When most people think of New York hip-hop they think of the Bronx, Brooklyn, Staten Island, Queens and Harlem. Just look at the up and coming rappers from New York who are getting praised now, Dave East, Young M.A, A Boogie, Desiigner, Casanova, Phresher their all from at least one of the 5 boroughs. What if I told you, two of the most buzzed about MC’s coming out of New York weren’t from one of the 5 boroughs at all? You would probably say I’m crazy. When is the last time you heard a rapper from upstate New York on the radio or for that matter can you even name a rapper from upstate New York. Well let me introduce you to Westside Gunn and Conway who hail from Buffalo, New York. The two brothers are bringing back that dark, gritty, black hoodie, Timberland wearing, fly, luxurious, Mafioso rap that we all love back to the forefront. Their style is nostalgic and reminiscent of the 90’s, but still fresh and new at the same time. It is something that the game has been missing for awhile now. Westside Gunn has been compared to an early Raekwon, AZ, and Nas; while his older brother Conway has been compared to an early Styles P, and Beanie Sigel, with a sprinkle of Jay-Z.
The duo along with Benny (affiliate who recently signed) and Daringer, their in-house producer are signed to the independent record label Griselda Records aka Griselda By Fashion Rebels and just a few weeks signed a major label distribution deal to Eminem’s Shady Records. The CEO of Griselda Records is none other than Westside Gunn himself. Along with being the CEO of the record label he also manages his brother Conway. Initially when they started Westside Gunn was working behind the scenes handling all of the business while Conway was behind the mic. After Conway was shot in the head and neck leaving the right side of his face paralyzed, Westside Gunn stepped from behind the scenes and started rapping while his brother recovered. I don’t know if this has ever happened before but, Westside Gunn may be the first CEO of a record label that also raps and manages and artist all at the same time.
Their production, mostly handled by Daringer is very unique in this day and age when the game is flooded with beats that have a lot of synths and trunk-rattling bass. Their beats are bleak, dark, filled with loops, samples and sometimes there even drum less. Daringer’s instrumentals are the perfect canvas for Westside Gunn and Conway to paint their grimy, dark, lyrical pictures.
Their work ethic also goes unmatched. They consistently drop loosies on their Soundcloud unannounced and this year alone they have dropped 6 projects. The releases include Westside Gunn’s “Roses Are Red…So Is Blood (with The Purist),” “FLYGOD,” “Don’t Get Scared Now (with Mach Hommy and Conway),” “There’s GOD and There’s FLYGOD, Praise Both,” “Hitler Wears Hermes IV,” and Conway’s “Hell Still On Earth” EP (with Prodigy). Personally, my favorite project that they have released this year would have to be Westside Gunn’s “Hitler Wears Hermes 4.” It features arguably the best rap verse this year by Conway on the song “The Cow” and shows off the many aspects of Daringer’s production and Westside Gunn’s rhymes. The album continues to solidify that Griselda Records is here to stay even if the radio and the industry continue to ignore the work that they put in.
Along with their style and production, a majority of their projects are released in a unique way. Instead of dropping CD’s like everybody else does Westside Gunn & Conway release, their music digitally and also as limited edition vinyls, which always sell out in a matter of minutes. Trust me I’ve tried to get my hands on them multiple times, you will have better luck buying Jordans. So far they have done this with a majority of their releases and have only released CDs for about 3 of their projects.
If you miss that vintage New York sound and the feeling that AZ, Biggie, Kool G Rap and early Mobb Deep gave you, look no further. Westside Gunn and Conway are here to fill that void and are doing so with a 90’s sound with a new twist. As Conway said on “Rahbanga” “Me and My Brother brought the toughest to New York, Mason & Oakley” and rightfully so because they are making the hardest music coming out of New York in a long time.
With their recent signing to Shady Records their gearing up to take over 2017 and they already have three projects lined up. First is Conway’s debut studio album “G.O.A.T.” (Grimiest Of All Time), which is the highly anticipated follow-up to 2015’s “Reject 2”, up next is their collaborative project with the legendary Just Blaze and another with Alchemist.
Westside Gunn & Conway are here to stay so pay attention because your favorite producer’s favorite producers are, so wake up if you haven’t already. Check out Westside Gunn’s latest mixtape with DJ Green Lantern “Hitler On Steroids” and check out some of my favorite joints by them below