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January 21, 2019

Album Review: 21 Savage's "i am > i was"

21 Savage's "i am > i was" album cover art
21 Savage's "i am > i was" album cover art

Title: i am > i was

Artiste: 21 Savage

Genre: Hip hop/Rap

Release: December 21



The last time Shayaa Bin Abraham-Joseph (better known by his stage name 21 Savage) released a solo project was in June 2017. In October the same year, he was part of the collaborative effort ‘Without Warning’, with Offset and Metro Booming. For what it was worth, his debut, ‘Issa Album’, was an impressive project aimed at solidifying his spot in the hip hop scene. He delivered quite a number of hits, like ‘Bank Account” and “Close My Eyes”. 

We’ve seen him feature on a couple of major projects after that, including Quavo’s “Quavo Huncho,” Metro Boomin’s “Not All Heroes Wear Capes” and Post Malone’s “Beerbongs with Bentleys.” Now he is back with a brand new full-length LP that is 15 tracks long and complete with amazing spectacular guest appearances. 

The sophomore studio project kicks off with “A lot”, a collaborative track featuring Dreamville’s very own J Cole. This reflective track sees both artistes self-examine their career, lives and address the state of the music industry. 21 highlights the gang life on “break da law” and recruits Yung Miami on “a&t” (which stands for ass and titties) to detail their sexual experiences after success.

He takes it a notch lower on “out for the night” before he gets back to his usual gang-praising thing on the track “Gun smoke.” 21 Savage and Migos member Offset have developed a chemistry that doesn’t seem to come to an end any time soon as is expressed on “1.5.” Post Malone, too, has developed a brotherhood with 21 that saw them release banger “Rockstar” and now “All my friends.” 

Gunna and Lil Baby join 21 on “can’t live without it”, while Project Pat and ScHoolBoy Q offer bars on the grimy track “good day”. “Pad lock” reintroduces us to the adlibs, rap scheme and score-settling lyricism that make up 21’s style. In the most unlikely of collaborations comes out probably the most essential track of the album. Childish Gambino offers his ingenuity on “Monster,” a track that details the negative side of fame and wealth. 

By the time 21 savage closes out the LP with “4L”, you can easily tell he is a truly changed person. His style and influences have really transformed and in an amazing way. This project is a great addition to his catalogue and the perfect Christmas gift to all hip hop heads out there. 


Star Rating: 3.5/5

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