Stunna Gambino is a student of the game. His rise in rap is best credited to mastering patience. In route to becoming the talk of his city, the Washington Heights (New York) upstart’s pain-filled melodies have caught the attention of many great, idiosyncratic talents in music (Rihanna, The Kid Laroi, Rowdy Rebel and more). And yet, Stunna remains unmoved by the co-signs: he’s in no rush to peak musically.
At 19-years-old, Stunna has already experienced what it feels like to be boss. During his performance at Rolling Loud Miami 2021, the Vulture Klub rep brought his family on stage. In his own words, “Just seeing them smile, that shit made me feel good,” he shares. “That’s the dream right there.” Through his music, Stunna’s artistry has provided his loved ones with the opportunity to experience his growth firsthand.
Outside of rap, Stunna has a vested interest in collectibles, so much so that his passion for toys has now translated into business. “When I start my merch I don’t wanna do just clothes, I wanna do toys too.” Drawing inspiration from Takashi Murakami (KAWS), Stunna’s expressive fondness for art will only enhance his digital footprint. Pushing the envelope on his creativity allows fans to peel back the onion and unearth what makes Stunna Gambino so unique.
Stunna’s growing discography – Underrated, “Heartless,” “Demons,” “Top Opp Vulture,” and most recently “ZAZA” – reveals that he has mainstream potential. He can bend his vocals at will, stretching beyond the nasally howls of melancholy expressed in music today. With a new album due this Fall, Stunna’s studied approach to conquering the rap game is going to ensure that his voice is heard on a global scale.
Check out our conversation below, lightly edited for clarity and context.
When were you first introduced to rap?
I been rapping since I was probably eight years old. My brother forced me into it and I grew love for it, so I started doing it on my own.
How long have you been making music?
Throughout your 10-year run, what do you feel like was your defining moment as an artist? What prompted you to start taking things seriously, on a professional level?
It’s all about patience and knowing it’s not a race: it’s a marathon. You gon’ make it when you make it. You can’t base your career off another nigga career.
When you’re performing on a stage like Rolling Loud, which is considered the Superbowl of rap, can you put this moment into words?
It’s a blessing. I had the whole family on stage, we don’t come from shit like that. Just seeing them smile, that shit made me feel good.
How does it feel to have your family experience your success firsthand?
Like a boss. That’s the dream right there.
Outside of music, where does your interests lie?
What type of creative are you exactly?
I used to draw when I was young but I’ve been getting into collecting, like figures and shit: vinyl, KAWS – by Takashi Murakami.
That’s interesting. How exactly did you become a collector?
I’m just picking up hobbies that I like. When I start my merch I don’t wanna do just clothes, I wanna do toys too. I’m getting knowledge (now) from all the big dogs. I’m tryna get into that real soon.
Is there a planned release date surrounding your merch drop just yet? Throwing in a collector’s item is a game-changer.
I got ideas and I have sketches but Ion have dates ‘cuz I’ve been learning game. They say it takes five months just to make a toy, and then another two months to ship it out. This is probably something that I’ll do next year around this time.
I think it’s great that you’re so open to being a student of the game. All things considered, what has been the toughest lesson you’ve learned so far in rap?
Be real versatile and just know how to play your role depending on who’s around. If you around the little bros you can be the boss, but if you’re around niggas you know that’s bigger than you, be the student. You don’t got nothing to say, don’t say nothing: don’t try to show off for anybody. Just sit back, peep game, and put in your own work.