Contemporary hip-hop has reached a stalemate in recent years. Mumble rappers are openly dissing those who perfected the craft before him, almost every beat is centered around compressed 808s and triplet hi-hat patterns, and this week’s Lil Whogivesashit sounds exactly like Lil Dumb-Dumb from three years ago. Of course there are exceptions, but it seems that those who haven’t at least tried to adapt to the “SoundCloud sound” have been pushed to the edges of the mainstream. 2019, however, already bears some hope with the release of G-Funk Supreme’s newest album, Unapologetic.
Born and raised in Long Beach, his moniker alone shows that he is not afraid of paying respects to the artists he grew up listening to. “I always a big fan of Snoop, the whole G-Funk era, Warren G, Nate Dogg and all that,” he remembers. “I think just growing up in Long Beach, I was always surround by that kinda sound.” While some of these influences can certainly be heard in his music, Unapologetic shows that G-Funk Supreme is versatile and uniquely himself. Collectively, these songs push the boundaries of contemporary hip-hop by melding elements from various sub-genres to create G-Funk Supreme’s distinctive sound.
The first track on the album, “Lightwork”, definitely has that hi-hat triplet-driven energetic feel, which makes trap so enjoyable and easy to listen to. G-Funk Supreme’s signature smooth delivery is relatively more syncopated and intense than on some of his other material, but he maintains his charisma through the song’s lyrics. “Everybody wanna win, but don’t wanna get dirty… Let’s keep it real, your whole life is filtered. Shit ain’t real in person ” is an instance of classic G-Funk reminding his audience of the value of hard work and authenticity.
“Everybody knows what Instagram is about,” he explains, “Everybody knows that some people put a filter on what they say or what they do. It’s just a feeling, like, alright do whatever you gotta do, but be real about it. Just put no filters on whatever you gotta do, whatever you’re saying.”
Since the release of his first album, 2015’s Forever and a Day, G-Funk Supreme has earned a reputation for his dedication and “Do It Yourself” work ethic. He earned his Bachelor’s degree in Mechanical Engineering while recording that album, taught himself how to shoot and direct his own music videos, and still designs all of his own promotional material to this day. “Somebody who’s trying to paint a picture has to not just give direction, but pick up the brush,” G-Funk says.
One of the most infectious songs on the album is “Roll Wit Me,” which features Sacramento artist, Deano. The head-bobbing bass, old school synthesizer, G-Funk’s laid back verses, and Deano’s soulful voice make for a sound that is both nostalgic and fresh. Even the most soulless prude couldn’t resist the feel of this groove.
Other standout tracks on the album include, “Nothin 2 Something,” “Yeah Yeah,” “Missed Calls Feat. VBo,” and “All I Know.” These songs are all stylistically different from each other, but they maintain a certain cohesiveness through G-Funk’s unmistakable flow. Lyrically, they work together to reflect his story of self-determination. “Everything that I say in my raps is based on moments in my life,” G-Funk says. This makes for a certain candidness that lies at the core of these tracks.
Unapologetic is not just the title, but the spirit of this album. “I think with my first album, it was me giving the world who I was as a person, but not giving too much,” he explains. “I think how I’ve grown from then to now is being able to understand that vulnerability is not a weakness. I used that to my advantage and was able to pinpoint certain moments and not have to feel like I was embarrassed or like people were gonna look at me a certain way. I just kinda stopped caring about what people were thinking.”
This authenticity is what makes G-Funk Supreme stand out in today’s climate of formulaic hip hop. The fact that he is not afraid to take stylistic or lyrical risks has allowed him to craft a sound that is entirely his own. G-Funk is currently booking a tour to support the release of Unapologetic and rumor has it that he’s looking at taking his DIY spirit to an entirely new level. (G-Funkchella anyone?)