Pray for Paris turns three today. It's one of Westside Gunn's most notable works and rightly so. Hitting us with his iconic adlibs - majority of which are onomatopoeic and emulate gunshots - and bars dripped in designer and laced with gunpowder, it's an exemplary display of what Westside Gunn's essence. We're introduced to the record via '400 Million Plus Tax', which takes the audio from Leonardo Da Vinci's Salvator Mundi Auction, which lavishly sets the tone for the rest of the record.
'George Bondo' boasts a piano loop that is equal parts blues-inspired and gangster. The soulful jazz sample ('Feelings' by Kit Andrée)on '327' helps elicit grandeur and luxury, while the drums off of 'Good to Go (Home)' by Made in M and Smuv bring it back to hip hop. The vinyl scratching between Mobb Deep's 'Eye for a Eye (Your Beef Is Mines)' feat. Nas and Raekwon and 'Rumble in the Jungle' by Fugees feat. A Tribe Called Quest, Busta Rhymes and John Forté evoke nostalgia through old school hip hop and the culture surrounding it. Jay Versace takes 'They Were Overcome (By the Word)' by The Clark Sisters and Mattie Moss Clark and pitches it down a notch, breathing new life into a heartfelt gospel sample. And you can absolutely hear The Alchemist all over 'Clairborne Kick' and '$500 Ounces' through that subtle yet magnificent jazz-laced hip hop production.
Westside Gunn enlisted a slew of exquisite rappers from his Griselda label mates, Benny The Butcher, Conway The Machine, Boldy James and Keisha Plum to coke rap luminaries such as Freddie Gibbs and Roc Marciano to hip hop's favourites, like Tyler, The Creator and Freddie Gibbs. Joyce Wrice also lends her gorgeous, contemporary R&B vocals on 'French Toast'. Notably, Billie Essco's vocals on '327' help create velvety sonic texture.
The record feels extravagant, the kind of music you play when you're trying manifest an opulent lifestyle. It's the type of art you display in a museum behind bulletproof glass - so no one can shoot at it and cos it's real expensive - so you can experience it in all it's glory.
Review written by Kat Friar