Three years removed from dropping the original, 21 Savage & Metro Boomin’s anticipated sequel "Savage Mode 2" in the works - so, what can we expect?
Over three years have passed since Metro Boomin & 21 Savage fused to spark Savage Mode, a mixtape gem that was heavily circulated four years ago thanks to singles such as "X" & "No Heart." Sand has passed through the hourglass of Savage’s career since he released what might be his edgiest collection of songs; a composition that came to define his signature sound. But with the emcee facing growing popularity and budding mainstream appeal, some of that edge seems to have been shaved off.
21 Savage seemingly hinted at a release date for Savage Mode 2 on Instagram earlier this week: Friday the 13th. How fitting, as the pair combine to create an ominous and menacing soundtrack for the trap’s underworld. Even after the success of Savage Mode, the marriage between Metro and 21 continued to be a magical big bang of cosmic forces - culminating in banger-filled projects like Not All Heroes Wear Capes & Without Warning with Offset. Metro’s dark beats bring out the best of Savage. The musical architect frequently utilizes piano solos on top of strings and other subtle, almost indistinguishable sounds reminiscent of a double cello or bass. The audacity and braggadocios bars of Savage go perfectly over Metro’s spooky foundation. But considering the rapper a different artist now than he was at the tail of the last decade, how might the sequel differ from its predecessor?
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It can't be denied that I Am > I Was found Savage exploring en entirely new style of production. Consider how hit single "A Lot," produced by DJ Dahi & J White Did It, employs the psalms of a chorus sampled from "I Love You" by East of Underground, which itself samples 1970s trio The Fuzz. Moving into Savage Mode 2, it's likely we see an updated perspective and evolved musical direction. A merger of both the classic 21 Savage sounds and his new-found tone. Each has a place in his catalog and if blended appropriately has the potential to be brimstone hot. I expect we get more of the creative and imaginative delivery from the rapper with a bit less character than on his last album, I Am > I Was. The effortless and spectacularly unenthusiastic bars only Savage-level swagger can pull off. The variance of his inflection is mesmerizing. He does a phenomenal job of not letting his voice get too mundane on any song. Not to mention exquisitely placed ad-libs to enhance the listening experience. Peep the penultimate verse from "Mad High" for reference.
Pull up on a back street, roll the window down
Pull up on a back street, another n***a down
That AK47 turn your smile into a frown
Bitch I'm from the street, I turn a seven to a pound
I left my baby mama and I went and got a model
You can't get no guala if you don't know how to swallow
What the bombaclot, I feel like Oscar 'cause I'm a shotta
You say you gettin' money what you using as your product?
I hit my first lick and I spent that shit on Prada
N***a sneak dissin', I got shots for all your partners
Bitch I'm from the six, I eat soul food, not Benihanas
I keep that 223, I knock your head out of your Honda
ASMR stands for autonomous sensory meridian response. 21 even named a song on his last album after the term. His voice invokes a euphoric tingling prefacing a transient state of escape into the music. He does an exceptional job of creating aura and atmosphere by crafting everything from the beat to his delivery to match his chosen vibe. I don’t think he gets the credit he deserves for his actual ability to spit. When that’s his focus on a brief section of a track, he does damage to the notepad. But don’t expect overwhelming lyricism from Savage, as the rapper has said he’s never going to fixate on being the most lyrical. As such, it's unlikely Savage Mode 2 will see vast improvements in that department.
Whether you like it or not, you can plan to expect R&B singing from an increasingly melodic Savage -- how Metro will merge this sound into the overall consistency of the project is something that should be interesting to see. Speaking again on their musical chemistry, Boomin does a great job of dropping the beat almost entirely to allow 21 space to perform these vocal theatrics; an example of this can be heard on "Do Come Outside." We can also expect to hear the theme of growth from the rapper who has had several life experiences since the release of Savage Mode. The artist admitted that the project was an acceptance of where he’s been with an eye toward the future. Despite allusions to a more serious tone, hopefully we can expect more of the foolish belligerency that makes Metro-Savage collabs so entertaining. The first chapter started off with the lyrics “F*ck her in my rollie, f*ck her in my rollie, Imma f*ck her in my rollie.” I mean, that’s the Savage we want to hear.
Since garnering a load of press in 2019, Savage has been fairly quiet thus far in 2020. Will he move forward as a greater emcee than he was before his most widely recognized album? We will all find out soon enough.