Westside Gunn raps like he’s not even supposed to be in the booth. On record, the Buffalo MC has little time for wordplay or even changing his flow up slightly. His fierce delivery sounds more than a little like Ghostface Killah. So, it’s only appropriate that his second album is entitled Supreme Blientele.

In a way, Gunn isn’t supposed to be here. He came into the rap world through managing his brother (and member of his own Griselda Records), Conway. While Gunn was happy to promote his brother, he had no intentions of picking up the mic himself. Then, Conway was shot. Twice. In the head. Like Michael Corleone, Alvin Lamar Worthy put aside his reluctance and stepped up for his family.

Conway thankfully pulled through and kept rapping, with he and Gunn both eventually signing with Eminem's Shady Records, no less. He can be heard on Supreme Blientele alongside Gunn and cohort (and cousin, it's all in the family) Benny (the Butcher) on ‘Brutus.’ Over a mellow but atmospheric beat from Pete Rock, all three rappers demonstrate their perspectives on life in the streets, from the (relatively) level-headed (Benny) to the wildcard (Conway) to the harder to decipher (Westside Gunn). While Gunn’s lyrics and topics are comprehensible, what’s going on inside of him isn’t always clear.

Supreme Blientele revels in subverting expectations. In an album chock full of guests, Gunn is the third rapper to appear on his own album (after Benny and an especially-raspy Jadakiss), and fourth overall speaker. Originally titled Chris Benoit (with accompanying artwork) the album opens with a sample of retired wrestler Arn Anderson speaking about/to the then-living Benoit, who’s tragic story is just another reminder of the horrifying realities of CTE, particularly with the recent suicide of college football star Tyler Hilinski. Gunn’s not the first rapper to bring up Benoit (beat to the punch by Insane Clown Posse, no less), but the world of wrestling resonates with Gunn. He has a duo with Conway called “Hall & Nash” in honor of famed tag team ‘The Outsiders,’ and namechecks multiple wrestlers, many well into middle-age and retired, including Sabu, Ric Martel, and Dean Malenko.

Listen to the album without consulting the tracklisting and you’re not going to envision an arena full of wrestling fans or a montage of spectacular finishing moves. This is a somber, grim affair that paints an ugly picture of Buffalo. Gunn’s city is only mentioned once in passing, and it often seems as though he’s too fed up to pay it even the slightest lip service. He speaks of his involvement in the drug production and gangbanging as if it’s preordained. He knows it’s a mess of addiction and violence, but he has to look out for himself.

While Supreme Blientele deals largely with dealing, he doesn’t act like he “sold drugs for Escobar in the 80s.” This album can’t compete with Hell Hath No Fury or Lord Willin’, but it has different ideals. A line like “Give me two bricks, I’ll stretch it to five” on the hook to ‘Dean Malenko’ is delivered as a statement, not a boast. Gunn is at his best when he’s emphasizing resourcefulness instead of kingpin ambitions. On ‘Brossface Brippler,’ he simply says he “got rich off of cocaine” and it subtracts from the tension. He’s shown up on that track by both Benny (“Saw my family on drugs, that's what made me whip the soda”) and Busta Rhymes (“This motherfucker distribute butter like I'm spreading it on wheat toast”). When Gunn touches upon the realities of substance abuse on his customers, like on the intriguing but unfulfilling ‘Wrestlemania 20’ with Anderson .Paak, he doesn’t sound as inspired.

Though the guests all generally fit in well on Supreme Blientele (with the exception of Roc Marciano, who managed to slip “Opinions are like buttholes” into ‘Ric Martel’), the best moments on the record are when Gunn handles mic duties himself. For someone who said, “I didn’t want to rap at all,” he can rattle off verses without a moment’s hesitation. The haunting ‘Elizabeth’ features a saxophone-lead beat by The Alchemist as Gunn celebrates his triumphs but mourns all of his lost and locked up cohorts. On ‘WESTSIDE,’ (with cinematic production from Statik Selektah), he drops some of his sharpest lines (“Carry a man? I'd rather carry my kids first").

Gunn is a highly skilled rapper, but he doesn't quite bring Supreme Blientele together to be the street epic it could’ve been. There’s a handful of sub-two minute tracks that feel like scraps whose absence wouldn’t make a difference. There are also some misses in the production, such as the overuse of the Ornella Vanoni sample on ‘GODS Don’t Bleed’ and the constant gunfire adlibs (BOOMBOOMBOOMBOOMBOOMBOOMBOOM). Finally, the Chris Benoit/wrestling motif feels more like an afterthought than inspiration. You can’t include so many wrestling samples and track title tributes without making a more substantial connection between them and your album. But Supreme Blientele is still a worthwhile listen that should stick with you and help keep Griselda Records on your lips as Gunn and Conway grow closer to their major label debuts.