Music Opinion

Review: 21 Savage, “Issa Album”

Is 21 Savage's "Issa Album" a hit or issa miss?

Slaughter gang shit, murder gang shit, 21 Savage is back yet again with another “issa hit”. A part of XXL’s 2016 Freshman class, 21 Savage has created a dark and grungy image of himself for his creative direction and simple yet vulgar and violent lyrics. His hits “No Heart” and ‘“X” have put him on the scene for having sick beats produced by Metro Boomin’ which will have everyone at the functions bopping their heads to those hard hits and simple lyrics.


Being introduced into the rap game along with other acts like Kodak Black, Playboi Carti, Lil Uzi, and Lil Yachty, 21 has received non-stop criticism for his music. People have argued that he has no real talent and his beats are the only component that has kept him alive in the rap game. I won’t say I agree with those allegations but I won’t say I disagree either. Being from the South, there is a distinct sound for artists’ just as there is for other regions. I grew up listening to Playa Fly, 5th Ward, and 8 Ball & MJG and those artists, just as 21 Savage, are quite vulgar and dark in their lyrics as well. However, rappers like Playa Fly go more in-depth with their lyrics and express it in a way that generates this scene of respect that is demanded.

This new sound of down south rap is definitely one that will take some getting used to especially from rappers like Lil Yachty who lacks substance. An artist expressing their art is great and many people may not support it, hence, 21’s tweet about not caring if people fuck with it or not, he just wants people to hear his story.

Issa Album starts off with distinct piano keys which make you believe the album will have a lighter vibe which Zaytoven and Metro Boomin achieve with a few additions of those hard hits that made 21 “Famous”. This track tells 21’s story about how he went from “rags to riches” and how he has remained the same person he was before the fame and money. 21 is proud to be a “street nigga” that is now making more money than he ever imagined but he doesn’t appreciate the rappers who “rap bout shit they ain’t even lived”. Everyone is aware of the love connection between 21 and Amber Rose which has allowed fans to see a “softer” side of 21. In “FaceTime”, the rapper veers away from the trap beats and sings rather than rap over an R&B/Hip-Hop fused song. It seems as though 21 tried to do what Future did on HNDRXX but failed; there are some rappers who can get away with sing-rapping but 21 is not one of them.


The rappers’ “Special” made up for the let down of  “FaceTime”.

I’ve never known 21 to address what’s going on in the black community but, he states that what’s occurring specifically in regard to black men is “Nothin New”. He addresses the stereotypes of black men not being raised by their father’s so they’re prone to rebel and end up on the streets. Although he raps in a monotone throughout the track, you can visual his frustrations towards police brutality when he mentions “treat us like slaves then they lock us up in cages”. It seems as though 21 has seen occurrences like this his whole life and has fallen accustom to it.

“Issa Album” seems to be thrown together and some of these songs shouldn’t be added. He should have transitioned into a mixtape rather than an album because this does not compete with “Savage Mode” at all. I understand he wants to tell his story but it seems that 21 is continuing to rap about the same things, fucking bitches, getting money, and wearing designer jeans and jewelry. This sort of rapping won’t last forever. 21 has to get back in the studio and make something that will last as “X” and “No Heart” have.

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