I wasn’t sure whether to be hyped for this album or prepare for something mediocre before this released tbh. I hated the first Savage Mode mainly for 21. I thought 21’s half-hearted attempt to be cold-hearted just sounded really monotone and boring, and Metro’s decent but pretty lowkey production that needed a pretty interesting rapper to rap over it really didn’t complement 21. However, I feel like 21 has matured a lot as a rapper since the first Savage Mode. He’s become more lyrical, a lot less of a one-trick pony, and A LOT more interesting. His latest record, i am > i was, was one of my favorite trap projects of 2018, so I wasn’t sure what I would think of this record going into it. I was predicting something in the Strong 6 territory, However, after finishing it, I can safely say that this thing not only lived up to the hype but also managed to be one of the best hip hop projects of the year.
21 manages to grow in skill by each release, and this album is no exception. He’s still not a supreme lyricist, but he can come through with some funny or actually pretty witty punchlines and some really engaging storytelling. Just like i am > i was, 21’s usual boring verses actually portray that of someone who has been through a lot of shit and is just fed up at this point. Needless to say, he’s actually super compelling here in comparison to the first Savage Mode. Metro’s great production is just as great as it usually is here too. His beats are super hard and 21 doesn’t just do the equivalent of Musical Melatonin over them like he did on Savage Mode, instead, he raps pretty well over these super lowkey yet hard beats.
The record does have some problems though. The track Mr. Right Now really sucks. While I think the instrumental has potential, 21 Savage’s autotuned performance just comes off as really generic and kinda boring here. Then Drake comes in. I thought Drake was gonna come in on his singing shit which would have worked pretty well but instead he raps and it feels kinda out of place. The lyrics of this track consist of 21 telling us he fucks slow despite being a savage and Drake talking about being the Slow Stroke king. Tracks like Runnin and Slidin also have weak hooks meanwhile tracks like No Opp Left Behind and Steppin’ on Men have somewhat mediocre and kinda cheap-sounding beat.
I feel like I’ve been focusing on the bad too much here, though, because the good here is abundant. The Morgan Freeman skits are super badass. The hard trap bangers we’d usually expect from 21 and Metro are here, like Glock in My Lap which is a super intense and hard-hitting trap banger that’s up there with the years best trap bangers. Snitches & Rats is also super had with Young Nudy continuing to show his sadly yet to be tapped into potential and Metro showing off why he’s one of this generations best producers. Rich Nice Young Man Shit (I’m white) was actually a pretty smooth track, one of the few times I feel like 21 using autotune works on this project. The Young Thug feature here is also one of his hardest in recent memory. I love the 50 Cent interpolations of in Many Men. RIP Luv is actually a really great track, probably my favorite on the entire record. 21 sounds like he’s about to break out crying on the track as he sings this story of legitimate heartbreak. The guitar solo at the end is also a super highlight of the record. All in all, 21 Savage and Metro Boomin team up for a collection of some of the year’s hardest hitting and most intense trap bangers, although it isn’t without some duds in the tracklisting sadly, it is about as good as it could possibly be.
Favorite Tracks: Intro, Glock In My Lap, Rich Nice Young Man Shit (feat. Young Thug), Many Men, Snitches & Rats (Interlude), Snitches & Rats (feat. Young Nudy), My Dawg, Brand New Draco, RIP Luv
Worst Track: Mr. Right Now (feat. Drake)