Savage Mode II Review


Atlanta rapper 21 Savage’s last two years have been rather chaotic. In December of 2018, he released I Am > I Was, his most critically acclaimed album to date. In early 2019, he was arrested by the United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). ICE revealed that 21 Savage was a citizen of the United Kingdom, and that he entered the United States in 2005 and illegally overstayed his visa. He was released shortly after his arrest, and his hearing has been indefinitely postponed. Just under a year afterward, 21 Savage won the award for Best Rap Song for his song “A Lot” at the 2020 Grammy Awards. Producer Metro Boomin, on the other hand, has been slightly more quiet than 21 Savage as of recent. In April of 2018, Metro Boomin announced his retirement via his Instagram, only to release Not All Heroes Wear Capes in November of the same year. Nearly two years later, in October of 2020, Metro Boomin and 21 Savage announced the release of Savage Mode II, the highly anticipated sequel to the duo’s project Savage Mode, which was released in 2016.

On Savage Mode II, 21 Savage displays a new level of flexibility that he has not shown before. He raps over a variety of beats that are unlike any he has previously appeared on, and he strays away from his signature unenergetic delivery. On previous projects, 21 Savage maintained a hardened and nearly violent style, but on I Am > I Was, he produced more introspective tracks. 21 Savage continues this artistic development on Savage Mode II. This is particularly evident on “Mr. Right Now,” featuring Drake, where 21 Savage shows a softer side while rapping over an R&B-inspired beat. In addition to the R&B-like instrumental, 21 Savage references prominent R&B artists TLC and Keith Sweat on “Mr. Right Now.” On “Said N Done,” the final track on the album, 21 Savage once again reveals a more vulnerable side over another R&B inspired instrumental.  

Metro Boomin’s production is another major highlight of Savage Mode II. He utilizes a variety of styles throughout the album, which allows 21 Savage to display his own versatility. On tracks such as “Mr. Right Now” and “Said N Done” (which includes a sample from Stephanie Mills’s 1987 track “Touch Me Now”), Metro is able to create R&B-inspired instrumentals on which 21 Savage shows a more sensitive and thoughtful side of himself. There is also clear Southern hip-hop influence in Metro Boomin’s production (and on the cover of the album, which was designed by Pen & Pixel), which is made particularly clear through the use of Memphis-like 808 cowbells. Additionally, there are a number of great trap beats on Savage Mode II, including “Glock in my Lap,” which features production from Honorable CNOTE, where 21 Savage raps over a dramatic and captivating instrumental that is highlighted by eerie strings.  

A significant flaw of Savage Mode was its generic style. Although there is not much to be said regarding the negative aspects of Savage Mode II, there are several tracks that are reminiscent of Savage Mode’s generic sound. These tracks include “Slidin,” which has a somewhat uninteresting instrumental with relatively generic bars from 21 Savage. The same can be said for the lyrics of “Brand New Draco,” although the instrumental on this track is still good. 

With Savage Mode II, 21 Savage and Metro Boomin deliver an excellent sequel to Savage Mode. 21 Savage continues to develop as an artist by displaying his increased versatility, and Metro Boomin provides the instrumentals that allow 21 Savage to do so. Savage Mode II is the third collaborative project involving 21 Savage and Metro Boomin, and it is undoubtedly their best.

Rating: 8/10