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21 Savage produces strong effort with third studio album

21 Savage released his third studio album “American Dream” January 12. Photo courtesy of Epic Records

Rap fans get excited because Atlanta rapper 21 Savage has dropped a new album. 21 Savage has risen to the top of the rap game over the past decade ever since his release of “I am > I was” and has risen to superstardom in the pop culture world ever since. The one-time Grammy winner has captivated audiences with his lyricism and ability to enhance already great instrumentals. On January 17, 21 Savage released his third studio album, “The American Dream”, which he had teased since the summer of 2023 during his tour with Drake.

The album starts with a speech from his mother, who explains over an instrumental why she moved her son from Great Britain to the rough neighborhoods of Atlanta, Georgia. She explains that although it was hard and her son grew up around things that no child should be around,  she felt moving to America gave him the best chance in life to be “A winner”. This theme of overcoming hardship is a theme that is present throughout the entire album. The instrumental from this intro leads right into the real first song, “All of Me”. This is an interesting song as it has a strong instrumental in it as well as some deep lyricism and themes from 21 in it. What he talks about in the song is his difficulties in finding real, loyal friendships ever since his massive blow-up into fame, and people wanting handouts from him when they give him nothing in return. Overall, it’s a solid kickoff to the album and is a great showcase of what to expect throughout the rest of the tracks.

After that, perhaps the biggest highlight of the entire album is “Redrum.” The song starts with an interesting sample that is slow and melodic with some great vocals. The beat slowly starts to pick up into a trap beat with the sample in the background of the whole song. This was a great song by 21 as he showcased his ability to elevate an incredibly interesting and audibly appealing instrumental. The only real downside to the song is that the lyrics don’t really say anything of substance and don’t tell a story, but this is only a nitpick on what is otherwise a fantastic track. “Nee-Nah” Gives a different yet similar feel to the album. The song is produced by Metro Boomin, someone who is known for making great tracks with 21, and also features Travis Scott, someone who has a much different style from 21 Savage. The two accomplished artists almost meet in the middle of this song and find a way to play to each other’s strengths. This leads to an exceptional listening experience and another highlight of the album as the three collaborators do a nice job of complementing each other and not letting one of the three take over with what they specialize in individually.

Although there are many great songs on the album, there are definitely a couple of lowlights that are on the tracklist. “Should’ve Worn a Bonnet ” is one of these lowlights on the album. The big strength of “Nee-Nah” was all of the artists’ abilities to meet in the middle with each other and make a song that played to all of their strengths. The problem with “Should’ve Worn a Bonnet ” is that the song placates way too much to R&B singer and feature Brent Faiyaz. The song is very sing-songy which does not fit 21’s style making him almost useless on the song. The worst part is that the feature from Brent Faiyaz does not take advantage of the fact that the song is made to make him sound good. He doesn’t do a great job on the song making this one of the worst songs on the whole album.

Generally, the album is good and it is what we have come to expect from 21 Savage over the past couple of years. He performed on most of the songs and brought some great features in to support the album, as well as some great instrumentals and producers to round out and complete the whole album.

Overall rating – 7.6/10

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Liam Mahfood-Thurman
Liam Mahfood-Thurman, Entertainment Editor

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