Talking Wunna With Gunna
The Atlanta rapper discusses his new alter ego (and its eponymous upcoming album), how he’s handling the pandemic, and why he loves to get fully dressed even if he has nowhere to go
On Wunna, Gunna’s next album, he would like to introduce listeners to Wunna. The new name is simultaneously an acronym that doesn’t exactly roll off the tongue (“Wealthy Unapologetic Nigga Naturally Authentic”) and an alter-ego based on his astrological sign. On the album cover, Gunna’s new half is a Pixar-ready spaceman, suspended in an astrological chart with blonde dreadlocks and dazed eyes. As Wunna stares at the viewer, he’s both unsettling and funny, a stoned cartoon that knows something that we don’t.
A second moniker isn’t exactly new in rap. Eminem has Slim Shady. T.I. needed Tip. One could start a Wu-Tang-sized group with the amount of personalities Future’s created. Over the phone, what seems to distinguish Wunna from Gunna is that the latter has had time to relax. Somewhere in Atlanta, Gunna has been self-distancing like the rest of the world. After years spent climbing out of his stylistic forebear Young Thug’s shadow, he’s become a tireless touring artist and a one-man streaming machine in his own right. Your festival lineup or club night needs an infusion of drip? You know who to call. When a rap album needs a feature, Gunna is usually your guy (if not, the man he taught how to rap will also do). In 2020 alone, Gunna’s assisted Lil Uzi Vert, Megan Thee Stallion, Nav, and Camila Cabello with his woozy, lackadaisical delivery.
What Gunna wants more than anything from his new album — and, by extension, his fans — is simple: “I hope they understand that I’m a be here for a while,” Gunna shares. “So get used to me.”
How’s your time been during this pandemic?
I actually got a chance to get some things at home together. So I really got useful with the time, made the time useful.
How is Atlanta? Are things starting to get back to the normal? I heard the mall is open.
I’m taking it serious. Extremely serious, so I haven’t been stepping out. I haven’t been at no mall. I’ve still been on quarantine time. I know it ain’t as safe as it seems. I don’t think it’s back to normal yet, if you ask me.
What’s been the best thing you’ve watched during quarantine?
I was watching Netflix. I watched Ozark, [The] Blacklist. I never really had the chance to sit down and really watch a movie. It’s been a while. I’ve been enjoying that, too.
One of your favorite past times seems to be shopping. Now that places like Neiman Marcus are going bankrupt, stores are closed. How do you shop? Where do you shop?
Honestly, there’s nowhere to go so I don’t shop. Half of the time I can just go in the closet and grab something new, but it’s nowhere to go. The only time I really go to the mall is when I know I got an event coming up. If there’s nothing coming up I’m not going to do too much shopping. So this time from all the shopping I done did, I got new clothes that I never even got the chance to wear. So I’m still wearing new clothes.
I’ve noticed on Instagram, you’re still getting fits off every day. You’re getting up with a full wardrobe. Why is that so important when the whole world is wearing the same stuff every day, wearing pajamas in the house?
That’s just me. Even when I was a kid I used to get dressed, two, three times a day. I don’t know why. Ask my mom. But it’s something I used to do all the time. So now I just gotta. When you see me you know I’m going to have it on. That’s my life’s M.O. I love the clothes. I love to look good. I think that’s why I just wake up and just do it every day anyway.
Has the absence of touring and club appearance impacted your business?
A lot, because I’m a touring artist. I’m really booked up. I got shows. It’s really a difference for me. I’m chilling. I ain’t been home in two years. This long at a standstill? There ain’t no emotion in your business, [but] I’m that type of boss where I still pay my employees. We getting through it.
Have you been trying to offset that with handing in more features?
I done did so many features, they still clearing them. So at the end of the day I got features that they still owe me. By the time this probably over, I’ll still have a few features they still got to pay me. In other words, I can live off features for now.
When did you start working on the new album?
It had to have been the end of last year. I flew to Jamaica and I recorded out there for like three weeks. That’s basically where I came up with the whole WUNNA title [and] the majority of the songs that’s on the album out there.
What was Jamaica like?
It was fun. It was a vibe. I had my friends out there. I had a few women out there. I had fun. I wasn’t worried about shows or nothing. It was that time I took out for myself and my family.
What about the Jamaica trip inspired the title for the album?
Me being so relaxed and enjoying myself and having fun, I felt like I was the other side of me. The whole title of Wunna came because I’m a Gemini. You know how they say a Gemini is two people, I felt like I was my second person. The second person’s name just so happened to be Wunna.
How hectic was your life before you went to Jamaica, before the pandemic? I’m assuming you were constantly touring and recording.
I was working really hard. I was focused. I was doing more shows than anything, though. It wasn’t locked in to where I knew what I wanted to do. I just had the songs. I’m always in the studio, whether I’m in town or out of town. So I had songs. I didn’t really know how I wanted to deliver them, because I got so many titles. I got Drip Season 4. I’m in the process of making that. Drip or Drown 3, I didn’t know if I wanted to release those, be focused on them, or do something different. I ended up doing something different. That was my choice.
What inspired you to lead off with “Skybox” first?
I liked that song. I did that song in Jamaica. My DJ so happened to make that beat and now he’s a super producer of mine. He’s just making beats for me now, been locking in. I felt it was a special moment for both of us. I wanted to release that look also so he could get a look too, so people can get familiar with his sound and our sound together.
What was the most difficult part of making the album?
The hardest thing of making the album was just releasing it and finding the best time and making sure all my lines were together to release. That’s one of the main things you have to do as an artist, watch the timing and try to strategize everything out.
One of the standout songs is “Dollaz On My Mind,” which features Young Thug. At this point, what makes a song right for both of you to get on it?
I can get on any song he do and he can get on any song I do, because we can just relate to each other from being around each other so much we can do songs together. But if he was to play a beat, he might not have the same flow that I might come up with on the same song. We can still come together and make that song a hit.
Last year, it was teased that you, Baby, Future, and Young Thug may release Super Slimey 2. Is that still a possibility?
What’s your plan moving forward once everything starts get back to normal?
Yeah, I’m going on tour. I might go overseas and come back through the U.S. and by the time I’ll be dropping another album. That’s the plan for now.