21 Savage and Metro Boomin return with ‘Savage Mode II’
Patrick Witteman | Friday, October 16, 2020
When 21 Savage and Metro Boomin released “Savage Mode” in 2016, the hip-hop and trap landscape was considerably different. In 2015, Metro Boomin was key to the production of seminal projects like Future’s “DS2” and the Future/Drake collaboration tape, “What a Time to be Alive.” Although Metro had already entered into the mainstream, 21 was at the very beginning of his meteoric rise. He had released projects like “The Slaughter Tape” and “Slaughter King,” both of which contributed to his popularity on SoundCloud at the time. In June of 2016, he was named to the XXL Freshman Class, and in July of that year, he released “Savage Mode” with Metro. “Savage Mode” propelled 21 to superstardom; he followed that project up with the multi-platinum albums “Issa Album” and “i am > i was.”
It never really felt like 21 had fully arrived, though. Since the 2018 release of “i am > i was,” other trap artists like Gunna and Lil Baby have grown in popularity, pushing trap away from Metro and 21’s 2016 sound. With “Savage Mode II,” 21 Savage and Metro Boomin make a triumphant return, once again placing themselves at the forefront of hip-hop consciousness. “Savage Mode II” sounds like a victory lap with both artists performing at the highest level.
In terms of production, Metro’s beats are head and shoulders above other 2020 hip hop albums. 21 Savage is the beneficiary of Metro’s brilliance; he has the space he needs to craft varied and interesting flows. On “Runnin,” 21 is at his most aggressive while setting the tone for the rest of the album. Metro provides a venomous, cold beat that hinges on an incredible Diana Ross sample. 21 invokes the original “Savage Mode,” rapping: “Called the first one Savage Mode, my mood, that’s what it was.” It is clear that 21 and Metro aren’t taking any prisoners, as they immediately come out of the gates sharp and focused.
I wouldn’t be doing this album justice if I ignored “Snitches & Rats” and its interlude. Although 21 has clarified that this song wasn’t meant to take direct aim at 6ix9ine, it certainly reads like some type of diss track. The song is introduced, like many are on this album, with a Morgan Freeman interlude. The interlude, written by spoken word artist Big Rube, clarifies the difference between a “regular citizen who reports seeing a crime,” a snitch and a rat. It is clear that 21 Savage reviles rats like 6ix9ine, as Morgan Freeman ends his interlude by saying: “The difference is, at least a snitch is human, but a rat is a f—-n’ rat, period.”
On “Intro,” Morgan Freeman opines about Metro Boomin and 21’s collective power. “When [great men with ideals] join forces [with] the focus of reaching the same goals … they are not two, but one. Instead of simply adding one’s common attributes to another’s, they somehow tend to multiply all attributes of both.”
From top to bottom, Metro and 21 certainly multiply their attributes, making “Savage Mode II” one of the standout releases of the year. The album has extraordinarily high playback value, and I would definitely recommend giving it a listen!
Artist: 21 Savage & Metro Boomin
Album: “Savage Mode II”
Label: Epic Records/Slaughter Boomin
Favorite tracks: “Runnin,” “Snitches & Rats,” “Brand New Draco,” “Many Men”
If you like: Migos, Playboi Carti, Lil Uzi Vert, Lil Yachty
Shamrocks: 4 out of 5