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21 Savage | I am > I was | Album Review

Slaughter Gang, LLC/Epic Records
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Ever since his studio debut, Issa Album, Atlanta rapper 21 Savage has been fairly quiet. For the past year, Savage has been cast as a feature, mostly collaborating with other artists, such as Drake and Metro Boomin. However, in December of 2018, Savage released his sophomore studio album titled I am > I was.

The 15-track album features many prolific artists from Post Malone to Childish Gambino, Travis Scott, and J. Cole. The list continues, bringing in a significant amount of diversity in rap pacing and tempo. Given that there are many artists collaborating, Savage’s presence is never lost throughout the entirety of the album. Songs “Ball w/o You,” “Gun Smoke,” and “Out for the Night” showcase his lyrical potential, providing a dynamic atmosphere in which he performs alone.

Labeled as a grim, heavy-trap artist due to his previous work, Savage has transitioned into an arrangement of R&B grooves and melodies. The opening track, “A lot,” featuring J. Cole, captures light and steady percussion with symphonic female background vocals. Two tracks later in the song, “a&t,” Savage teams up with City GirlsYung Miami, reminiscing the trap and party-like atmosphere produced in his first album.

In other tracks, the tempo and melody are slowed. The tracks “All My Friends,” featuring Post Malone, and “Monsters,” featuring Childish Gambino, encapsulate a moody yet sensational tone. The inclusion of such slow, radiant songs impacts the album in a good way, bringing in a balance of everyday emotions.

I am > I was demonstrates Savage’s growth in his musical talent. Not only does the album speculate Savage’s growth as an artist but also treats the public to a new perspective on his work. The transition from trap to different arrangements of R&B expanded the range of creativity, using it to create a well-balanced ratio of fast and slow melodies.

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