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Mic Check: Atlanta rapper Gunna is back with supersized ‘Wunna’ release

Atlanta rapper Gunna releases a deluxe version of his No. 1 album, "Wunna," on July 24, 2020.
Atlanta rapper Gunna releases a deluxe version of his No. 1 album, "Wunna," on July 24, 2020.

Credit: Contributed

Credit: Contributed

Editor’s note: With live music and concert reviews on hold due to COVID-19, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution is focusing on how Georgia musicians are spending their time in our feature, Mic Check.

Even in the midst of a pandemic, May was a memorable month for rapper Gunna.

The College Park native, born Sergio Giavanni Kitchens, released his second album, “Wunna,” and watched it debut at the top of the Billboard 200 album chart.

But the achievement wasn’t completely unexpected, given the success of his 2019 debut, “Drip or Drown 2,” which spawned the seven-million-selling single, “Drip Too Hard,” with fellow Atlantan Lil Baby.

On July 24, Gunna released a super-sized version of “Wunna,” featuring songs with Future and Lil Uzi Vert. He’s also thinking about presenting fans with a livestream on YouTube to support the expanded release.

Calling earlier this week from Los Angeles, where he’s resided the past month to work in his studio there, Gunna talked about how he spent some free time in the early months of the pandemic and why he appreciates having other Atlanta rappers on his songs.

Atlanta rapper Gunna releases a deluxe version of his No. 1 album, "Wunna," on July 24, 2020.
Atlanta rapper Gunna releases a deluxe version of his No. 1 album, "Wunna," on July 24, 2020.

Credit: Contributed

Credit: Contributed

Your second album came out in May, but since you couldn’t tour to support it, how have you been spending time the past few months?

I’ve been talking a lot about police brutality (Gunna’s livestream album release from a Los Angeles rooftop in May benefited the George Floyd Memorial Fund), and music is work right now. But I got to work on family time and stuff I wasn’t able to do before from being on the road.

What music have you been listening to lately? Who are some of your influences?

My older songs that I hadn’t released; I kinda vibed out with those. My musical influences, I’d say Young Thug, James Brown, Nate Dogg, Sade. My mom used to always listen to her. I like every song she would play, and I know them to this day. She was one of the artists who stuck with me.

You recorded “Wunna” in Jamaica. What do you think that location brought to the music rather than staying in Atlanta?

Everything, like a vibe, like the energy. I feel like it brought a different light on this album, like the scenery, just different things that made me feel like I wasn’t in Atlanta and wasn’t the same person. I was doing me. I wasn’t trying to go to a show or do interviews. I was just relaxed. It was like, we might do some music or we might just get drunk and party.

You have a lot of friends on the album, like Young Thug and Lil Baby. What does it mean to you to have other artists from Atlanta on your songs?

I feel like it’s love. Most of the artists, they’re my real friends; they’re not just rap friends. It’s just genuine. I’ve already got the songs, so at this point, we were just picking through them together.

What are fans going to get on the deluxe version of “Wunna”?

I’m just trying to get the fans more music, the diehard fans who have been listening to old snippets, and some things I hadn’t put out before. Some of these songs I wrote after the album came out, and some I wasn’t ready to put out yet.

Tell me about your involvement with Goodr. (Gunna worked with the Atlanta organization to provide free groceries to more than 300 families in early July.)

It was something I would normally do out of the kindness of my heart, to give back to my people and show appreciation for the community. My team wants to do something (charitable) quarterly, but I want to do it whenever I can give back. It might not be a lot, but something I can afford. I feel like it’s important to give back, especially now that we’re going through (all of this). But we should be giving back even if we aren’t going through it.

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