Van Gunz - Gunz Ctrl

If you haven’t heard of Van Gunz, that is all about to change once you peep his producer album ‘Gunz Ctrl‘. Repping the Nod Factor Academy, VG has worked on a range of projects, including the dope Mountain God trilogy with the homie Poe Mack, but no he wants the entire hip hop world to know who he is and what he can do. Short version: he’s a dope AF producer with a knack for drum patterns and dusty boom bap soundtracks, with an ear for quality bars to slay his beats. But this project is more than that – it’s a well-crafted, entertaining album that features some top tier emcees doing their thing, and a soundtrack that has you nodding the noggin and turning that volume all the way up!

You can feel the influences of Preemo, and Pete Rock in the way Gunz goes about his music, and this sets the table for emcees to eat. And when you have mic monsters like Bad Seed, Ruste Juxx, ethemadassassin, Seven Da Pantha, ILLPO, OC From NC and of course Poe Mack – the result is going to be epic. And Gunz Ctrl is definitely that. For the most part, Van Gunz uses emcees he is familiar with, has a relationship with, or who he has met on tour etc. That respect can be felt when you hear the quality of bars that get dropped on the majority of the 15 tracks (minus the intro!), with very few stumbles along the path to triumph.

Gunz Ctrl Intro‘ is hilarious and sets the scene through audio snippets, before the soulful ‘House of Blak‘ kicks things off musically, a subtle score providing the robust audio canvas for Poe Mack, Mallz and Marvalyss to step up and leave their verbal imprint upon. ‘Luv‘ is up next and The Bad Seed delivers the fire, using his iconic street narrative style flow to ride the triumphant boom bap beat and discuss that ‘four letter word’ that gets MAD played out! Ruste Juxx and Minnix go all out on ‘Golden Bars‘ which is a compelte head nodder, from the punchy drums to the emphatic delivery of venom from the emcees before ILLPO get busy on the measured, Wild West infused ‘Hundo‘.

Johnny Ciggs spits on ‘Fearless‘ which is a fierce track. The drums are sharp, the vocal sample is haunting and Ciggs really delivers, spitting some introspective street poetry that helps bring the joint to life. Next up is ‘Salt Bae Remix‘ and OC From NC crafts a creative path through the intricate track that entertains from start to finish, before ‘Powers of Pain‘ hits the headphones and brings a moody, melancholic energy with the production. The keys resonate with feeling while Poe Mack and ethemadassassin perfectly ride the beat, delivering a flawless victory with their well timed and perfectly crafted prose.

Adolescence‘ is part-funk, part-dusty boom bap and fully flames! Rec Riddles delivery is effortless, yet everything he says is poignant and powerful and this track is one of many highlights for hip hop heads worldwide. Crafsmen and Minnix bring their high quality pen games to ‘Bullet Club‘ which uses dope samples to really bring that 90’s boom bap feel then Seven Da Pantha holds it down solo on ‘Bunchy’s Return‘, a track that would be at home on an Army Of The Pharoahs album, and SDP uses his gruff, baritone flow to knock the bars out of the park.

While not the strongest bars from Benny Holiday, ‘Varsity Club‘ still bangs largely in part because of Van Gunz production and Poe Mack jumping on the track to bring it home with potency. The keys that introduce ‘Delusional‘ are exquisite as they dance through the airwaves, and the drums are more subtle – allowing the track to breathe. Putting Quanstar and Dee Up on this particular production was clever as the balance between production and poets was brilliant. Nytelife owns the joint on ‘Isolation‘, taking the vibrant and uplifting production to the rack for the score – his syrupy, sentimental bars taking control of the joint in an understated anthem.

Wise From Intelligent‘ featuring Taiyamo Denku is skippable due to the choppy, uninteresting and somewhat uninspired bars, even with some serial killer-esque, haunting production from Van Gunz. It feels a little out of place with the other high quality bars and tracks on the project, but luckily we’re back on track to close out the album with ‘Rushmore Remix‘ which features Rec Riddles, Poe Mack and Quanstar. This track brings the right energy, the production is back to that boom bap, boppy, head nodding goodness that we love, and each emcee brings the wordplay and weaves it throughout the instrumental.

Banger: Adolescence, Hundo, Bunchy’s Return, Luv, Powers of Pain, Golden bars.

Score: 8.5 / 10. This is a really dope hip hop album. Van Gunz has really used this platform for his producer album to showcase just what he can do on the boards, and the artists he has chosen to spit bars, were mostly solid choices. I have a big feeling we are going to see some top tier emcees reach out to VG for some of his instrumentals. ‘Gunz Ctrl‘ is an interesting and entertaining listen, an audio showcase of dope and different hip hop, done well. Get this when it drops August 4!

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About The Author

By Brutus Maximus

Founder of Raw Side Hip Hop. Been rocking with the hip hop culture for over 30 years. Love the creativity, authenticity of the art and the culture as a whole. Shout out to the real ones making and supporting true hip hip and the artists who make it!