Some critics view rapper Gunplay as a caricature: braids in a ball, pills in a pile, guns on the floor. And sure, the Miami native has called himself the “human L.A. riot,” but he also has articulated a street survivor’s remorse in compelling ways. On Living Legend, his solid, long-delayed debut, the 36-year-old escapes reality as much as he faces it. He describes himself as the “crack in the bag” and “the flame on the blunt” on the boot-stomping “Tell ’Em (Daddy),” a mission statement for the manic, outlandish side of his personality. But on the introspective “Dark Dayz,” he runs down his real-life legal woes in staggering detail, his grudges as believably intense as his wordplay. (In 2013, he beat a potential life sentence for pistol-whipping his accountant.) Legend, like Gunplay’s professed diet, is a potent mix of uppers, downers and hallucinogens; it makes for a weird, and weirdly satisfying, trip.
This story originally appeared in the Aug. 8 issue of Billboard.