Hip Hop

21 Savage – i am > i was (Album Review)

21 Savage returns in the biggest of ways with “i am > i was.”


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TOP 5

 

 

5. all my friends

In “all my friends,” 21 Savage was able to reunite with Post Malone for this powerful track that features some passionate vocals and introspective lyrics about fake relationships by both artists. Much like “rockstar,” the two artists’ contrasting styles makes for quite the listen, especially when you consider the different types of rebelliousness they show on their respective contributions.

I’m not going to lie, I f**k with 21 Savage’s music a lot, but this year, I’ve enjoyed the s**t Post Malone has dropped even more!

 

 

4. 1.5

Offset and 21 Savage built up quite the rapport these last couple of months, which is why I think “1.5” is one of the better songs on this album.

You’ve heard of ‘mumble rap’ before, right? What about ‘hop scotch rap?’ In all seriousness, that’s the type of music you get on this song, as Offset and 21 Savage spit about everything from drippin’ hard to challenging ops using a bunch of fun-loving flows. Personally, I enjoy how both rappers ride the erratic beat they were served with, never slipping up a single minute.

I was hoping for something more ghoulish on this song, but I am definitely okay with what I heard still.

 

 

3. a&t

“a&t” stands for ‘ass and titties,’ which should warn you that the song is ratchet as hell before you even press play on it. Well, if your finger happened to slip on the button, lucky you, because what you will hear is straight fire! First and foremost, the track is powered by this instrumental that caters to one of those southern strip clubs that serve fried chicken and boasts high ATM fees. Over this instrumental, 21 Savage and City Girls go back and forth about indulging in booty, reckless spending and lots of finessing using this unapologetic rap approach. While the lyrics you get by both acts are blahzay-blahzay at best (especially City Girls), I do f**k with the vintage/old school Three Six Mafia feels the song gives off as a whole.

The clubs are going to love this joint!

 

 

2. monster

“monster” is special! The song gives off this youthful feel, featuring this colorful beat and a hook that is primarily ruled by a bunch of adolescents. Once the beat drops on it, Childish Gambino gets a chance to do his thing, spitting like the old him throughout. While his lyrics were phenomenal, it’s his untethered rap confidence that caught my attention the most. Remember, these last couple of years he has been an R&B singer.

21 Savage has the second verse on this song, and in my opinion, I thought he was able to keep up with Childish on it. Not only does he display this level of swag that is comparable to the ATL star, but he drops some serious knowledge, too, explaining to the world how he’s emerged out of the dirt through determination and staying true to himself. I’m sure ya’ll are going to forget he’s on this song after you hear Gambino, but I’m begging you, also pay attention to 21’s part!

 

 

1. a lot

Never did I imagine that 21 Savage will fit in nicely on a soulful instrumental like the one you hear in “a lot.”

“a lot” is phenomenal! On it, 21 Savage gets a chance to remind listeners about the good, bad and ugly that comes with walking in his shoes. I love how clear and concise he delivers his lyrics from start to finish, especially considering the fact that he holds nothing back when it comes to topics such as scandalous women, foes and personal growth.

Towards the end of this song, you get a long ass verse by J. Cole that is damn-there legendary! After initially giving 21 Savage his props, he spits nothing but serious bars, taking aim at his competition, praying for Tekashi 6ix9ine, and reminding the world how dope of a rapper he is. For the most part, his delivery comes across as effortless, even though the way he pieces his words together is masterful.

Who would’ve thunk 21 Savage and J. Cole would have some pretty good chemistry?


SONG BY SONG BREAKDOWN

1. a lot (5/5)

2. break da law (4.5/5)

3. a&t (4.5/5)

4. out for the night (3.5/5)

5. gun smoke (3.5/5)

6. 1.5 (4/5)

7. all my friends (4.5/5)

8. can’t leave without it (4/5)

9. asmi (4/5)

10. ball w/o you (3.5/5)

11. good day (4/5)

12. pad lock (3.5/5)

13. monster (5/5)

14. letter 2 my momma (4/5)

15. 4L (4/5)


OVERALL RATING

(B-)

 

For those of you that thought 21 Savage was this one-dimensional rapper that could only strive over wicked trap instrumentals, think again! On “i am > i was,” he shines bright over a myriad of beats (soulful, strip club and trap), never flinching whenever he has to step outside of his comfort zone. I felt like he struggled with this in his previous album, but has made strides this time around.

You know what I loved about this album? 21 Savage’s rapping on it. I can remember when dude was a below-average spitter that struggled mightily whenever he needed to spit seriously; now his punchlines are top notch, the way he starts and finishes his bars are fantastic, and his subject-matters are intriguing enough to catch your attention. Never in a million years did I think 21 would be able to go toe-to-toe with J. Cole or Childish Gambino on a song, let alone hold his own each time…

I thought the features on this album were excellent! On “a lot,” Cole put up one of his best verses this year, on “monster,” Childish Gambino warped back into his kill-a-rapper mode, and on “all my friends,” Post Malone blessed 21 with a hook so good that I can guarantee the song will end up on the billboard charts because of it. In my opinion, everyone else did their thing, too (ScHoolboy Q, City Girls, Offset), but I think the ones I happened to mention turned s**t upside down on their respective contributions. That’s a whole nother beast!

I thought “i am > i was” was more interesting than enjoyable; unexpected than expected; experimental than repetitive; lyrical than mumbly. Even though it sounds dramatically different than “Savage Mode,” 21’s break-through project, the album does represent a level of growth in his artistry that fans of his simply cannot hate on.

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4 replies »

  1. So what happened to the song called ‘Immortal’ that 21 Savage made for the Mortal Kombat 11 reveal trailer? I thought he said it would be on the new album but sadly doesn’t seem to be.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. 21 does the same thing 21 does on this album. He doesn’t expand but he doesn’t get worse either. I would like to hear him whisper rap more though. My album review on YouTube is way more in depth than this but that’s a quick summary of this album.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I definitely respect your opinion. 21 Savage rapping on the same songs as Childish Gambino and J. Cole is not him doing the same thing he’s done in the past. He put himself in unique situations this time around.

      BTW, I definitely have to check your review out. Hopefully you can provide us with a link 👌🏾

      Like

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