Up-and-coming southern rapper 21 Savage has his moments on his debut Issa Album, but also has plenty of room for improvement.
Rappers have changed over the years. The new breed of rapper tends to be starkly different from the old. In the last couple of years, there have been triumphant newcomers, as well as questionable ones. In the case of 21 Savage, he has his pros and his cons. 21 Savage is known for his deadpan delivery, which is sometimes distinct and at other times, merely deadpan. Issa Album serves as the 22-year old’s debut album. It has its moments, but it also has misses too.
No 1: “Bank Account”
“Bank Account” is by far the crowning achievement of Issa Album. Featuring simple production built around a guitar line, spare some synths, and an anchoring groove, it’s magical. Furthermore, the subtlety of 21’s delivery is perfectly suited. Even though the sound is kinder and gentler, there’s still fire. The repetitive hook is infectious, even if references to shooters shouldn’t have that effect.
No. 2: “Close My Eyes”
“Close My Eyes” opens with 21 Savage mumbling at his lowest energy level yet. He shows a bit more zest beginning with the verse, but there’s still a lack of overtness and assertiveness. Nonetheless, some of the rhymes still affect, evidenced by the chorus.
“I don’t wanna go to sleep, I’m way too high, dog / I can’t get no sleep, I swear I’m way too high, dog / I see dead bodies when I close my eyes dog…”
No. 3: “Thug Life”
On “Thug Life,” he “feel(s) like 2Pac, Thug Life.” Imagine that. Regardless, “Thug Life” is one of the better moments from the rapper. With his own checkered past, the autobiographical portions bode well in his favor. Furthermore, the production, fueled by an En Vogue sample, only heightens the success.
No. 4: “Nothin New”
“Nothin New” is an improvement, once more relying on life experience to fuel his rhymes. While this isn’t valedictory per se, it’s more in his wheelhouse than the ridiculous, sexually-driven joints.
No. 5: “Numb”
“Numb” extends upon the success of “Nothin New.” Despite the pain he’s experienced throughout his life, 21 Savage chooses to “Numb the pain with the money.” It shines because it’s dark and there’s the sense that he showcases a bit more edge compared to some other tracks.
Ultimately, Issa Album fall short. To reiterate, 21 Savage does have his moments, namely “Bank Account.” Still, it seems like he runs out of interesting things to rap about as opposed to recycling. Making things worse is the delivery, which is sometimes a pro, but not always, particularly when 21 lacks notable bars. There’s potential, but 21 Savage has work to do.
Gems: “Bank Account,” “Close My Eyes,” “Thug Life,” “Nothin New” & “Numb”