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21 Savage and Metro Boomin continue to mesh perfectly on ‘Savage Mode II’

21 Savage and Metro Boomin continue to mesh perfectly on ‘Savage Mode 2′: 21 Savage and Metro Boomin are back in action.

It was just in 2016 that 21 Savage had first begun to establish himself in hip-hop with hot songs like “Red Opps” and his mixtape, The Slaughter Tape. He was also named an XXL Freshman and would use this momentum to collaborate on a new mixtape with one of the hottest producers at the time: Metro Boomin.

The favored producer rose to fame with his trademark producer tag, “If young Metro don’t trust you I’m gon’ shoot you” (sung by rapper Future), and his ferocious beat drops, like in Kanye West’s “Father Stretch My Hands, Pt. 1” or Drake’s “Jumpman.” 

Metro and 21’s 2016 mixtape Savage Mode only pushed these two further out into rap’s mainstream, with the project showcasing their instant musical chemistry. The producer’s ominous, spacey beats, combined with the rapper’s mellow, yet menacing flows created instant hits, like “No Heart” and “X,” that forever linked the duo.

On Halloween 2017, they released Without Warning, a mixtape featuring Offset of the Migos, that continued the same thematic element of laid-back rhymes with dangerous messages, rapping directly to whoever opposed the trio. 21 and Metro rose even further into hip-hop infamy again, with hits like “Ghostface Killers,” “Rap Saved Me,” and “Mad Stalkers.”

Since Savage Mode, the duo has linked up for a few other singles, including “Bank Account” on 21 Savage’s Issa (2017) album and both “10 Freaky Girls” and “Don’t Come Out the House” from Metro Boomin’s NOT ALL HEROES WEAR CAPES (2018) album. The pair has teased the release of Savage Mode 2 to enthusiastic fans since February, and on Sept. 28, they finally released the project’s trailer — narrated by none other than Morgan Freeman. On Oct. 2, the duo went savage mode for the second time, releasing the long-awaited Savage Mode 2 on all streaming platforms.

The collaboration is a 15-song, 44-minute album that validates the intensity of months-long anticipation fans had for its release. Featuring Freeman throughout the outros and interludes, the project delivers the consistent “black air force” energy that Metro and 21 have always strived for.

The deep-voiced legend ushers in the album by saying, “Whether from St. Louis or East Atlanta / Whether from a savage land or a booming metropolis / Whether they are two or two billion, the greatest their numbers could ever become, is to truly become one / I now present to you SAVAGE MODE 2.” It’s a perfectly to-the-point, intense intro for the album. 

The next two tracks — “Runnin” and “Glock in My Lap” — set the project’s tone with menacing beats and a hard 21 Savage calling the listener a “p–ssy” more than enough times to convince them that they shouldn’t dare mess with 21. He spits quite possibly the most on brand 21 Savage verse of his career on “Glock in My Lap:”  “Body full of scars, face full of tats / You pray on your knees, I pray to my strap.” 

After these two frightening tracks, things lighten up with consecutive features from Drake on “Mr. Right Now” and Young Thug on “Rich N—- Shit.” “Mr. Right Now” sees 21 employ an impressive, sensual, two-part chorus to offer a melodic break from the aggression of the album’s opening. Drake could have probably done without the bar about him dating SZA over 10 years ago, but the line hilariously led to the songstress unfollowing him on Instagram. SZA later cleared the air on Twitter to explain there are no hard feelings between her and Drizzy.

On “Rich N—- Shit,” 21 and Thug bring a lavish, braggadocious swagger to their bars with a laid back groove brought by Metro Boomin. Young Thug spitting, “When I eat, I got a Goyard handkerchief” can only evoke a sense of grandiose envy out of any listener, effectively executing the goal of the track.

Throughout the album, 21 Savage makes it perfectly clear: He does not f-ck with rats.

In “Glock in My Lap,” he spits the bar “Chuck E. Cheese, rat, we get rodents whacked / Way too many steppers, I can’t hold ’em back,” and he dedicates an entire interlude and following song to diss “Snitches and Rats.” During the interlude, Freeman educates the listener on the difference between a snitch and a rat, iconically stating:

“A ‘snitch’ is someone minding other folks’ business, to find information they can sell for a price or trade for some other form of compensation. A ‘rat’ is a traitor, a conceiver, planner or physical participator. He doesn’t sell secrets for power or cash, he betrays the trust of his team or his family hoping to save his own cowardly ass. The difference is, at least a snitch is human, but a rat is a f-ckin’ rat, period.” 

Morgan Freeman on “Savage Mode 2” — Snitches & Rats

After this fervent decree, the song “Snitches and Rats” sees 21 Savage and fellow Atlanta native and member of gang 4L Young Nudy, channel their shared displeasure with rats into a banger that features bars like: “You talk on the internet, we talk in the street / Kel-Tec .223, like D-Wade, I love my heat” and “Hope you n—-s retaliate, don’t tell them peoples or your mama / N—-s like to dry snitch when shit get real, wanna go tell they mama.”

Following “Snitches and Rats,” the last six songs of the record are a mixed bag of quality. There are focused tracks like the emo, heartbreak song “RIP Luv,” as well as an uncharacteristic of 21, but impressively long-winded chorus on “Said N Done” whose jingles on the beat are reminiscent of Metro and 21’s “10 Freaky Girls.” But half-hearted, uninspired tracks like “My Dawg” and “Brand New Draco” lack discernible flows or hooks and leave listeners craving the infectious, dangerous energy felt on the rest of the project. 

A record full of evil laughs, knife slashing sounds, and 21 Savage repeatedly calling the listener a “p–ssy” (he did so 83 times), combined with simplistic and repetitive, yet infectious hooks like those on “Steppin on N—-s,” “Snitches and Rats,” “Slidin,” and “Runnin” — Savage Mode 2 could not have defined purple devil emoji energy any better.

21 Savage continues to solidify his relevance in the hip-hop industry by once again fulfilling his uniquely intimidating and irresistible aesthetic that goes unmatched in the mainstream. Meanwhile, Metro Boomin continues to remain the most essential part of any song he participates in, with his creative sprinkling of sound effects and incredible adaptability allowing his production to complement whichever artist is rapping over it.

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