By: Tommy “T-Rod” Rodriguez
The Gravy Train refuses to stop.
Minnesota rapper Matthew Hauri, better known as Yung Gravy, is in one of the most creative (and odd) periods of his life right now. In a press release provided by both Universal Music Group and Republic Records, the lanky and laidback artist gave insight into the work behind his most recent album: between references to MILFS, his love of disco and prolific work ethic, there’s much more to Gravy’s artistry than just a surface-level humor and the virality of singles like “Mr. Clean.”
The album he has prepped for listeners, titled Gasanova, proves that Gravy has a lot up his shiny sleeves. Recorded over 2020’s quarantine, Gasanova continues Gravy’s mix of Soundcloud-planted volume, ignorant humor and carefree attitude, but this album feels the most essentric and well structured yet. Gravy himself said that he simply wants his listeners to take one simple message from his music: don’t give a shit. This album is the epitome of not having a care in the world, and it’s a great listen because of it.
Gasanova opens with the elegant and bass-bumping “Always Saucy,” Gravy’s favorite cut on the record. It’s easy to see why: the track perfectly sets the tone for the simultaneously glitzy, absurd, and catchy elements the rest of the album has coursing in its veins. Gravy, Ski Mask the Slump God, and TrippythaKid carry an insane amount of chemistry over the beat, unloading fast flows and sticky vocal melodies over a sample of the iconic “Temptation Sensation” theme. It’s cheesy and belligerent…but it works perfectly as a trap-styled banger that carries its own unique flavor.
The mix of humorous and concise elements is Gravy’s sweet spot, and he hits it throughout Gasanova, making it one of his most fulfilling projects yet. On the best tracks here, you’ll be transported to a corner of Gravy’s multicolored mind: he compares his success to Martha Stewart’s on the R&B-tinged “Martha Stewart,” and makes one of 2020’s most hilarious-yet-catchy spa anthems on the buttery “Swimming Lessons.” Despite the off-kilter subject matter Gravy may tackle, his hooks and charisma keep the songs relatively fresh and exciting, especially on these particular tracks. His lyrics, while ignorant and damn-near childish, still have a magnetic energy about them. Gravy is that one friend who is simultaneously the goofball and ladies man of the group, bringing in the crowd and taking the cutest attendees out on an intergalactic disco journey.
Speaking of freshness, that is definitely something that a bulk of Gasanova’s tracks bring to the table. Gravy’s production choices are lush as a rainforest: whether you’re hearing Latin grooves on the standout “yup!” or the shotgun-blasts of horns on the brazen “Gas Money,” Gravy’s identity is splattered on the foreground and background simultaneously. While the rest of the rap competition is composing minimalist tunes, Gravy aims for maximalist sounds. Sometimes the maximalism backfires, like on the ugly kicks and disco-synths of “oops!,” or the awkward flute tunes of “Whole Foods,” but oftentimes it leads to success, like on the blissful pop production on “Party at my Mama’s House.” Even when Gravy raps about having “eighteensomes” with his side chicks at his mom’s house, I can’t help but smile and bob my head to the whimsical mix of synths and vocal layering.
Maximalism in Gravy’s sound can be found in more than just his songs: they’re embedded in his song structures. One of my favorite aspects of his approach to Gasanova is his use of features: each guest’s contribution is stretched to the limit of its potential, crafting a unique chemistry with Gravy. “Bags of Chips” is downright silly at points, but Gravy’s writing and Bobby Raps’s charisma make the song an unlikely contender for the album’s most memorable track. Gravy’s unlikely linkup with Young Dolph on the thundering “Steve Austin” combines Memphis and Minnesota in a fascinatingly weird, aggressive way. It’s one of Gravy’s most unusual songs…but it bangs. A wild Chief Keef appears twice in the record, offering his drill-centric energy to the relatively lowkey “Drip on my Dresser” and bombastic COUNTRY song “Tampa Bay Bustdown.” Gravy’s presence, more so than other artists, ensures that the song’s guests stays on topic: even while I may not vibe with the instrumental of “Whole Foods,” Gravy’s commitment to grocery store intercourse is admirable, no doubt inspiring bbno$ to do the same in his writing sessions.
Overall, the journey Gasanova presents is a fun one, if a bit inconsistent here and there. While there are many ideas on deck here, Gravy still pilots the Gravy Train with a surprising level of expertise, commanding his vessel to a station of ignorance and bliss. With catchy songwriting, a unique personality, and flavorful production, I can’t help but want to stowaway on the Gravy Train and see where he goes next!
Tracks to Save: “Always Saucy,” “Martha Stewart,” “Bags of Chips,” “Steve Austin,” “yup!,” “Gas Money,” “Party at my Mama’s House,” “Swimming Lessons,” “Tampa Bay Bustdown”
Tracks to Skip: “oops!,” “jack money bean”
Special thanks to Yung Gravy, Universal Music Group, Republic Records, and all other parties for allowing us to preview this album! Listen to the album below!
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