21 Savage’s presence in the rap battle royal after debut extended play Savage Mode became a dreary, dark figure shrouded in mysterious production and grimy lyricism. Through the swanky production of Metro Boomin and Southside, Savage Mode became a renowned debut for the Atlanta born rapper. Although many claimed that Savage’s album was rather stoic and inert in the sense that the style remained the same throughout the entire album with very little variation.
21 Savage’s answer to this? Issa Album.
A reference to the famous interview where 21 Savage infers to the tattoo on his forehead, Issa Album contains a myriad of colourful and more bouncy beats that prove Savage’s versatility to those who doubted him. Although, the lyrical content has remained the same, the total re-haul of style came as a divisive surprise to rap fans.
The album’s appeal comes mainly from its catchiness. Songs like “Bank Account” and “FaceTime” are arguably the two most catchy songs on Issa Album, both however lack in the lyrical department compared to songs like “Dead People”. Unfortunately, the deadpan muttering of 21 Savage can eventually become tiresome.
All credit to 21 Savage, he did switch up his style quite a bit. But yet again, he didn’t do anything different on the album itself, choosing to keep the same flow and delivery throughout the entire duration of the album. In reality, the only song that doesn’t sound like every other song is “FaceTime”. 21 Savage’s shortcomings are heavily protected and hidden by the clean production, which is the saving grace of Issa Album. 21 Savage had a real knack for storytelling on Savage Mode but since his aura has been compromised, his storytelling doesn’t make sense anymore because it has become lyrics about murder over regular, bouncy trap beats.
Not that it was expected for 21 Savage to drop a critically acclaimed album, despite how well-received Savage Mode was, some general cohesion and that further step towards experimenting would have gone a long way for Issa Album. However, the production really tips this album slightly in favour of likeability.
Review Score: 5.7 out of 10.
Issa Album is out now.