GunDei is a seasoned underground mc. With releases like “Grand moun” and “There Goes Da Naybahood”, its no wonder why he is already a respected mc. His newest release is titled “The Place of the Skull” which focuses on how one’s bright future is corrupted by the environment they are stuck in. With such a conceptually rich topic, can GunDei smoothly execute these ideas into a cohesive body of work?
Lyrically, GunDei tells a compelling story of the events which destroy the dreamers. From the album’s opener “Lawd, Have Mercy”, we listen to the heartfelt tragedy that many in the ghetto face. The second track, “Dark Knights” with Fred The Godson, is a definite standout as the two exchange verses on how one is thrown into and adapted to the criminal underworld of America. The next few tracks go on to further the narrative as each cut brings a new topic to the table. We see GunDei’s versatility as he raps from the perspectives of a gangster, child, and more. Cuts like “So Amazing” and “Ghetto Wayz” were some of the most powerful to me on this run. Towards the end of the tracklist, “Real Izm” with Che Noir stood out to me as it depicts the chaos in the world with a more hopeful and positive light. The album closes out with its grand finale “Blok Muzik”, which summarizes everything we just heard while also tapping into the more emotional side of everything which has occurred leading up to this moment. All in all, GunDei pushes his deep narrative with his first-person experience of everything he talks about.
Sonically, the album complements the narrative Gun is trying to push. Most of the beats are gloomy and gritty, which near perfectly match the vibe of each track. Cuts like “Dark Knights and the “The Place of the Skull” exemplify this. On the other side of things, instrumentals like “Press Play” and “Against the System” are pretty upbeat and intuitive, yet they stay true to the record’s narrative. “Ghetto Wayz” stuck out to me the most as its change of pace and vibe challenges the listener to think with its sappy organ-based instrumental. Overall, the sonic direction of the project only helps get across the message Dei is trying to convey.
In conclusion, “The Place of the Skull” is one of the most unique and powerful records I have heard in a while. The touching lyricism isn’t just profound; it is important as GunDei poses serious topics that need to be addressed to a broader audience. This is an extraordinary project, and any hip hop fan should listen as records like these come around only once and a while!
Highlights: Lyricism, Social Awareness, Production