Day Ninety-Seven: Summer’s for Music – Gunplay’s “Acquitted”
by Tom Noonan
Acquitted is one of those mixtapes that could easily be pulled into the ephemera, a collection of mostly unmemorable songs from Maybach Music’s end of the bench player, Gunplay. There was a little buzz around it after the legal trouble Gunplay got into (he pulled a gun on his now ex-accountant, an admittedly fun term I never thought I’d have to write while covering music) and his killer verse on Kendrick Lamar’s “Cereal and Cartoons” (one that might have completely hijacked the scene if he wasn’t competing with Compton’s good son) but was quickly overshadowed by Maybach Music’s much more notable releases and announcements during a recent proverbial blowing of Rick Ross’s load (your welcome for the image), a load that included French Montana’s debut, some new Wale material, and the upcoming Self Made Vol. 3.
Despite all of these footnotes, Acquitted was released and got as much of the internet stirring as was expected, which is to say that most of the internet stuck to covering French Montana’s (underwhelming) Pardon My French and the new Wale leaks. The lack of attention is mostly deserved because Acquitted is at about the level of competency it had to be for Gunplay to retain his Maybach affiliation relevancy. For the first nine tracks, Acquitted is a strong reminder of exactly who Gunplay is as an artist: a solid, often clever role player who is capable of chilling transcendence, like the final verse of the Peryon featuring “Salute Me” where he warns, “AR15, scrate, scar the scene/Only way you breathin’ if the grace of God intervene/I’m bringing trouble on the double, my double back gon’ be me/N—as gon’ perish they babies and parents gon’ bleed.” It’s a pair of lines that you will roll over and over again in your head after hearing them, a particular type of sincere insanity that Maybach artists are usually best known for feigning. If there is one thing Gunplay can do well, it is the legitimate inspiration of discomfort, making us fully aware that mostly everything he says is not an act.
This is exactly what makes Acquitted‘s closing, and far and away best, track, “Bible on the Dash” so affecting. Aside from sounding like a more polished version of the lighter side of DMX’s singing from “One More Road to Cross”, the surprisingly vulnerable vocal performance from Gunplay on this track, one that is contrasted brilliantly with production that sounds like it was built exclusively for the Don himself, is both the most noteworthy part of the mixtape and the most genuinely enthralling. “Bible on the Dash”, unlike the rest of the album, feels more spontaneous, like Gunplay had laid it all down in a one-take freestyle. I’m sure this isn’t the case, it couldn’t be, but there’s something about the song that is unforgettable, it moves like so few Maybach joints can. If Gunplay is just a role player, then this is his Gary Neal moment. In the song’s final verse Gunplay asks, “Am I gonna get the slammer or the casket?” For the time being, as the most reliably trustworthy narrator in the Maybach group, it looks like he has a legitimate third option.
Listen to “Bible on the Dash” below: