Following up their extended play from 2016, Atlanta rappers 21 Savage and Metro have finally returned with a full-length successor. The art of following up a successful original is one of the hardest challenges an artist can face, especially when the original has been hailed by some as an essential cornerstone in the shaping of the trap genre.
21 Savage and Metro are far from shy when it comes to marking their territory: with Savage Mode II, they want to make an early impression. Hiring Morgan Freeman as a presenter and naming the seventh track ”Many Men” after a song on 50 Cent’s highly acclaimed Get Rich Or Die Tryin’ is certainly a bold move. Sadly, the material on Savage Mode II is simply not entertaining enough to live up to the expectations.
21 Savage fans will certainly find some favourites here to add to their trap playlists — ”Mr. Right Now” featuring Drake is the most streamed track, but ”Runnin’” is probably the most memorable song of the record with its panting refrain. — However, 21 Savage’s rapping often feels a bit too much, relying on Metro’s laid-back beats, which can result in a few unpassionate and relatively boring moments, such as ”Rich Ni**a Shit” or the closing ”Said N Done” — two of the least-streamed songs on the album. Also, I found the sheer sound quality of some of the songs to be pretty poor.
But what irritates me most about the album is not how it sounds. The album generally has a nice flow and Metro’s production lives up to my expectations. My main criticism is the uneven quality of the lyrics. In one song, 21 Savage can provide great lyrics about his dark, violent background (most notably in the touching ”My Dawg”), only to demolish and stupify the masterful 50 Cent beat in the next track in which they rap about naughty stuff you can do with hot models in the bedroom by naming the female genitalia 58 times during the length of the record. If 21 Savage deserves credit for his portrayals of violence like that was the only thing he ever knew, he also deserves criticism for his stereotypical treatment of women in his songs. If his pretty girl wants him to fuck her to Beyoncé, (“she wants me to fucker her to Beyoncé/but I don’t treat her like she is my finacé”), as he proclaims in ”Mr. Right Now,” the rapper doesn’t seem to reflect very much on if she actually wants that.
Apart from a couple of lyrical flaws and some not-so-passionate rapping, this is a decent trap album that will probably gain the same amount of popularity as most of 21 Savage’s previous work. But the fact that Morgan Freeman does the best job of keeping this album together with his confident narrative through Savage’s stories about snitches, bitches, and guns, as well as the lack of obvious stand-out tunes makes this record a rather bland experience. Savage Land II doesn’t feel like a creative step forward, but rather like someone trying to meet but not exceed expectations.