“I’m a blonde hoe, self-made, call me Martha Stewart.”
When Yung Gravy dropped “Sensational” in 2019 I offered faint and nearly damning praise of the young man. “Yung Gravy is not a great rapper but he’s not TERRIBLE either. He’s okay. Given how far standards have dropped in recent years ‘okay’ isn’t all bad.” That’s certainly not an endorsement. I was and I still am skeptical of a lot of things about Gravy. Songs like “Martha Stewart” from his new album “Gasanova” keep those doubts fresh in my mind. You don’t have to look hard to tell the difference between a rap song and a “TikTok meme” song. A 24 year old rapper comparing himself to a 79 year old white woman? That’s a meme. Songs like “oops” also reinforce my feelings about the way casual misogyny drips from his lips like spittle in poor attempts at humor. “Super duper hoes, y’all got oompa loompa hoes/I ain’t never knew your hoes, probably still ran through ’em though.” Dropping a Khia “My Neck, My Back” reference on the track comes across less like a tribute and more like a white guy co-opting black culture.
Thanks in part to his production, to the fact he actually raps his bars instead of crooning them badly, and the fact I can detect marginal improvements in his breath control and delivery, “Gasanova” is not a disaster despite all of my reservations. There are times his attempts at humor even work. “I’ma get the bands even if I don’t want to/If you smell like Black & Milks baby I don’t want you/Gravy got the drip and the cheese like I’m fondue/All y’all been +on one+, congrats bitch, I’m on two.” Thanks to bars like this and a light flute sample and nice bassline, songs like “Yup!” are winner tracks.
I can’t offer him praise without noting that even good songs like “Drip on My Dresser” feel like a very forced attempt to give him credibility with a black audience. It isn’t just that Chief Keef appears on the track. It isn’t just that he drops a Project Pat reference. It isn’t just the fact that there’s AutoTuned vocals inter-weaved into the bars, or the multiple references to smoking marijuana, it’s ALL OF IT. It’s a pleasant song to listen to but it gives off a “try hard” air that you’d need to be blind not to see.
Yung Gravy walks an exceedingly fine line between being a rapper and a parody of a rapper. The line is in fact so blurry that you might as well stop trying to focus on it. The fact he’s collaborating with Young Dolph and dropping pro wrestling and Wu-Tang Clan references on “Steve Austin” remind me of what IHateEverything always says about movies that make incessant pop culture call backs that are “member berries” for listeners. While that may make for terrible movies, it’s not necessarily so bad for rap songs. The piano riff is good, the bass and the drums are tight, and even if having Dolph on the track is a credibility move… it works.
The bottom line is I don’t hate Yung Gravy. Even when he drops dumb lyrics on his tracks, it ends up being kind of charming — almost like he’s self-aware that it’s absurd for him to be a rap star, so he’s purposefully trying to be over the top about it. I still can’t excuse the casual misogyny or the fact that he embodies rap stereotypes instead of using the unexpected fame he gained to elevate the genre, but musically “Gasanova” is fine and lyrically it’s tolerable. I suppose at this point in his career that will suffice.