sees a bit of a departure from Gravy’s typical “jazz-flip” style production for a lot of different sound palettes. Tracks like “yup!” and “Gas Money” have a lot more latin-esque influences to the instrumentation, with the latter almost sounding like a typical horn line at a fiesta in the movies. “Bag of Chips” and “oops!” are clear trap bangers. “Martha Stewart” and “Steve Austin” are both smooth and easy on the ears, reliant on breezy vocal and piano samples. “Always Saucy” sports one of my favorite beats of 2020, an absolutely fantastic flip of the “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia” theme song. There are a few spots I find to be a little weak instrumentally, whether it be the sort of sleepy and uninteresting production on “jack money bean” or the lackluster elevator music sample on “Swimming Lessons”, but at large I thought this was easily Gravy’s most diverse and surprisingly consistent set of production thus far.
When someone with a limited lyrical talent such as Gravy makes multiple records, however, the lack of bars can show up on some tracks. When you stick to a specific theme, such as overtly comical sexual situations, it can be tough to say the same thing in enough ways that it feels fresh every time, and this is clear on Gasanova. While I generally find Gravy’s one-liners funny, it can occasionally get a bit grating to hear Gravy’s constant rambling about “shawty singing while I slam” on “Swimming Lessons”, or the repetitive and unoriginal bars about getting money on “Martha Stewart”. This lack of originality has always been a point that I think has held Yung Gravy back a bit, but I think he makes up for the weak spots on this album with hilarious one-liners like “Gravy fuck your bitch then disappear like I’m a Snapchat” and “All the freaky hoes shop at Whole Foods/Baby lemme pay for your Tofu”. These witty lyrics are a common theme across Gasanova, and they thankfully manage to outnumber the duds by a large margin.
As someone who grew up on the likes of Adam Sandler and “Weird Al” Yankovic”, I have never understood the hate on fusing comedy and popular music, and I think that is one of the reasons I see so much in Yung Gravy. His bars are funny, his themes witty, and he simultaneously understands how to craft a catchy hook, a fun melody, and a relentless trap banger. At the end of the day, people praise the likes of Playboi Carti and even someone like 645AR, but are quick to dismiss artists like Billy Marchiafava, Shotgun Willy, and Yung Gravy. I appreciate Yung Gravy’s music for what it is, not necessarily for what it could be. We praise musicians for crafting a musical work that sticks with us, and we praise comedians for making us laugh. Why can’t those two people be one and the same?