In the opening track of his Sensational debut album, Yung Gravy references “Thotiana,” a “fucked up” political situation, and hallmarks of childhood nostalgia, à la Captain Crunch and PlayStation, over a beat that has no right being as heavenly as it is. In spite of the ludicrous nature of the whole affair, there is an undeniable charm to the Minnesotan rapper, and it is a charisma he flexes time and time again throughout his surreal debut album.
Minnesota is known for its fair share of things–those being the birthplace of Target, regularly hitting negative temperatures like it is a competition no one else in the US is competing in, and, now, Yung Gravy. As far as per capita goes, Minnesota has been sorely lacking in its exportation of promising rappers (outside Lizzo, we see you girl) but Sensational makes a strong case for Yung Gravy as a truly idiosyncratic force in hip-hop.
With a flow that calls to mind the upbeat delivery of a youth pastor, production that always goes in, and a noted affection for the oldies, Sensational arrives as a masterclass in infectious juxtaposition. Nowhere is this clearer than when boarding the “Gravy Train,” which builds its foundation from Maxine Nightingale’s disco hit “Right Back Where We Started From.” The mirrored repetition of Nightingale’s hit single and modern-day trap rap creates the swirling crux of one hell of a standout moment in an album that realizes its greatest strength is to take standard musical conventions, throw them at the wall, and play with them with a sense of reckless abandonment.
Whether it be enlisting Juicy J to pen a raunchy love song, to fictional Maple Syrup mascot Mrs. Buttersworth in “Buttered Up,” or delighting in the Seussian escapades of “1 Thot 2 Thot Red Thot Blue Thot,” Yung Gravy never comes across a tired joke that has outstayed its welcome. There is a genuine sense of musicality and reverence for the oldies to be found in the uproariously good time that is Sensational.
Listen to Sensational below: