A beginner’s guide to yacht rock in five essential albums

Yacht rock, soft rock – call it what you will. Here are five brilliant albums that define the genre in all its bearded, Hawaiian shirted glory

Segments of five classic yacht rock album covers

Was there really ever a genre called yacht rock ? Prior to the 2005 online comedy series of the same name, what we now know of as yacht rock was simply soft rock, largely of the 1970s variety, but occasionally dipping into the 80s as well. It was music that was smooth, slick and did little to challenge the listener in the way that heavy metal or punk rock would. Yet  sold in the multi-millions, made superstars of its creators, and was beloved by industry professionals for the stellar musicianship and high production values. And above all, it was detested by the critics.

Today, yacht rock is the ultimate guilty pleasure genre. Its patron saints - almost exclusively men, generally bearded – never appeared on posters that graced adolescents’ walls. Yet bands and artists such as The Doobie Brothers , Loggins & Messina and Christopher Cross made sweet, soulful music featuring some of the finest musicians of the era and sounding so, so perfect in the process.

Unlike prog, hair metal or krautrock, the boundaries of what constitutes yacht rock are blurred. There’s little to link the jazzy noodlings of Steely Dan , Boz Scaggs’ smooth pop and the later, 80s pop-rock of Hall & Oates beyond the fact that the various members of Toto appeared on many of these albums, making them kind of a yacht rock mafia.

Yacht rock, soft rock, call it what you will: the men who made it are laughing all the way to the bank in their Hawaiian shirts and well-sculpted facial hair while the rest of us celebrate their music in all its frictionless glory. Critics be damned, these are the five essential yacht rock albums for those who want to plunge into the genre.

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Loggins & Messina - Full Sail (1973)

Kenny Loggins was a boyish-looking yet handsomely bearded fellow with a penchant for country-esque ballads. Jim Messina had been in Buffalo Springfield and country rockers Poco . The pair teamed up to record some of Loggins’ material and ended up becoming an unlikely success story, notching up hits with  1971 single The House At Pooh Corner and the following year’s Your Mama Don’t Dance , later covered by hair metallers Poison.

But 1973’s Full Sail was their apex. Featuring the ultimate yacht rock album cover (two men, one yacht), the album itself contains everything from the calypso frivolity of Lahaina , and the smooth jazz of Travellin’ Blues to the joyously upbeat My Music and hit ballad Watching The River Run . This is yacht rock’s ground zero. Boys, what did you unleash?

Boz Scaggs - Silk Degrees (1976)

An early member of the Steve Miller Band , guitarist and vocalist Boz Scaggs’ solo career had begun 1969. But nothing had clicked with the record buying public until he hooked up with David Paich, Jeff Porcaro and David Hungate, all of whom were on the verge of forming Toto , and recorded his seventh solo album, Silk Degrees . A masterful mix of smooth pop and slick ballads, it spawned hits in the shape of It’s Over , Lowdown , We’re All Alone (made famous by Rita Coolidge) and the pulsating Lido Shuffle , a bona fide dancefloor filler.

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Steely Dan - Aja (1977)

Arguments rage as to whether these protagonists of achingly cool and clever jazz rock belong in the yacht rock genre, but hey, if the people who made the Yacht Rock online series say the are, who are we to argue?

Their sixth album, Aja , saw Walter Becker and Donald Fagan stretching out into longer form pieces of music that were funkier and jazzier than they’d ever been before, capping it off with one of the most pristine production jobs ever – such were their levels of perfectionism that six crack session guitarists tried and failed to lay down the guitar solo on Peg to their satisfaction (it was the seventh, Jay Graydon, who nailed it). Bonus yacht rock points: auxiliary Dan backing vocalist/keyboard player Michael McDonald was also a member of The Doobie Brothers.

The Doobie Brothers – Minute By Minute (1978)

In 1974, Steely Dan guitarist Jeff ‘Skunk’ Baxter moved across to hugely successful blues rockers The Doobie Brothers on a free transfer. The following year, he suggested recruiting Dan backing singer/pianist Michael McDonald as a replacement for the Doobies’ ailing guitarist/vocalist Tom Johnstone.

With his blue-eyed soul croon and knack for writing uptempo R&B-infused songs, McDonald helped nudge the band towards smoother waters. By 1978’s Minute By Minute , they had fully transformed from moustachioed chooglers into yacht rock kingpins. The album’s blend of soft rock and R&B reached its apotheosis on the majestic What A Fool Believes – co-written with Kenny Loggins, naturally – which ultimately helped turn McDonald into a bigger star than the band. For the record, the singer’s 1986 Sweet Freedom compilation is also yacht rock gold.

Christopher Cross - Christopher Cross (1979)

When Christopher Cross released his self-titled debut album in December 1979, no-one knew who he was. A year later, he’d racked up four Top 20 hits and swept the boards at the Grammy Awards.

It’s not hard to see why: Cross’ spectacular voice was matched by the brilliance of his songs. Everyone knows Ride Like The Wind , featuring that Michael McDonald fella on backing vocals, but it was the mellower Sailing that hit the No. 1 spot ( Ride… only managed No. 2). A year later Cross’ theme to the movie Arthur won him and co-writer Burt Bacharach an Oscar.

Cross was no slouch as a musician either: Steely Dan had asked him to play on their albums and he even filled in for a sick Ritchie Blackmore at a Deep Purple US show back in 1970.

Jerry Ewing

Writer and broadcaster Jerry Ewing is the Editor of Prog Magazine which he founded for Future Publishing in 2009. He grew up in Sydney and began his writing career in London for Metal Forces magazine in 1989. He has since written for Metal Hammer, Maxim, Vox, Stuff and Bizarre magazines, among others. He created and edited Classic Rock Magazine for Dennis Publishing in 1998 and is the author of a variety of books on both music and sport, including Wonderous Stories; A Journey Through The Landscape Of Progressive Rock.

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Since co-founding ¡MAYDAY!, Bernz has been central to the group’s success. In 2016, Bernz and his booming flow took center stage with the release of his solo debut album, See You On The Other Side. The project thrilled long-term fans & garnered first time listeners. Whether he’s the key component of ¡MAYDAY! or a standalone artist, Bernz' sound remains a fixture in the fabric. ...   more


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The 10 Best Yacht Rock Albums To Own On Vinyl

Climb aboard for the smoothest records you'll ever own.

In 2006, a group of buddies produced a series of short videos called “Yacht Rock.” The videos defined yacht rock as a genre of smooth music, born out of Southern California between 1976 and 1984, and featuring exceptional musicianship with roots in R&B, jazz and folk rock. Its stars: Michael McDonald, Kenny Loggins, Toto and Steely Dan.

The last 11 years have tested the genre’s buoyancy. Since 2006, yacht rock has been co-opted by Big Radio, whose yacht playlists include flimsy AM gold like Bertie Higgins and California corporate rock like the Eagles. Luckily the originators of the term, through their podcast Beyond Yacht Rock, have helped to set the parameters of the genre.

Good yacht rock is frequently credited to many of the same names: established players like multi-instrumentalist Jay Graydon, producer David Foster, percussionist Victor Feldman, and hard-working-studio-band-turned-80s-superstars Toto. And it’s heavier on R&B and jazz than folk rock, incorporating the work of Quincy Jones, Michael Jackson and others.

With that, here are the 10 best yacht rock albums to start your collection - or, shall I say, to christen your vessel.

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Toto: Toto IV (1982, Columbia)

The album that shot Toto into superstardom is a perfect primer for the yacht rock sound. “Rosanna,” with drummer Jeff Porcaro’s iconic shuffle technique, makes multiple left turns, a crucial component of most yacht songs. You’ll know this album for “Rosanna” and No. 1 smash “Africa,” but the slow groove of “Waiting For Your Love” shows the band’s ability to dip into soul and R&B, a trait that helped them on cuts like “Human Nature” and “The Lady in My Life” off another yacht rock album, Michael Jackson’s Thriller. Toto could also bring the heat with mid-tempo stunners like “Make Believe” and “Good For You.” A deep listen of Toto IV reveals a group of professionals rarely wasting notes.

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Boz Scaggs: Silk Degrees (1976, CBS)

If yacht rock is a marriage of jazz, R&B and singer-songwriter folk rock, Boz Scaggs’ breakout Silk Degrees is one of the earliest attempts at matrimony. Boz employed David Paich, David Hungate and Jeff and Joe Porcaro for the album, and their work here would set a template for the Toto sound (combine “Lowdown” and “Lido Shuffle” and you get something near “Rosanna”). There’s a few too many strings here, Boz gets a little too lyrical (Yacht Rock isn’t necessarily a lyricist’s genre) and the bass is so up front that it can feel like disco. But if you want to know the roots of yacht rock, Silk Degrees is a good choice.

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Michael McDonald: If That’s What it Takes (1982, Warner Bros.)

Two crucial instruments in yacht rock: the Fender Rhodes keyboard and McDonald’s husky, blue-eyed soul tenor. If That’s What it Takes, McDonald’s solo debut after leaving the Doobie Brothers, has plenty of both. “I Keep Forgettin’ (Every Time You’re Near)” is essential yacht, a chill-out anthem featuring half of Toto, who also appear on the ballad “That’s Why” and slightly discofied “No Such Luck.” McDonald’s buddy Loggins co-writes “I Gotta Try,” one of many yacht anthems about fools looking to change their luck. And make no mistake: McDonald is the poster boy for fools constantly searching for small victories.

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Kenny Loggins: High Adventure (1982, Columbia)

Loggins isn’t always yacht rock. Sometimes, like on High Adventure, he’s far too tender (“The More We Try”) or he’s far too heavy (“Swear Your Love”). But there’s a lot of yacht rock range on this enormously fun album, from the Latin-tinged “Heartlight” to the gritty “If It’s Not What You’re Looking For.” Then there’s Loggins’ version of “I Gotta Try” and, finally, a quintessential yacht rock hit, “Heart to Heart.” Loggins is a little lighter and slightly more soulful on his 1979 album Keep the Fire, which includes the stunning “This Is It.” He’s certainly an essential artist in the yacht canon, but always step lightly with Loggins. The guy is a chameleon.

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Dane Donohue: Dane Donohue (1978, Columbia)

There are countless yacht rock albums either lost in bargain bins or available only as imports, from the 1980 self-titled album by Airplay (listen to the quintessential “Nothin’ You Can Do About It”) to 1978’s Blue Virgin Isles by Swedish singer Ted Gardestad. Dane Donohue’s 1978 self-titled debut is another, featuring Graydon, Feldman, members of Toto and Los Angeles studio professionals like Larry Carlton, Jai Winding and Steve Gadd. “Can’t Be Seen” has a distinct yacht sound, as does the crisp “Woman,” which features backing vocals from J.D. Souther and Stevie Nicks. You’ll tell quickly that Donohue is a third-rate vocal talent for the genre (McDonald or, say, Al Jarreau would elevate these tracks), but the point is the smooth, polished sound. Yacht rock is a player’s genre.

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Steely Dan: Aja (1978, ABC)

Steely Dan’s importance to yacht rock can’t be overstated. They introduced the world to McDonald (“Any World [That I’m Welcome To]” off Katy Lied ) and curated an inner circle of studio professionals versed in jazz, R&B and soul, who would later perfect the yacht sound. Arguably the Dan is smoothest on the 1980 smash Gaucho , but Aja finds Walter Becker and Donald Fagen comfortably hitting a middle-ground stride. You’ve probably heard much of the album already, from the slithering journey of “Deacon Blues” to the percolating “Peg,” but what’s amazing about Aja is its ability to position Steely Dan as a mainstream hit factory while remaining expansive and adventurous (the title track, “I Got the News”).

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Patti Austin: Every Home Should Have One (1981, Qwest)

Yacht rock is popularly considered a white man’s genre, but its roots are in the R&B and jazz that manifest itself as yacht soul on outstanding albums like Austin’s Every Home Should Have One. Examples? “Do You Love Me?” sounds awfully like Loggins’ “I Gotta Try.” And one could imagine McDonald singing “The Way I Feel.” “Love Me to Death” could have been a Michael Jackson outtake, or it’s just a rewrite of “Off the Wall.” The album’s high point is the slow burn “Baby, Come to Me,” which includes James Ingram’s smooth delivery, plus Toto’s Lukather on guitar and Foster on synthesizer. Check George Benson’s Give Me the Night and the Pointer Sisters’ Special Things for more examples of yacht soul.

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Al Jarreau: Breakin’ Away (1981, Warner Bros.)

If there’s an album that showcases the yacht rock sound at its cleanest, Breakin’ Away may take the trophy. All of the pertinent studio personnel is on the album, from Toto to Graydon - who’s on as producer - laying down an adventurous, crisp template for Jarreau ( R.I.P .) to deliver his sharp, joyous tenor, complete with plenty of scatting. “We’re In This Love Together” and the title track (with Earth, Wind & Fire horns, a Graydon specialty) are mid-tempo yacht rock beauties. Elsewhere Jarreau experiments with jazzier flavors, but the musicianship is still top-notch. Check out Jarreau’s Jarreau from 1982 as another prime yacht rock attempt; both are albums you’ll want to spin on a bright summer morning.

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Pages: Pages (1981, Capitol)

Before Richard Page and Steve George formed half of mid-1980s MTV stars Mr. Mister, their buttery voices were integral components of the yacht rock sound, contributing backing vocals on countless tracks. Their 1981 self-titled release (they also released a self-titled album in 1978 that’s more funkified) is pure yacht. Graydon produced half of the album, and Jeff Porcaro shows up frequently behind the kit. The flip-side of the album is more adventurous, but side A is pound-for-pound the best example of the genre you’ll find on vinyl, and one of the best finds of the sound (Pages’ previous Future Street is a little more proggy but still a treat). Seize Pages and you’ll soon find yourself on some roof deck singing along with Page and George.

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Christopher Cross: Christopher Cross (1979, Warner Bros.)

Critics may scoff at Cross’ self-titled debut, a massive success that won five Grammys and scored four top-20 hits, but the album is impeccably performed and produced. Nearly everyone involved on the album is a yacht rock mainstay, from producer Michael Omartian down to the usual suspects, Graydon, Feldman and McDonald, who contributes those iconic backing vocals in “Ride Like the Wind.” “Never Be the Same” and “Say You’ll Be Mine” are both solid mid-tempo hits for the era. And then there’s “Sailing.” It’s actually a sonic outlier for the yacht rock genre, heavy on acoustic guitar and strings. But its message fits the genre (a fool searching for inner peace), and yeah, it’s still undeniably smooth.

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The Sea [2021 Reissue]

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Somali Yacht Club Lviv, Ukraine

Somali Yacht Club is a stoner rock trio from Lviv, Ukraine. The band mixes elements of stoner rock, psychedelic rock, shoegazing and post-metal in their music. Formed in 2010, as a jam band, but evolved to a main band for it's members. In August 2011 self-released their first four-song EP “Sandsongs”. In late 2014 are releasing first LP 'The Sun' on Bilocation Records and Robustfellow. ...   more


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SOMALI YACHT CLUB Reveals New Album, Premieres New Single

Keith Clement

Psychedelic stoner rock trio  SOMALI YACHT CLUB  will be releasing their third full-length, ‘The Space,’ on April 22 via Season of Mist, making it the band’s debut to the label! The album art, tracklisting, and details can be found below. The band is now sharing the first new single, “Silver,” which can be heard at  THIS LOCATION .

‘The Space’ can be pre-saved via all digital streaming platforms  HERE   and pre-ordered  HERE .

The cover artwork, which was created by Dasha Pliska, can be found below along with the tracklist!

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Tracklist: 1.  Silver  (5:14) 2. Pulsar (9:05) 3. Obscurum (5:03) 4. Echo of Direction (9:43) 5. Gold (3:31) 6. Momentum (12:29)

SOMALI YACHT CLUB  have previously announced a European tour with MARS RED SKY in March 2022. A full list of confirmed shows can be found below.

SOMALI YACHT CLUB W/ MARS RED SKY 10.03.22 Osnabrück (DE) Jugendzentrum Westwerk 11.03.22 Berlin (DE) cassiopeia Berlin 12.03.22 Dresden (DE) Beatpol 13.03.22 Hannover (DE) Béi Chéz Heinz 14.03.22 Dortmund (DE) JunkYard 15.03.22 Eindhoven (NL) Effenaar 16.03.22 Nijmegen (NL) Doornroosje 17.03.22 Luxemburg (LU) Kulturfabrik Esch-sur-Alzette 18.03.22 Paris (FR) Petit Bain 19.03.22 Karlsruhe (DE) Alte Hackerei 20.03.22 Wiesbaden (DE) Schlachthof Wiesbaden 21.03.22 Basel (CH) Hirscheneck 22.03.22 Innsbruck (AT) p.m.k 23.03.22 Salzburg (AT) Rockhouse Salzburg 24.03.22 Munich (DE) Feierwerk 25.03.22 Leipzig (DE) WERK2-Kulturfabrik 26.03.22 Hamburg (DE) Knust Hamburg

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SOMALI YACHT CLUB  is a moniker designed to represent dichotomy and variance. Named after the real-life pirates who attack vessels off the Somalian coast and the peaceful leisure of those with time to kill and money to burn,  SOMALI YACHT CLUB  musically embodies the boundless, wide-open, quiet/loud spaces that atmospheric post-rock and metal occupy. After over a decade of mesmerizing audiences in their Ukrainian home base and Eastern Europe,  SOMALI YACHT CLUB  inked a deal with Season of Mist in 2021 to reissue their back catalogue and release their third full-length,  The Space .

The band’s story began in 2010 when guitarist/vocalist Ihor sent drummer Lesyk a random message on a Ukrainian musician’s forum to play a hybrid of math rock, post-hardcore, stoner and post-metal. Intrigued, Lesyk called bassist Artur to create the band’s first (and only) lineup. The initial jam sessions went so well that the trio decided to move forward on a permanent basis. Relying on albums such as Moccasin’s  The Last Leaf , Ahkmed’s early EPs, Mars Red Sky’s self-titled, the entire Sungrazer discography and the legendary Isis duo of  Oceanic  and  Panopticon , as well as Down, Electric Wizard, Queens of the Stone Age and now-labelmates Weedeater, the  SOMALI YACHT CLUB  sound was formulated.

“It was a very naive and simple time,” comments the band. “Ihor, as always, was full of energy and it was not enough for him for the bands in which he played at the time. We just started to jam and found the blend that fits all of us. Also, we always loved bands and particular songs that are eclectic — we get a lot of inspiration from such things. They are fun to play and hopefully fun to listen to.” However broad and varied their influences may be,  SOMALI YACHT CLUB  started to forge their own path via their self-released 2011  Sandsongs  and 2013  Desert Walls  EP. The pair laid the groundwork for their formidable full-length debut,  The Sun , which channeled spaced-out, psychedelic jams with churning stoner doom metal. Their amalgamation of all-things stoner continued through the 2015  Sun’s Eyes  EP and 2018  The Sea  full-length, the latter noted by  The Sludgelord  that it “succeeds in taking the listener on that well-known ride of warm tones and meandering melodies” and  MetalStorm.net  stating, “ SOMALI YACHT CLUB  offers up a fresh spin on a rich but well-explored genre and in doing so deliver one of the early highlights of 2018.”

The new year brings forth  The Space . The album was tracked at various points throughout 2021 at Jenny Records near Lviv, Ukraine, with mixing and mastering courtesy of Yaroslav Tseluiko at Jaro Sound in the Czech Republic. The cover depicts a supernova and was handled by Dasha Pliska, who was also responsible for  The Sun  and  The Sea  artwork.  The Space  also completes the trilogy that began with  The Sun  and  The Sea , but, according to the band, there is no unifying theme.

“It’s a bit hard to tell a real story in our music because, let’s be honest — it’s still more instrumental-focused.  The Space  is very loosely connected to a single concept as it has even more abstract and personal lyrical themes. Also, the song ‘Pulsar’ was the first written and named song for this album, so it set a path for the title.”   The Space  finds  SOMALI YACHT CLUB  now in full expanse of their sonic elements, delivering six cuts of atmospheric post-rock/metal with dashes of melancholy and introspection. Ihor’s relaxed, if not smooth delivery runs parallel to his driving, fuzzed-out riffs that are dotted with traces of melody. The rhythm section of Artur and Lesyk is the undisputed anchor, maintaining a careful ebb and flow that embellishes songs that demand room to breathe and require texture and thoughtfulness — notably the 12-minute-plus closer, “Momentum,” which features one of the band’s finest jams to date. Such numbers resulted from  SOMALI YACHT CLUB ’s regular practice sessions that bore more than enough new material.

“We wrote  The Space  pretty much the same way as the previous two,” says the band. “We brought an idea or a riff to rehearsal, play and jam it a lot of times to see if it doesn’t go stale, record demos, listen, think, re-think, change everything and so on. This time we went to the studio with more than enough material — some even didn’t get a proper recording as we understood it needed even more time to mature and be reconsidered. Some ideas became an outtake; some songs were created right in the studio.”

Like their name serving a dual purpose, so does  SOMALI YACHT CLUB ’s output on  The Space . The album contains a regular balancing act between heaviness and soft, clean guitar moments that will place  SOMALI YACHT CLUB  into the echelons of bands who have previously mastered the timeless art of dynamics.  The Space  is the perfect elixir in a time rife with uncertainty, menace and chaos. Alas, the new age of stoner has arrived.

Genre:  psychedelic stoner rock

Line-up : Ihor – guitar, vocals, keys Artur – bass Oleksa – drums

Recording studio:  Jenny Records Producer / sound engineer:  Maryan Kryskuv Mixing & mastering studio and engineer : JARO SOUND / Jaroslav Celujko

Biography:  David E. Gehlke

Cover art:  Dasha Pliska

Pre-sales :  https://redirect.season-of-mist.com/syc-thespace Available formats:  CD digipak, vinyl black and coloured

Links: https://somaliyachtclub.bandcamp.com/ https://facebook.com/Somaliyachtclub https://www.instagram.com/somaliyachtclub/

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Addison Herron-Wheeler

  • Album Reviews

Album Review: Somali Yacht Club – The Sea

  • February 26, 2018
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Somali Yacht Club already made major waves with their first release,  The Sun.  Now they are back with The Sea , an even stronger recording that completely managed to avoid the sophomore slump.

For those familiar with the band, this relies on a lot of the same tropes: heavy, repetitive drumming, fuzzed-out vocals, and stony riffs. But it is even more nuanced and particular, in that it focuses specifically on soundscapes and crafting good songwriting.

“Blood Leaves a Trail” is by far the stand-out track; it has almost a Conan-like ferocity to it, despite still being laid-back and incredibly docile. “84 Days” is another good one, with serious focus on the rhythm and repetition, almost to the point of trance.

Give this a listen if you loved the first record, or if you are a stoner doom fan. I personally discovered this band via Spotify stumbling, and had to do a double-take. Check out a few tracks and you will see what I mean. There are plenty of groups that try and emulate this sound and fall a little flat, or sound like knock-offs, and Somali Yacht Club definitely have their own, unique thing going on.

Purchase the album here. 

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Pharrell Sets Sail on His Yacht Rock Era With Surprise New Album

By Jon Blistein

Jon Blistein

Pharrell appears to be celebrating his 51st birthday today, April 5, with a gift to fans — a new album that’s totally free to stream and download through one specific website .

To say there aren’t many confirmable details about the 10-track project is an understatement. Based purely on the album artwork, the project appears to be called Black Yacht Rock Vol. 1: City of Limitless Access and might be credited to a group called Virginia — though, for all we know, Virginia is part of the title. 

And while it’s definitely Pharrell singing on the album, his name isn’t attached anywhere to the project, not even the metadata of the Mp3s if you download the LP (it’s similarly unclear if he played all the instruments himself or brought in some collaborators). The musician hasn’t promoted the album on his website or social media.

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Black Yacht Rock Vol. 1 (if that is the official title) marks Pharrell’s first solo album (if we can actually consider this a solo album) since 2014’s Girl . He’s released two other collaborative singles this year, “Good People” with Mumford and Sons and “Doctor (Work It Out)” with Miley Cyrus. 

Pharrell also has a couple of movie projects in the works. The first, announced earlier this year, will be a biopic of sorts but told entirely through Lego brick animation (it’s fittingly called Piece By Piece ). The other is an as-yet-untitled collaboration with filmmaker Michel Gondry , which will be set in Virginia Beach, Virginia in 1977 (where Pharrell grew up) and feature a cast of Halle Bailey, Kelvin Harrison Jr., and Da’Vine Joy Randolph.

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Gunna’s ‘One of Wun’ Album: All 20 Tracks Ranked

The YSL rapper connects with Normani, Roddy Ricch and more.

By Michael Saponara

Michael Saponara

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Gunna season has returned. The king of pushin P is back with the arrival of his One of Wun album on Friday (May 10).

With the weight of his first post-prison release off his shoulders thanks to 2023’s A Gift & a Curse , the YSL rapper can exhale and seems to be getting back to having fun and living the Gunna lavish lifestyle.

On this project, Gunna is still showing off his designer threads and tapping into new sonics like afrobeats, but he’s also opening up about life experiences such as getting wired a six-figure sum of cash to play a private show, which ended up inspiring “Whatsapp (Wassam).”

Executive produced by Turbo, One of Wun boasts 20 tracks in total including previously released singles like “Whatsapp (Wassam)” and “Prada Dem” featuring Offset.

While his last LP was left free of features, Gunna invites Normani, Leon Bridges and Roddy Ricch into the fold to complete the album.

