For the past 2 years or so, you’ve heard me talk a lot about this particular hip-hop collective coming out of Buffalo, NY: Griselda. Consisting of Westside Gunn, Conway the Machine and Benny the Butcher, these guys have been making waves in the hip-hop game for some time now for their new-era boom-bap aesthetic. Granted for myself, my introduction to them was mainly through Westside Gunn, thanks to albums like FLYGOD and Supreme Blientele, the latter of which happened to land on my best albums of 2018 list.
I did get into Conway and Benny a bit later as time went by, and as you already know, back in 2017 the group signed a major label deal with Shady Records… and I admit I got kind of worried, considering Eminem as a label boss doesn’t have a good track record when it comes to handling other artists on his label. Look no further than the break-up of rap super-group Slaughterhouse (consisting of rappers Joe Budden, Crooked I, Joell Ortiz & Royce da 5’9″), and Yelawolf left the label not too long ago.
2019 has also been a busy year for the trio on all fronts, with EPs from Conway and Benny, two mixtapes from Gunn with his recent addition to the Hitler Wears Hermes mixtape series, and he also got a management deal with Roc Nation. With the album being over 45 minutes, all the production credits still go to their known associates Beat Butcha and Daringer, and the record being light on features, how is What Would Chine Gun Do?
Okay, having hearing a lot of Griselda stuff in the past year from all three rappers, I knew what to expect going in: coke raps, gun talk (but never in that glamorous portrayal), often telling tales based off their own experience, and the trio still has a way with their bars on the mic. The whole trio is still on their game, but Benny the Butcher does have some standout quotable lines on here.
Ah, hand on my clip, we animals, dismantle my strip
I’m 5’8″ but 6’11” if I stand on my bricks
I cancel y’all quick with the Glock I shoot cannonballs with (Doot, doot, doot)
You do get some references to the album title on the track “Scotties” when Gunn and Conway trade off bars. In case you don’t know who Chine Gunn is, he’s the late Marchello Lowery aka Machine Gunn Black, Benny’s half-brother and Westside’s first cousin who was murdered in Buffalo.
Ayo, ChineGun wore gloves in the summer, threw him my numbers
A pair of jumpers, hollow head lead dumpers (Boom, boom, boom, boom)
This Louis V shit, Virgil designed it
I got shot and a few niggas got murdered behind it (I’m right with them niggas)
Ayo, the MAC shoot silent (Ah), you just seen niggas droppin’
Who ran the yard? Who ran the phone? Who had the biggest locker?
Who had the Glock? Who had the MAC? Who had the biggest chopper (Brr)
You gettin’ shot, you gettin’ whacked, no need to get a doctor (Hahaha)
What would ChineGun do? You gettin’ shot if you ain’t from here (Yeah)
Closet full of blood bottoms, you can’t afford one pair (Hahahaha)
You niggas can’t compare, this shit is unfair (Talk to ’em)
Take a rapper chain and let my son wear it (Hah, yeah, ayy, look)
I do admit the one track “Kennedy” was funny considering Westside Gunn and featured singer Tiona Deniece are just saying “Blow yo’ f***ing face off” over a piano playing in the background.
Like I said, the features are very light, but they get the job done, especially with Raekwon on the intro track, giving salute and praise to the Griselda gang from one rapper from an iconic NY rap group to the next. A big surprise here is 50 Cent actually sounding good again with his feature on the track “City on the Map.” This one is mainly him and Conway rapping, and out of the two, Conway’s verse is better, but both are indeed great in this.
“This Old Groove” begins with this eerie, outer-space sounding beat, and then it goes into this smooth and soulful sounding groove, with Novel doing a verse and the outro, and if I had to make a top 5 songs in this album, this would be included with “Chef Dreds,” “Freddie HotSpot,” “Scotties,” & “May Store,” which feature a staple in mostly Westside Gunn albums: Keisha Plum doing spoken word at the end of the track.
What would ChineGun do?
Buffalo is ruthless, throw you off the roof shit
Kicked him in his face until he’s fuckin’ toothless
Murderous music, I’m from the fuckin’ zoo
City full of villains and mobsters too
Burner to his dome, what would ChineGun do?
It’s Griselda, nigga
Speaking of Westside Gunn staples, the outro “Lowery,” with Bro AA Rashid giving out some wisdom, is a fitting way to end the album… except it’s not. Remember that track “Bang!” with Conway featuring Eminem? Well, we got a remix of that along with the rest of the Griselda gang. Granted, it’s good and the only track with a hook, but Eminem’s verse is still in there and it’s worse than I remembered. I didn’t hate it as much as the first time but after hearing the rest of the Griselda gang on there, it was downhill from here.
The major label debut of the Griselda gang shows that while they have moved up in terms of where they are now, it doesn’t mean they’re doing any radical changes in their music. They still deliver on that grimy street music that they are known for and never sacrificed or compromised into rapping over trendy beats or doing what’s popular. It’s an album that still caters to their fans and hopefully can reach outside of that.
FINAL VERDICT: Buy It. Chine Gun is proud of these guys. They honored him well.
WWCD (What Would Chine Gun Do?) is on Shady/Griselda Records and is available on digital download and streaming services.