21 Savage evolves sound

Sophomore release shows growth

Fair use from Epic Records

Fair use from Epic Records

Amaia Barajas

21 Savage’s sophomore album “i am>i was” proves that musicians can stay true to their roots while maturing in their sound. Since releasing his collaborative EP “Savage Mode” with Metro Boomin’ in 2016, 21 Savage has proved his talent in the rap game.

With the opening reflective song “a lot” and bass-heavy songs like “break da law,” 21 Savage makes his album a more mature version of what he’s known for. The great beats and lyrics about life on the streets are typical of his music, but I feel as though this album is going to take 21 Savage into a more respected pillar in the rap community.

The album opens up with the song “a lot,” which is a collaboration with J.Cole. The song starts off with Chance the Rapper vibes with a trap beat and choral backup vocals in the background. This song is my favorite on the album because of its R&B influence through the beat mixed with the classic rap kick drum. What’s really interesting is how the song changes the more times you listen. At first it sounds like very surface lyrics — just rapping about fast cars and money — but after a few listens lyrics of loss and reflection begin to surface. From reflecting on his brother’s death and jail sentences, 21 Savage was able to make a meaningful rap song that is still a bop. All I can say about “a lot” is that the song is the opening for a reason — it sets the stage for 21 Savage’s more mature sound and his desire to branch out with his music.

The next stand out song was “break da law,” which sounded like an Atlanta trap sound, with a booming bass and synth with a great kick drum in the back. This song didn’t seem as meaningful or reflective for me as “a lot” did, but still held the characteristics of a classic trap song, reminiscent of 21 Savage’s past works.

On this album, 21 Savage collaborates with rappers like Post Malone, J.Cole and Lil Baby, but does not credit them on any of the songs. However, the features make a nice surprise on the album. The songs with features that stood out the most were “all my friends” with Post Malone and “can’t leave without it” with Lil Baby. Both tracks offer great vibes. The track, “all my friends,” definitely reminds me of “Rockstar,” another collaboration with 21 Savage and Post Malone, and I love it. It has that feel good vibe that “Rockstar” has and I highly recommend this song. The song “can’t leave without it” had one of the strongest beats throughout the entire album. Mostly because it has piano mixed in with the trap beats and I’m a sucker for any rap/trap songs that have piano — I immediately like it ten times more.

Overall, “i am<i was” was a win in my book. I genuinely liked every song and didn’t have anything bad to say about any song in particular. The overwhelming amount of hype songs throughout the album are not a daily mood, so I wouldn’t listen to this album that often. However, when I’m in a good mood, I will definitely be turning to “i am>i was” to feed that mood.


“I am>i was:” ★★★★☆