Pray For Paris is a record that could not have come at a better time and with Griselda Records finally stemming that sense of respect that they deserve towards a mainstream level, Westside Gunn seems more in control than ever. His taste for the center stage, while occupying the shadows is impeccable and opens to some perfectly translated features and production choices here. With an introduction on “400 Million Plus Tax” which deciphers the infamous sale of the Da Vinci painting, “Salvator Mundi” which sold for $450.3 million in 2017. The allure of first-class brackets and high-profiled love is written all over Pray For Paris and the tip of the iceberg begins with “No Vacancy.”
As Westside Gunn takes his first vocal steps into the record, the 96” L Sienna Curtains pull back to an orchestra of grandeur from DJ Muggs production. The simple percussive one-two shuffle is accompanied by melodies of cascading pianos and soulful strings that are built for sunlight. This initial glance is like direct beams of serotonin hitting the brain and “No Vacancy” is easily one of the most beautiful intros coming from a Griselda member. There are the contrasts, however, that exist with Westside Gunn’s wordplay and dialect which still paints a muddied image. He describes, “Ayo, I whipped it with the left, I whipped it with the right. Three-quarter mink at the Tank fight. Your shit stepped on, get your yay right, I blow your brains out in broad daylight.” He then continues on to perform this necessary relationship formed to his start in Buffalo. He continues, “You ever made love to the pot? I ain’t think so. You ever threw up from smelling too many kilos?”
His vocals over this outstanding use of production are a staple for how Westside Gunn can capture this simply overwhelming sense of magnificent grace. In all accounts, FLY GOD is an awesome God, and as he transitions into the work of “French Toast,” with an instrumental from Camoflauge Monk that could be shown to anyone’s grandmother as a fitting walk through the Louvre. This here is one of the reasons that Pray For Paris continues to impress and display a prowess for elite connections that flood and also feature some of the strongest exhibitions of additional acts as well.
Artists from far left field like Joey Bada$$, Billie Essco and Tyler, The Creator make features on the tear-jerking track, “327” where words cannot simply encapsulate the arching elegance that flows from the track. If gentle love-taps are not for the mood, then “Shawn Vs. Flair” is enough to snap necks from the quick-tongued devil himself that rhymes over DJ Premier’s angelic punches.
It is incredibly difficult to find a misstep here on Pray For Paris and fans that know Westside Gunn will be able to almost instantaneously enjoy what is on the Bernardaud turquoise plate. Even as the 50-clip seems to empty and it is Westside Gunn dripped out in his Balenciaga coat, alone once again, he Tap dances his way off the blow and toward the table of reasons why hip-hop can be discussed over $1,000 dinners