Despite What You May Believe, 21 Savage's Words Are His Sharpest Weapon
There is talent in being blunt. Honesty defies betrayal and the truth prevents deception. For his debut album, 21 Savage utilized honesty as a prolific art form. Issa Album shows that his nonchalant flow and attitude will stand the test of time. With this album, he silenced the doubters and proved what he knew about himself all along.
After a surging 2016, 21 Savage was rather quiet. There was barely any new releases after Savage Mode, his breakout collaboration album with acclaimed producer, Metro Boomin’. During this time, 21 Savage was appearing to be having the time of his life. His Instagram is full of lavish photographs of his fabulous new lifestyle. He even began a high-profile relationship with Amber Rose. The only solo song that was release for album promotion was a song called “All The Smoke.” Despite it being accompanied with its own nightmarish music video, it did not make the cut for Issa Album. This is actually very fitting since his debut is by far the most nonviolent collection of songs he has ever released.
On Issa Album, he speaks from his heart more than from the horrors his eyes have seen. He gives you a full scope of him as a complete person rather than just a product of his environment. Another side of him is revealed on this album. 21 Savage also reveals his humanistic thoughts on love and death. The album is also shrouded in contradictions. One song he will confess his endearing love to a woman; the next song he will shamelessly disrespect another. People make jokes about how it could be virtually impossible a person like 21 Savage can maintain a healthy love life, but it’s clear that he has an idea of how to love. Even people like Savage can be vulnerable. He is still a human being.
An early album standout is “Bank Account” where Savage speaks on, you guessed it, his many riches. The track impressively featured production by Savage himself. On the other end of the album, the track “Dead People” contradicts the delights of increased income. “Dead People” may be a take on the genius metaphor reinforced by Lil Uzi Vert with money being compared to the deceased. Despite the amount of money he has, it doesn’t fix the hole in his heart or conscious. On “Numb”, he speaks on numbing the pain with the money, making it clear that his finances aren’t just a benefactor for his livelihood. He also uses it to repair his wounds no matter how deep they are.
“They thought I only rapped about murder and pistols” — a lyric from “Nothin’ New”
When it comes to love, Savage illustrates his heart in the best way he can. The fun and surprising song “FaceTime” gives audiences a lighter side of Savage that acknowledging the beauty of relationships even when they are manufactured through lust. With the off-putting autotune, it’s easily the most lighthearted song on the LP and an another example of how he makes vulnerability an integral part of his craft. What makes this song so important is that it sticks out like a diamond on a pile of rocks. With this album and past albums being filled with songs that contain many profanities when regarding women, it’s a change of pace casual hip-hop fans wouldn’t expect from him. The same situation occurs with “Special,” a song where 21 Savage shows his appreciation for his love interest. He lets it be known that his intentions are to be in this one woman’s life for as long as possible, whether it involves a romantic relationship or not.
Being a savage is still an essential part of the project. The intro “Famous” is generally a recap of his come up. It’s a sincere journey through memory lane and he makes it known that there are many people in his past that don’t deserve his gratitude or trust. “Thug Life” is a traditional hood saga that is told the only way he can by airing out his grievances of the street life. The closer is a 7-minute freestyle that features 21 Savage that is very familiar. With that, he wraps up the album with his on-brand savagery.
. This album is an introduction to 21 Savage as a whole. He encapsulates himself flawlessly through honesty and humility. That’s exactly the thing we needed from 21 Savage, the proof that there is many layers underneath a seemingly impenetrable shell.