Gunna is already on the road in support of the project. The 30-year-old kicked off The Bittersweet Tour on May 4 at Columbus’ Schottenstein Center. He’ll be making stops in Chicago, Houston, Miami and more cities across the country before wrapping up at Atlanta’s State Farm Arena for a hometown reunion.

The “Fukumean” rapper’s last album A Gift & a Curse arrived in June 2023 and topped  Billboard ‘s  Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums  chart with a peak of No. 3 on the  Billboard 200 .

Sift through the album and into our rankings of all 20 tracks from One of Wun below.

Who would’ve predicted Gunna giving NFL legend and University of Colorado football coach Deion Sanders a shout-out on his album? He did exactly that while saluting his coaching career. “Every b—h sniff a whole kilo/ I catch a ho like T.O./ N—a ain’t lame or a peon/ Put him on game, I coach him like Deion,” he raps. What trio is Gunna referencing because the last “big three” talk led to rap’s civil war?

"Back in the A"

No matter where he travels across the globe, Atlanta will always be home for Gunna. A rare beat with a desolate texture compared to the happiness exuded by the YSL rapper throughout One of Wun . Gunna reflects on his come-up, exchanging Chevy Impalas for cars worth $500,000. “My car is half a million dollars/ I came a long way from Impalas/ I still got some snakes and iguanas,” he raps. “Back in the A” holds toward the back of the pack.

"Life's Changing"

Life’s looking different for Gunna these days through his Dior shades. It’s all about growth as the 30-year-old even references being involved in the stock market, which is something he never would’ve given any thought during the Drip Season era.

Per Urban Dictionary , a treesh is a woman who bounces around to a new man every week and is very easy to reach via DMs. Gunna appears to be hesitant to get intimate with “treesh,” but he overcomes his fears and sneaky links with her. Although, he’s not in love and won’t fully trust this romantic partner. It’s amazing that Gunna can take slang words and flip them into a catchy chorus or full-blown song.

"Clear My Rain" Feat. Leon Bridges

Multi-hyphenate Leon Bridges comes to the rescue to helm soothing chorus duties and allow Gunna to focus on crafting his version of a joyous love song. “Runnin’ all through the mansion, we playin’ hide ‘n seek/ Love your smile, when you happy, see all 32 teeth/ New Chanel, double C/ Pushin’ it all year round, puttin’ that shit on to the T/ Bae ass phat, waist down it remind me of a P,” he rhymes with his head in the clouds.

"On One Tonight"

The shortest track on the album is an intoxicating 91-second sprint to the finish line. Gunna picks up the tempo while showing off a $200,000 AP watch purchase and showcases his high taste level while traveling the globe. He paints a luxurious picture of heading from Greece to Spain on a Eurotrip while shrewdly name-dropping the Hatteras yacht company. “Across the sea, huh, Hatteras in Mykonos, Greece, man, they love me in Spain,” he brags.


A guitar riff mixed with hollow drums to cleanse the palate. Gunna isn’t much of a cards player, but he’s ready to go all-in with his hand here. The YSL rapper has his game face on and even when he’s serious about life while running up the millions and focusing on his career, he’s still going to hit listeners with Paris trip boasting and designer outfit flossing.


Long nights lead to early days. Gunna is feeling the paranoia that comes with celebrity life and takes shots at his peers who he feels are hoping to knock him off his pedestal and take his spot in the rap game. “N—-s can’t even tell I’m high as hell, but I feel low/ I ain’t ever sad, I’ma trust the process and I let it all go,” he proclaims while exhaling a deep breath.

A very fitting album opener with Gunna welcoming us into One of Wun . Wunna sets the tone letting fans he ain’t going anywhere anytime soon and declares himself as one of the GOATs. “I’m goin’ against all the odds/ A GOAT, no way I can hide,” he raps. Gunna touches on his body transformation and flexes that he’s dropping $50,000 a year on his trainer. With a slim physique and reinvigorated focus on his career, it’s money well spent.

Gunna has seen the best a life of luxury has to offer and has also spent months trapped inside a jail cell. Dealing with the latter makes him more appreciative of experiencing the wins and losses that come with life. He reminisces on certain times fighting with his girl, counting up millions and joining the mile high club. It’s almost as if he’s venting to a journal or cathartically speaking to a higher power seeking guidance going forward.

