The thing about having a strong love or admiration for people is often times it can blind you. You get so caught up in the good that you start to miss out on certain signs. However, the best kind of love is the one where you’re fully aware of how deep it runs for you, but simultaneously you are able to clearly see someone for who they are and what they’re going to potentially become. You also see where they’ve faltered and perhaps could have done something better. That goes for romantic relationships and the connection us fans have to our favorite artists.
Today, though I anticipate I will catch a lot of slack for saying this, I have to broach a topic that has become near and dear to my heart. It’s exciting being a journalist at this time in music because we are bearing witness to the next generation of acts, many of whom have serious talent and are friends with another so they collaborate quite often. Today, I speak on one particular duo, Lil Baby and Gunna who unfortunately were the victims of a mismanaged collaborative effort. I have much to say, but I will begin with the fact Young Thug may have set these two up for disappointment saying their collab project would be harder than Lil Wayne‘s comeback album Tha Carter V . An album which endured six years of legal hardships and millions of Tweets asking for it before the people finally got it.
Drip Harder may have been doomed from the beginning with that claim by Thugger, but I’d venture to say there are things that could have been done to change that. There is the overwhelming feeling these last few years that collaborative albums between rappers haven’t been all that great musically, have felt rushed, and mainly just been concentrated efforts to capitalize off of fanbases to make money. However, in my mind, if anyone could’ve changed that it would be these two. They’ve delivered so many great songs together, namely “Sold Out Dates,” “Oh Okay”, “Life Goes On,” and “Chanel.” Their styles are almost exactly alike, the entire music world loves them, and they seem inseparable. What could go wrong?
Anything, and it’s often the thing you’d least expect. Seeing as these two are everywhere, doing everything with everyone, I went into Drip Harder thinking they would promote the absolute hell out of it. Lead single “Drip Too Hard” made serious waves, rising up the ranks of the Billboard Hot 100 Top 10. Anticipation grew, and then the tracklist was released to reveal we’d see Drake, Lil Durk, NAV, and Thug join in on the fun. Four prominent names in rap (yes, respect NAV) who could bring further attention to the project and perhaps even be part of a video. It never happened though. The project dropped, we got the “Drip Too Hard” video and then poof. In a few months time, talks of Baby and Gunna’s next projects were already sparking up. Huh? Why?
I completely understand artists not wanting to leverage Drake’s platform for their own, especially two surefire stars like these two. Like, they’re ATLiens but they’re different. Game changers. Same time though, we saw what “Yes Indeed” did for Lil Baby and it didn’t even get a video!
Business is business, as they say on track two. “Never Recover” was one of the standout songs from the project, even if Gunna claims he wasn’t all that excited about it going in. Drizzy’s presence in videos makes them that much larger, whether he’s being Don Corleone or doing the dancing from “Hotline Bling.” This was a golden opportunity to make the project more relevant, do numbers, and get that track on a Top 10 list somewhere. Because really, a Drake feature that doesn’t get you on the Top 10 almost feels like a waste in my eyes. It can’t extend the life of a project if it’s not even maintaining its own life on the charts or among fans.
It could’ve gone any direction, though. Thug gets a lot of love and his creativity when it comes to visuals is elite. Those three putting their heads together could be a true cinematic masterpiece. Durk and NAV bring their own spice too. Of course, I’m harping a bit too much on visuals when there’s more that could’ve been done. Like, simply letting the project breathe. It was a pretty packed Autumn for music, but as we’ve seen with REASON’s There You Have It, which dropped the same weekend as Wayne, people will get to a project and hype it up when that time comes. Gunna and Baby had more of a following than REASON at the time, even with the TDE co-sign.
Perhaps they expected a blockbuster first week, understandably, and were discouraged? 130k units moved surely isn’t bad, but the overall perception of Drip Harder is that the two made better music together previously and perhaps could’ve sat with this one a little longer before giving it to the world. Again, it’s 2019 and music gets rushed out every day for the sake of making a quick buck or keeping someone relevant. These two didn’t need to do anything but be themselves though. They’ve got co-signs for days, and impressive catalogs already. 2018 would’ve been huge years for both without Drip Harder, as Harder Than Ever and Drip Season 3 were loved immensely by the culture. They were always going to be relevant as far as 2018 goes, but I understand the thought here of piling on more. Keep the streak going.
This project felt a lot like when the Miami Heat came together in 2010. You assume success will come when you’ve got that kind of talent, but chemistry and fluidity play a factor. It’s not like the All-Star Game where you have to just play well enough for one game. It’s a true team effort and you can’t force it. Their year one loss to the Dallas Mavericks in the 2011 NBA Finals showed that just playing together wasn’t enough. They actually had to figure out their roles.
Drip Harder was methodical as we learned from the duo’s visit to Tidal’s Rap Radar with Elliott Wilson and B Dot. Each artist got two solo tracks, and then they’d take turns doing hooks for the subsequent songs. They wanted to equally show what they could do individually as well as together, as most artists do in situations like these. That they did. Standout tracks for me are “Off White Vlone,” “Business Is Business,” “Style Stealer,” and “Close Friends” with the last two being solo efforts from Gunna and Baby respectively. I genuinely feel these songs all had potential to be singles, it just feels like they didn’t.
Don’t get me wrong in all of this, I enjoy the project for what it is. At the same time, I see where it could’ve been better musically, and perhaps with better management and promotion, it could have stayed on fans’ radars for more time. The first few listens never tell the full story, but it’s hard to get that out of fans when the artists aren’t pushing any narrative. Perhaps that’s the issue, although the drip movement doesn’t seem to be subsiding any time soon. I just think that this project deserved and needed a little more time to cook.
Who knows, it could be platinum right now. Baby may not have felt like he needed to drop Street Gossip and compete with Meek Mill‘s Championships weekend. Gunna may not have come with Drip or Drown 2 in the first quarter. We could’ve gotten a tour headlined by these two down the road. The possibilities are endless in music, but so are the ways in which things can flop. I’d hardly call Drip Harder a flop, but it surely came and went and didn’t reach pinnacles it could have. I prayed for all life for the drip, and now my next prayer will be that they let the next collab project drip a little harder for a little longer. If it happens.