Project of the week: 21 Savage & Metro Boomin’ – Savage Mode II
At one point on Savage Mode II, cinema legend Morgan Freeman asks the unresolved question “are things better or worse the second time around?” This totally depends on context and situation. In the case of say, the John Wick series-where each movie seems to one-up itself any time Keanu puts the suit on-then yeah, I’d say the second (and third) time around is also awesome. But if we’re talking Hot Tub Time Machine 2, then hell no.
With Savage Mode II, Metro Boomin’ and 21 Savage are in their cinematic bag, creating not only a sequel to the first tape from 2016, but an entire production that shouldn’t be consumed in any order but the one that’s present. If anything, this project feels like a sequel to 2017’s Without Warning, a “Nightmare on Elm Street” successor with harrowing tales from Savage Land, and ominous production from Atlanta’s very own Boomin’ Metropolis.
The stakes appear higher than ever this time around, as 21 continues to broaden his landscape past the blackhearted horror-core that made him a staple in the first place. There’s attempts at 90s R&B (“Mr. Right Now” and “RIP Luv”) that are reminiscent of his semi-famous Instagram stories, where he essentially peforms karaoke to some of his favorite classic R&B hits from that era. He also tries the laid-back west coast flow on “Steppin’ On N****s,” which goes over better than expected thanks to piano keys (and a legendary Rodney O and Joe Colley sample from 1988) that sway back and forth with a daunting zeal.
To avoid self-parody though, Savage offers a good mixture of slasher-house imagery (“Sliding'” and “Runnin'”) without ever feeling too monotonous or over-the-top. He even states in a recent interview with DJ Scream and Big Bank that business and being a great entertainer are far more important than participating in the street life again. He’s also a father too, which inherently changes a lot of one’s lifestyle.
The beats on this tape are arguably some of Metro’s most sophisticated to date, especially since they’re presented in score-like fashion. Every string transitions smoothly from one track to another, a stylistic decision that only adds to the cinematic nature of the album. This was something he briefly toyed with on Not All Heroes Wear Capes and Without Warning, but Savage Mode II is the first time where Metro’s screenwriter mentality comes fully into fruition. From there, this eerie landscape is created right in time for the second part of autumn.
Whereas Fleet Foxes’ new album Shore feels perfect for an early morning jog where the fog dissipates and the only sound you hear is the crunchiness of fallen leaves, Savage Mode II operates in a more nocturnal setting. The fog rises again, visibility is low, and the only direction in life comes courtesy of Morgan Freeman’s alluring tonalities, and a sign that says “no rodents allowed.”
Some other songs
Quin NFN – “Nothing To Me”
This came out a little while ago, but I want to highlight in this column to show how effortless Quin’s flow is (and has always been). Quincho is easily one of the hardest albums of 2020, and this new single only confirms my prior sentiment. Quit rides this jittery beat in an almost conversational way, which only adds to the rawness that I initially fell in love with on his last project. He’s by far one of the hottest out in Texas right now.
Larry June & Harry Fraud – “Organic Miracles”
I’ve noticed a lot of people say that Hit-Boy has been the producer of the year, but to me, Harry Fraud and The Alchemist have carried a more consistent run into October. Between Curren$y’s OutRunners collaboration, and now this new tape with Larry June, Fraud continues to showcase his ability to make breezy instrumentals that mimic wind chimes blowing through the air on a cool fall day. June’s seamless transition from polished spitter to serene crooner on “Organic Miracles” only adds to the calmness. Simply put, this is music to vibe out too.
YG – “Blood Walk”
Much like with his last album, I feel like YG’s newest project My Life 4Hunnid is aesthetically aimless at points. He attempts a cringeworthy performance with autotune on the Lil Tjay-assissted “Hate On Me,” and includes an awkward collaboration with Ty Dolla $ign and Tyga that never finds cohesion on “Rodeo.” He also uses too many producers in my opinion, which only adds to the unnecessary left turns.
Regardless, YG is still able to come through with a certified west coast banger, no matter how mixed I may feel about his recent output. “Blood Walk” is exactly that, a track that gains momentum right from the beginning thanks to an infectious hook from Watts native D3szn. YG sits comfortably as an elder statesman in the rap game, so it’s always nice to see him put someone’s name out to the public. The entire song operates in zig-zag motion without ever letting up.
BfB Packman (feat. Wiz Khalifa) – .”FUNTIME”
This is an awesome collaboration because both these rappers have seemingly perfected the art of what I like to call “fun-rapping.” They each take their art more serious than life, and it shows in everything they’ve done recently. To BfB and Wiz, 2020 is just a bump in the road.
Speaking of Mr. Khalifa…
Here is the menu to his new HotBox delivery service. According to his new album Big Pimpin’, the food is cooked by Wiz’s personal chefs out of a secret kitchen. Structurally, it’s no different than Grubhub or Uber Eats. Most food items are references to past songs (Mac and Yellow), or weed in general. Some plainly have his name in its title, like “Tangy Buffalo Wiz Wings.”
So far, the only way you can order to your house is if it’s present in your area. And the only way it can get into your area is if enough people vote for it in that specific section of the country. So with that in mind, if anyone who’s reading this is from the Massachusetts area, please vote for the HotBox menu to come to the east coast. The food honestly looks great.