"Neck On a Yacht"

Turbo relayed to Billboard that they recorded a chunk of the project on a yacht in the middle of the ocean, which Gunna alludes to here. Surrounded by women on a yacht off the coast of Miami while making music with your homies, it doesn’t get more opulent than that. And as if that isn’t enough, Gunna references times they’d head to Florida’s mainland for a night of making it rain at the famed Tootsie’s gentleman’s club. Wunna’s in a great head space through the album’s first three tracks.

"Hakuna Matata"

Gunna’s version of “Hakuna Matata” is a bit different than The Lion King ‘s interpretation. Regardless, the YSL rapper has his feet kicked up with no worries — word to the 2012 Lil Wayne classic — and brags about counting up millions and chartering private jets to the next cities on tour. “Young Wunna on tour, I BP the charter, living hakuna matata,” he raps. The laid-back track will fall somewhere in the middle of the pack.

"Today I Did Good"

An uplifting bop from Gunna with the triumphant “Today I Did Good.” He implores fans to join him on his workout journey. Even if he remains a single bachelor, Wunna lets it be known that he remains a gentleman taking the high road through it all. Gunna is starting to wrap the project up on a high note.

"$$$" Feat. Normani

A rare collab on the album with a cameo from Normani. The Fifth Harmony alum uses her voice as an instrument serving as more of a hallucinogenic aide to put listeners at ease. Gunna and Normani exchanged features recently and it appears he got the better of the trade-off.

"Prada Dem" Feat. Offset

Offset was one of the first rappers to publicly embrace Gunna and work with him after coming home from prison. Many were hesitant following his Alford Plea deal reached in December 2022 in the YSL trial, but that didn’t stop the Migos rapper from reuniting with his Atlanta comrade. Set and Gunna take liftoff for an infectious collab while flexing the piles of designer garments in their wardrobe. Between the pair of fashionable rappers, the money they’ve spent on designer clothes could match a small country’s GDP.

"Still Prevail"

The woozy “Still Prevail” went viral upon its release when fans speculated that Gunna was sniping at Drake when referencing others having cosmetic surgery to get their abs. “I clear all the tabs They pay for their abs,” he raps while leaving the target up for interpretation. Kendrick accused Drake of going under the knife for a six-pack on the scathing “Euphoria” during their boiling feud.

"One of Wun"

Hard-hitting production courtesy of Turbo prodigy Kenny Stuntin, Gunna gets in a zone and opens up about how fun his last year’s been. Looking at himself as a sex symbol of sorts, Gunna jumps from memories of an orgy with white women to bragging about being the best-dressed at the Met Gala. Hitting the weights isn’t the only workout he’s getting while reflecting on a sex session in between sets at the gym.

Still, Gunna is always gonna look to motivate listeners as he recalls going from a shoe box full of cash to becoming a millionaire. “2018, ‘came a millionaire, made a career, n—-s thought I’d be dead,” the YSL rapper flexes. “One of Wun” makes him 2/2 on the project.

"Whatsapp (Wassam)"

The cinematic “Whatsapp (Wassam)” arrived as a potent single last week ahead of the album. For those that don’t know, “wassam” is Atlanta slang for basically saying, “What’s up?” or “What’s happening?” My translation lesson is now over — back to the record. Turbo decoded the single for Billboard when explaining that it was inspired by a time when Gunna was wired six figures by foreigners who wanted him to give a brief performance at a private party. Good business results in a good song.

"Let It Breathe" Feat. Roddy Ricch

It’s been a minute since Roddy Ricch has delivered an impactful verse but he understood the assignment and candidly comes through in the clutch on “Let It Breathe.” While landing haymakers on the competition, Gunna compares his boxing training to Creed , but there’s a deeper connection to the Michael B. Jordan-starring 2015 blockbuster than he thinks. Rocky (Sylvester Stallone) gets through to Adonis during a moving scene with a powerful mantra that can be applied to Gunna’s One of Wun . “One Step At A Time. One Punch At A Time. One Round At A Time.” Gunna’s overcome the odds to come out on top once again.

"Time Reveals, Be Careful What You Wish for"

Gunna saves a pair of potent missiles for the final round with the two-part “Time Reveals, Be Careful What You Wish for” serving as a worthy album closer. “Time Reveals” is Wunna’s “Marvin’s Room.” He wants to be the provider in a relationship moving like a boss but realizes it’s better if they go their separate ways. Time heals all.

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