Success has come quickly for 21 Savage. Almost the literal definition of the “overnight success”, his rise has been nothing short of meteoric, since his name hit the streets just a few short years ago. Having won MTV’s “Song of the Year” award this past August for “Rockstar” with Post Malone, 21 Savage is basking in a level of professional achievement that few ever will. Though his lack of experience does show in his work, 21 Savage has a uniquely awesome voice to offer, and it obviously sells plenty of records. His work with Metroboomin was great. His collaborations with artists like Drake were real hot work. His debut album, “ISSA Album”, was a real bomb detonation in the Hip Hop game. But Andre 3 Stacks once said, “Baby boy, you only funky as your last cut”. We’re going to check out 21 Savage’s latest work to see what’s up. I’m here to examine the album, “I am > I was”, by 21 Savage. This is a No Cap! Album Review. Let’s Go!
Without question, the hottest 3 songs on this album are…
“All My Friends” – 21 Savage & Post Malone
“1.5” – 21 Savage & The Offset
“Monster” – 21 Savage & Childish Gambino
When you listen to “All My Friends” with Post Malone you immediately notice a mood – a mood and melody that quickly puts the listener in a pleasurable zone. It holds your attention with impressive drum work, a high-hat track that gets hotter as the song develops, and super fresh harmony from Post Malone near the song’s end. At his exit from the first verse, 21 Savage says, “I don’t need no friends, what’s a friend if it ain’t no trust?” Among the usual trappings of the strip club and excessive ice flexing, this line sums up what you feel when you listen to the song, “All My Friends”. In addition, and as a real gift to the album, Post Malone puts in one the best performances of his recording career. “All My Friends” is the best song on the album, no doubt.
If you’re looking for a hot club joint, you’re in the right place because the song “1.5” stabs right at it. This one has the trap sound and bounce that a 21 Savage fan is looking for. Featuring The Offset, this jam goes hard. 21 Savage’s flow runs perfect with this kind of beat, it has great energy that’s poppin’ and the song just sounds good. The hook pushes “1.5 on the ride”. Check this one out – it’s a good look.
“Monster” is the most musically impressive piece of work the album has to offer. It features Childish Gambino, and his influence can be heard all over the song. The chorus says “Power. The money and the fame make a monster, A monster”. Childish Gambino delivers an awesome performance that any music lover will appreciate, as the song offers an intelligent and eclectic musical experience for the listener.
There are a few other tracks on the record that should get a look. “A Lot” featuring J. Cole hits nice with a few spins. 21 Savage is doing his usual, very cadence driven, rock on the hook about how many guys he’s shot, but then J. Cole speaks for a hot verse. He’s spitting lyrics like…
“Question,how many faking they streams? (A lot) getting they plays from machines (A lot) I can see behind the smoke and mirrors Niggas ain’t really big as they seem (Hmm)”
Now that’s hip hop, that’s lyrics…rappers need to get back on they’re job. When it comes to the features on the album I am > I was, J. Cole and Childish Gambino brings the fire – make sure you check for their jams. “4L” is real gangsta, and it hits the listener pretty hot. 21 Savage rips…
“Niggas drop a mixtape, then they tatoo they face (lil pussy) Niggas drop an album, them pretend to be gangsta (lil bitch) Imagine every hood, you gon’ make it up, ain’t you?”
This record is gangsta hot, and 21 Savage fans will definitely appreciate it. The song “A&T” featuring Yung Miami from the City Girls is strip club material, but the song seems to lack something. If it had a hot bass line, the track could pop so much better. 21 Savage fans may like the tracks “ASMR” and “Can’t Leave Without It” featuring Lil Baby & Gunna.
An unusual thing about the album “I am > I was” is there are no guest appearances listed, even though, there are features on 90% of the record. I could say, “How many features you got? (A Lot)”.
What I want the fans to know about 21 Savage is that he’s growing. He has far less experience rocking a microphone than he needs to handle the amount of success he has attained, and that puts him in a precarious position. But don’t cry for him because he’s on the winning side of it all – the check cashing side.
What I want for 21 Savage is for him to get as good as all the guest stars he features on his records, but as it stands today – he is not, No Cap! They’re murdering him all up and down this record, No Cap! 21 Savage can push a hot 16, but a whole album is still a struggle. Be humble and thank Childish Gambino, thank J. Cole, and your get money homie, Post Malone – these artists have come through for you, believe it.
Though this record does offer a couple hot songs, the overall experience will leave the listener struggling to find something that, simply, sounds good. There is too much emphasis on the Trap Music sound and formula, and too little attention paid to hot concepts, lyrics, and well worked compositions or beats, to sustain real music fans.
This review is just a blueprint – every fan must find his own way. The song “All My Friends” is the only real hit I see here. Overall this release is a disappointment. I give the album, “I was > I am”, 2 out of 5 Daggers. This is a No Cap! Album Review. We’re waiting for his next project.