21 Savage – “Savage Mode II” review

This is the brand new & highly anticipated album from Atlanta rapper, songwriter & occasional producer 21 Savage. Coming on my radar by appearing on the iconic 2016 XXL Freshman Class list, he continued to make a household name for himself in the current trap landscape by dropping his 2nd EP Savage Mode with Metro Boomin’ producing it in it’s entirety shortly after. Then came his full-length debut Issa Album & an incredible collab album he did with Offset called Without Warning the following year, but it wouldn’t be until the end of 2018 where 21 dropped his most mature work to date with i am > i was. Fast forward a little over a month later, he was arrested by ICE after it was revealed that he was born in the UK & stayed in the US on an expired visa. Luckily, he was freed 10 days later & has been laying low for the most part since then. However, 21 is reuniting with Metro for a sequel to Savage Mode.

After the Morgan Freeman intro (who narrates the whole album), the first song “Runnin’” talks about buying a Hollywood bitch over a best sampling of Diana Ross’ “I Thought It Took a Little Time (But Today I Fell in Love)” while the track “Glock in My Lap” talks about being strapped everywhere over a haunting instrumental from Honorable C.N.O.T.E. & the So Icey Boyz. The song “Mr. Right Now” with Drake sees the 2 getting raunchy over a wavy beat while the track “Rich Nigga Shit” with Young Thug finds both of them getting materialistic over a spacious instrumental.

The song “Slidin’” spits that gun talk over a ghostly beat while the track “Many Men” is pretty much his own version of 50 Cent’s “Many Men (Wish Death)” down to sampling the actual joint itself. After the “Snitches & Rats” interlude, the actual “Snitches & Rats” song itself Young Nudy take aim at 6ix9ine then the track “My Dawg” pays tribute to Nipsey Hu$$le over a trap beat with some melancholic keyboard passages.

The song “Steppin’ on N****s” gets bloodthirsty over a beat that kinda has a dirty south feel to it while the track “Brand New Draco” gets boastful over a vibrant beat. The song “No Opp Left Behind” talks about corrupt cops over an instrumental with an apocalyptic atmosphere to it while the penultimate track “RIP Luv” talks about giving up on romance backed by a mournful beat with some co-production from Zaytoven. The album finishes with “San N Done”, where 21 ponders if this new chick is gonna ride for him over a nightly instrumental.

We all know that many sequel projects don’t exactly live up to the hype of the predecessor, but this is definitely an exception. 21’s maturity is very much present on here as it was on his last full-length album about 2 years ago & Metro Boomin’ manages to remind listeners of his place as one of the greatest producers in the trap subgenre.

Score: 3.5/5

21 Savage – “i am > i was” review

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21 Savage is a 26 year old rapper & producer from Atlanta, Georgia who I first caught wind of on the 2016 XXL Freshman Class. Shortly after, he dropped his 2nd EP Savage Mode with Metro Boomin’ producing it in it’s entirety. I wasn’t a fan of the project at first admittedly because I thought it was boring, but it has grown on me overtime. He dropped a solid full-length debut with Issa Album last summer & then last Halloween, he teamed up with Offset & Metro to put out one of the best collab projects of the decade: Without Warning. Now after spending a bulk of 2018 killing it with features, he’s dropping his highly anticipated sophomore album.

Things kick off with “a lot”, where Savage & surprisingly teams up with J. Cole to talk about what they’re thankful for over a soulful trap beat from DJ Dahi. The next song “break da law” pretty much speaks for itself over an eerie beat from the So Icey Boyz while the track “a&t (ass & titties)” with Yung Miami is a strip club anthem that interpolates the Hypnotize Camp Posse song of the same name & it goes over very well. The song “out for the night” is an ode to his lady over an airy beat while the track “gun smoke” talks about being a 1-man army over a dreary trap beat. The song “1.5” with Offset sees the 2 getting charismatically boastful over a Wheezy instrumental that actually has kind of a mafioso vibe to it while the track “all my friends” with Post Malone sees the 2 talking about how their fame has resulted in falling outs with their homies over a druggy beat.

The song “can’t leave without it” feels like a mediocre leftover from Gunna & Lil Baby’s recent collab tape Drip Harder down to the dime a dozen Wheezy production while the track “asmr” if you couldn’t tell serves as an equally whisper-delivered, cold blooded sequel to “Don’t Come Out the House” off of Metro Boomin’s latest album NOT ALL HEROES WEAR CAPES. The song “ball w/o you” is a breakup tune with a piano-laced trap beat from TM88 & even though the Cardo & 30 Roc produced “good day” is gritty on all fronts, it sounds out of place as 21 only handles the hook while ScHoolboy Q & Project Pat handle the verses. The track “pad lock” recalls life before a deal over a spacey trap beat while the song “monster” with Childish Gambino discuss how fame has changed them over a luscious piano instrumental. The penultimate track “letter 2 my momma” is a heartwarming dedication to 21’s mother Heather Abraham-Joseph & then the closer “4L” with Young Nudy see the 2 getting murderous over an Old Western/trap fusion.

Honestly, this was a pretty solid way for 21 Savage to end his year. There are some lowpoints on here but for the most part, the album truly lives up to it’s title as it lyrically sounds like that 21’s been maturing quite a bit.

Score: 3.5/5