XXL Freshman 21 Savage and beat-making machine Metro Boomin finally drop their joint EP Savage Mode. Initially announced in September last year, the project was highly anticipated, as it pitted one of the seemingly brightest up-and-coming trappers with arguably the most popular producer in the genre. Coming off that coveted XXL Freshman placement, all eyes were on 21 as he geared up for this project, and while it isn’t a bad one, the Atlanta rapper is ultimately outshined by his counterpart.
If 21 had a signature sound, it’d be the dark, ominous vibes his version of trap gives off, with lyrics pertaining to his life on the streets. This pairs well with Metro’s gritty style of producing, especially here on this EP, where the latter’s murky beats make 21’s relaxed yet lyrically violent delivery all the more persuasive. Not that we didn’t need any more convincing, as 21’s been delving in the street life since an early age. Songs like “No Heart” and the title track utilize great imagery that takes us straight into the hoods of Atlanta. “P*ssy n*ggas love sneak dissing ’til I pull up on ’em, slap ’em out with the fire/Wet your mama’s house, wet your grandma’s house, keep hottin’ until somebody die/So many shots the neighbor looked at the calendar, thought it was Fourth of July,” he mutters on the former over a dark, hi-hat-heavy beat. When he’s not repping the streets, he’s flossing his newfound wealth. On standout track “X Bitch,” 21 and guest Future go bar-for-bar stunting on their exes. “F*ck a wedding ring, I bought a necklace/Diamonds got the flu, tryin’ not to catch this,” 21 raps over a high bass, multi-layered beat, complete with rings, pianos and knocks.
However, where 21 falters is he often gets overshadowed by the production. He’s a decent enough rapper, but the superiority of the production on this project by Metro (with additional production by Cubeatz and Southside) over 21’s actual rapping skill is easily distinguishable. You could even say that the songs would be better if a more skilled rapper was on the mic.
Savage Mode is not a bad EP by any means, but given the hype the project garnered, along with the hype 21 received, it was a bit of a letdown. Whereas his XXL counterparts have unique qualities about them that stand out, 21 lacks really anything that sets him apart from all the other trappers in the rap game. Taking into account that he just started taking rap seriously a year ago, he still has room to grow, but for now, the project might as well be Metro Boomin ft. 21 Savage.