On veteran Miami rapper Gunplay’s solo debut he introduces his presence on “Tell ’Em” with a myriad of metaphors: “Let me tell you who the [expletive] I am /I’m the report on the news /I’m the cork on the booze /I’m the Bugatti pedal . . .” Displaying sharp technique and wordplay, he promises something special. Disappointingly, the record quickly devolves into pro forma bluster as the rapper never reveals himself, opting instead for familiar thug posturing. As part of Rick Ross’s Maybach group, Gunplay falls prey to the passé coke, cash, guns, and women preoccupations Ross continues to peddle, while hip-hop clearly has moved on. Over a mix of ominous beats, trap, and West Coast bounce, the MC does bring an especially raw approach, with a brusque flow that recalls a decaf DMX, and shows he’s capable of something deeper when he skirts cliches and looks inward (“Leave Da Game”). “Blood on the Dope” is a viscerally brutal, immediate narrative that gets under the skin — unfortunately, too much of this seems like surface noise. (Out Friday)
ESSENTIAL “Tell ’Em”Ken Capobianco can be reached at email@example.com.