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GUNNA | COVER STORY | CALM BEFORE THE STORM

May 28, 2020

Read the full interview on Flaunt.com

We all know the game is about to change, we just don’t know in what way or to what severity. Enter Gunna, whose talent and self-prophesying flair exemplifies what will be the top of the pack in this “new” supposed normal. Gunna is not only smashing out supreme sounds, he’s influencing a whole new generation of artists when it comes to his sound, his personality, his lyricism, his ability to spit, his love for fashion, and of course, his drip.

 Hailing from College Park, Georgia—real name Sergio Kitchens—Gunna grew up engulfed in Atlanta culture, listening to the likes of OutKast, Cam’Ron, and Future. Since then, he’s catapulted to the forefront of the scene with his own “King of Drip” mentality, not only talking his talk but walking it too. If you see him out, chances are he’s decked out in designer from head to toe — bringing his lyrics to life with each step.

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This month, Gunna keeps his foot on the gas pedal releasing his new single titled “WUNNA,” the title track off just dropped sophomore album. The project, out via 300 Entertainment with features from Young Thug, Travis Scott, Lil Baby, and Roddy Rich, is accompanied by a documentary via Amazon Music, which follows the 26-year-old and his plush lifestyle, chock full of studio sessions, his team, and how these records are created.

 Before this heavily anticipated release, 2018’s “Drip Too Hard” with frequent collaborator Lil’ Baby would earn Gunna his first Grammy nomination for Best Rap/Sung Performance. Standout hits “Baby Birkin” and “Speed It Up” became certified Platinum. His critically-acclaimed debut album Drip or Drown 2 left fans in a frenzy, as the project peaked into the #1 spot for Best Hip-Hop album in the United States and #3 on the Billboard Top 200 charts. Beyond the accolades, Gunna remains loyal to his YSL family, with Young Thug giving him the co-sign he needed in the very beginning.

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For this cover story’s conversation, Flaunt caught up with Gunna who was posted in Atlanta amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. In a city where the majority of people are already outside, Gunna abides by the rules and stays indoors, practicing social distancing. He’s also been enjoying Netflix: “I was watching The Blacklist. Ozarkwas good. All Day and a Night was a good movie. Life, it’s about a dude who got a life sentence.”

Having started rapping at the age of 15, Gunna reminds us, “I’m still who I am today, but I was hungrier. I hadn’t mastered my craft yet. My style and what I was rapping about then, I still rap about it today.”

With Atlanta being one of the mecca’s of hip-hop and trap culture, Gunna’s secret to standing out is simple: “… Not listening to every new artist or every artist who’s already established,” he explains,  “because when I listen to other artists a lot, I’ll make a song like them. I might like a song they made, their sound or their rhythm might be stuck in my head. I’ll support them when they have an album out, but I don’t listen to them day to day because I start to sound like them. I might make a song that they’ve already made.”

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If there’s one song in 2020 that represents his stature, it’s his single “SKYBOX.” Gunna raps on the chorus, “Gettin’ high in the skybox, I can see yeah / Hot spot and it’s plushed out, and it’s lit yeah / Screwed, chopped, hmm, Gucci socks, got ’em drippin’ / Fuck the cops, we can’t be stopped, just admit it.”

He states, “It feels good to know I have a big influence. The younger generation’s looking up and getting game like I looked up and got game, it feels good.”

 Before Gunna was signed or reached his peak, his record “Sold Out Dates” with Lil Baby got leaked and ended up being a monumental moment in his career. Not only was he manifesting these sold out tour dates, but the reactions alone increased his fanbase exponentially. The song’s audio video on Youtube alone hails over 84 million views and counting.

Going back to “Drip Too Hard” (also with Lil Baby), Gunna knew the record was going to go crazy but he could never predict the impact it would have not only in his own life, but the rap game as a whole. Thankfully, his chemistry with Baby has never faltered since the beginning.

 “That’s my real deal partner, my friend, my brother. Shit, we’ve both watched each other grow. Nothing changed but our careers and our pockets. We’re still the same. I still look at Baby the same. He still acts exactly the same way and I know he’ll say the same for me. That’s how we continue to grow and grow over time, not letting shit get in between us or get in our way. We built from the ground up.”

Speaking of the early days, Gunna recalls the best advice Thug has ever bestowed on him. “Stay in the studio, he wants artists who are always in the studio. 9 times out of 10, he’s at the studio.”

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When it comes to collaborations, Gunna has worked with everybody from Young Thug to Future to Travis Scott. Reflecting on his come up, he states, “It’s cool man, really cool. To see myself listening to these big artists when I was in the hood and didn’t know if it’ll work out, then now I’m here. I’m in the rooms. Now, I’m the one rapping. You get to that level. It takes time. I waited my time and I’m perfecting it now.”

Speaking on his album title, Gunna explains how WUNNA is his alter ego. The idea originated while he was in Jamaica, kicking it, relaxing, and having a clear mind. With the location being a mere 2.5 hour flight from Atlanta, he was able to fly out his entire production team (Wheezy, Turbo) along with multiple crews of women.

WUNNA is the second me, I found out who he was. WUNNA’s really me showing more of my personality because Gunna was chill and drip. Drip God, what people accepted when I came in. People don’t know me too much, because I don’t really show it.”

Being a Gemini, Gunna explains how everybody has an alter ego. On one end, you can be calm, chill, go to work, and on the other end, you can go out and turn all the way up. In any case, he’s excited for his birthday next month (June 14th).

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In addition to the horoscope theme, WUNNA will give fans a side of Gunna they’ve never seen: his more spontaneous side. Gunna’s adventurous, flamboyant, and loves being himself. He states, ”I like to laugh, I like to joke around with my friends a lot. I don’t really show it because it’s hard to record something that’s natural.”

Evidently, Gunna loves to shop. His love for fashion has remained true from elementary to high school to now. He states, “I always like to put on clothes and look nice, that’s how I was raised. Growing up, it stuck with me from being around. Even people in my neighborhood, my older friends, they used to be fly. Put it on, we still get drippy now”

As a teenager, Kitchens was already rocking True Religion jeans and Gucci. “I used to do consignment, so I always had a thing for clothes anyway. Going to consignment stores, getting designer for the low. It’s the real deal but it might have been used and abused,” he states with a laugh.

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Now, Gunna prides himself in wearing things people can go back and wear later. “Some people don’t even know half of the stuff I wear because it’s so new and fresh. Everybody who’s the norm is not wearing it. I’m more a future tense of dressing, I wear shit you’re going to see coming up soon.”

When it comes to brands, he can hardly name them because there’s too many. He doesn’t just go to the mall, he’s going to the boutiques. If he’s out of town somewhere, he’ll find some exclusive drip that can only be found in that area. When it comes to shows, “I don’t perform in the same clothes twice. If I perform in something, that’s it. I’m not wearing it anymore.”

Additionally in his free time, he enjoys going to eat at nice restaurants and catching a vibe. While music and fashion are both huge priorities, he treasures the moments he spends with his family. Before COVID-19 hit, he was always going home to his mama’s house to spend quality time with the fam.

“Mother’s Day was great, I enjoyed it. I was with my mother, it’s a blessing. She wanted a diamond ring so she got a big diamond ring. I bought her another necklace to wear whenever she doesn’t want to wear the other necklace,” he adds with a chuckle.

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