RESPECT. Interview: Westside Gunn Discusses Changing Lives, Art Exhibits & Production

Artwork: Dread Solo

Artwork: Dread Solo

Is it the voice? The piercing “ayo” introducing the record? The staple “doopdoopdoop” gun shot sound effects complementing the appropriate rhyme? The likely-drumless choice of production? Perhaps all of it, and some. Allow us to introduce Buffalo, New York’s Westside Gunn – if you haven’t met already.

Comparing Westside Gunn to another emcee is trivial, but take a moment to reflect on first hearing, say, Styles P. and Beanie Sigel. Okay, now try to recall that feeling. If you had any knowledge of inner city wiring, or street life, you will probably agree that Styles and Beans embody the street’s spirit and damn near record songs from the concrete. They are shatter proof, authentic emcees that’re brutally honest and evidently lived everything they’ve put on record. It’s almost undeniable, right? They have the gift of being able to speak to the average street cat very closely. Some do, some don’t – that’s where Westside Gunn comes in.

Buffalo, New York is no walk in the park. Unfortunately we all know what comes as a byproduct from an impoverished, drug ridden city. Westside Gunn has an innate, rather blunt way of rapping about it. Him and his brother Conway have survived every dark crevice of Buffalo and made it out alive, quite literally. As we hip-hop heads get older and grow up with the music, it gets easier to sift through the gimmicks and lies on record. Like Styles P. and Beans, Westside Gunn and all the whole GxFR squadron are the real deal.

How about being compared to a modern day Ghostface Killah & Raekwon? We could talk about how polished Westside Gunn and Conway‘s back-to-back flow is for hours.

It’s crucial to note Westside Gunn’s attitude and respect towards art as a whole, which below you will read a bit more about in our interview. Paying homage to all forms of art is necessarily notable, but let’s pull hip-hop from the deck for a second. Is it important to you, as a fan, that they understand and appreciate the culture? That they understand the importance of who came before them? That they’re actual fans of the music themselves? If your answer is no, close this page. One specific refrence from Westside Gunn that had us sold was his praise to J Dilla. This speaks miles and says a lot without saying a lot. There are way too many new jacks that ignore hip-hop’s timeline.

Having released multiple quality projects in the past couple of years, Westside Gunn’s work ethic and consistency is one to learn from. Do these cats ever stop? Will they? We hope not. The scattered loosies via SoundCloud (with very little warning), the full projects, and the features are reassuring. This is quality, gritty, fly, luxurious street rap that the east coast sound has been starving for.

We hope you enjoy the interview below – peace and love:

Artwork: @cepenwhy

Artwork: @cepenwhy

RESPECT.: It’s no secret that you’re climbing the charts and gaining a lot of traction these past couple of years. Is it getting more challenging for you to focus? Or does Westside Gunn feel even sharper with a rapidly growing audience?

I never, ever felt challenged. Actually the reason I drop so much material is because I get bored easily. I want the people to witness greatness – a new LEGEND. So, I just drop shit to keep reminding people it’s not a game this shit is legendary, haha.

RESPECT.: Do you mind speaking on your choice of production? (On that note, you and Daringer have undeniable chemistry.)

Yea I mean I’ve reached out to all my favs – Preemo, Alchemist, PeteRock, 9th Wonder, etc. and we’re all about to start cooking. However, nobody will ever get me like Daringer. That’s my producer since day one. When you hear him that’s the Griselda sound. The RAW shit you know? I’m where I am today because of what Daringer brought to the table.

RESPECT.: Visual art and fashion are praised often in your music. It’s refreshing to say the least. If you don’t mind naming a few, who are your favorite painters, visual artists and/or fashion designers?

To be honest I love all art. I like going to art exhibits and peeping raw talent. You can learn a lot and develop a different outlook on life by looking at an artists view. Some designers I mess with are Raf, Virgil, Don (Just Don), and Neil Barrett. Also, I love what Kanye is doing. I feel I’m a grimier Kanye.

RESPECT.: You, Conway and the rest of the crew have quite literally been through it all. With that being said, you guys could be inspiring a lot of young bucks and I’m sure are already. Is this important to you?

That means everything. We’re hood dudes and have been thru it all – I mean all. From prisons, murders, drug sales, and almost losing life. I mean, Conway got shot in the damn head. But yeah, we’ve come a long way and I hope what we’re doing can show the people from the same walks of life that if you grind hard and stay focused anything is possible. Changing lifes is more important to me than music. I’m just glad when I make music I’m able to do both.

RESPECT.: What should the world be expecting from Westside Gunn/GxFR for the rest of 2016?

Nothing but WORK! The best work on the block to be exact. We got Conway’s debut album ‘GOAT (Grimiest of ALL Time)’ coming. I’m going to drop again too, just dont know when. And a whole lot of instant drops, like the “SUMMERSLAM 88” I just dropped today with my daughter. Love is love, thank you.


Westside Gunn: Twitter | Instagram | AudioMack | iTunes

Conway: Twitter | Instagram

Daringer: Twitter | Instagram

Griselda Records: Official Site | Instagram | YouTube | SoundCloud



Suggested Articles:

DJ Esco & Future Drop New Mixtape, ‘Project E.T.’ (Esco Terrestrial)
Usher & Young Thug Remix A Master P Classic With “No Limit”