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

Metro Boomin’ – “NOT ALL HEROES WEAR CAPES” review

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Metro Boomin’ is a 25 year old producer from St. Louis, Missouri who gained notoriety in the middle of this decade as the top producer in the trap subgenre of hip hop. He’s gone on to produce some of the best trap projects of the decade in their entireties including Future’s D.S. 2 (Dirty Sprite 2), Gucci Mane’s Droptopwop and the Offset/21 Savage’s Without Warning. But this past spring, he announced his retirement from making music & he has only produced on a couple albums since then. However, he is returning with his full-length debut.

The opener “10AM (Save the World)” by Gucci Mane talks about the famous life over an amazingly moody beat, but Wizzop‘s delivery could’ve been much better. The next song “Overdue” by Travis Scott talks about out-doing yourself over a clever ambient sample & while the track “Don’t Come Out the House” by 21 Savage gets murderous over some prominent bass & piano chords. There are even a couple points where he’s literally whispering on beat & even though it turned me off at first, I’ve come to appreciate it the more I listened to the album. The song “Dreamcatcher” by Swae Lee & Travis Scott sees the 2 getting playful over a settle instrumental while the track “Space Cadet” by Gunna gets boastful over a dreamy trap beat. The song “10 Freaky Girls” by 21 Savage is self-explanatory over an instrumental with a murky atmosphere to it while the track “Up to Something” is a sinister sounding yet melodic Metro Thuggin’ reunion.

The “Only 1” interlude by Travis Scott is an 80 second cut that sounds heavily influenced by Kanye West’s 808s & Heartbreak while then the song “Lesbian” sees Gunna teaming up with his mentor Young Thug to tell the listener how they both fell in love with a woman who actually happens to be a lesbian over a somber beat. The track “Borrowed Love” by Swae Lee & Wizkid is of course a boring love ballad & if that wasn’t enough, the song right after “Only You” by Offset & J Balvin is a vomit-inducing attempt at going dancehall. The penultimate track on here “No More” by Kodak Black & 21 Savage talks about being faded over a fittingly intoxicating instrumental & then the closer “No Complaints” by Offset & Drake is still a haunting yet fun wealth anthem despite being released as a stand alone single a year prior.

I knew something was up when those missing person billboards about Young Metro appeared about a week ago & this album is makes me really happy about his official return. Probably slightly more so than the new Swizz Beatz album POISON that came out the same day as this, because at least Metro produces every single track. He really sounds like he took his time with crafting these beats & almost every performer just nails it. If you wanna hear the hottest producer in hip hop’s most popular subgenre at the current moment making a triumphant return, then PLEASE give this a listen.

Score: 3.5/5

Gucci Mane – “Droptopwop” review

To celebrate a whole year of being a free man, Gucci Mane is delivering his 58th mixtape & he has enlisted Metro Boomin’ to produce it in it’s entirety. The tape’s opening track “5,000,000” sees Gucci bragging about how much he makes in a day & the bass on here is just THUNDEROUS! The next track “Tho” sees Gucci freestyling over some Atari-esque loop with some trap snares & it’s actually not too bad. The next song “Hurt a Nigga Feelings” brags about the shit he has over some sinister synths & hand claps, but he does it so charismatically. Especially during the hook. The song “Helpless” is a sex tune, but I don’t like how the bass sounds so loud that you can barely hear the synths. The track “Met Gala” has some really nice bells throughout, but it feels more like an Offset song given the fact that he dominates the track up until Gucci’s verse pops up during the last minute & a half. The song “Finesse the Plug” talks about how life’s a gamble & the main loop on here sounds really creepy, but the delivery was just meh. The song “Dance with the Devil” has some twinkling high-pitched keys throughout & I actually like how he’s talks about a man getting arrested & a woman trying to act gangsta on here. The song “Both Eyes Closed” has a decent beat & Gucci’s verse isn’t bad at all, but the 2 redundant guest verses from 2 Chainz & Young Dolph flat out ruin it for me. The penultimate track “Bucket List” talking about him getting & doing things he never thought he would over a murky trap beat, but the “she may get this dick like 1%” line at the beginning of the 1st verse was just corny to me. The tape closes out with “Loss 4 Wrdz”, where Gucci & Rick Ross talk about getting fucked up on drugs, but Ross actually goes in harder than Gucci did on here. While some still knock of Gucci Mane, he certainly is more tolerable than all of these mumble rappers nowadays. Plus, he has gotten better since his release from prison (both as an artist & as a person) & this tape is no exception at all. Metro Boomin’s production is just as dark & hard-hitting as ever & given that Gucci has sounded great over Metro’s beats before, for him to finally rap over them for the duration of a full project was bound to happen soon & I’m glad that he finally gave it to the fans to commemorate being a free man for 365 days
Score: 3.5/5