“Savage Mode II” is not the first time 21 Savage has partnered with Metro Boomin. It’s not even the second time. Their first release together was the “Savage Mode” EP in 2016, after which they continued to collaborate heavily on Savage’s solo albums and group albums alike. Even though the drop “If young Metro don’t trust you, I’m gon’ shoot you” has become a worldwide identified signature given his ubiquitous presence on major rap albums, there’s still a special and close association for me between Savage & Metro. They seem to know each other well, compliment each other well, and do some of their best work with each other. It’s fair to say I was looking forward to writing about “Savage Mode II.”
“Ay, turn your phone off, take your clothes off
I’ma savage, but I fuck her to a slow song
Turn the lights down, lay the pipe down
I ain’t Mr. Right, but I’m Mr. Right Now
She want me to fuck her to Beyoncé
But I don’t treat her like she my fiancé
Make that thing sing like Sade
1942, it ain’t no Chardonnay”
Drake joins the party here and makes the completely random claim that he “used to date SZA back in ’08.” I’ve never seen nor heard that before this track — I only knew about Rihanna and his baby momma. I’m not saying it’s not true, just that it comes across like a really weird flex to bring it up now that she’s a superstar in her own right. I don’t know if it’s intended to be a single since the album only dropped a few days ago as of this writing and there ARE no official singles yet, but with a few choice edits it’d go right into rotation. I’m not sure “Slidin” ever could (not that it matters) though.
21 is unapologetically bragging about “shooting at houses” and “hitting brains” and says “while you was in college I was, robbinnnnnnn.” Like many of the songs on “Savage Mode II” there are frequent interjections of “21” between bars, which would probably become more irritating were it not for Metro Boomin’s beats and the narration from Morgan Freeman. NO JOKE. The legendary Hollywood actor pops up in the intro and throughout the album to lend an air of gravitas to the proceedings with his signature voice.
The 44 minutes of this album could exist without Mr. Freeman, but they couldn’t exist without Metro Boomin. Even though I have been and continue to be interested in the 21 Savage phenomenon, there are times I wonder why he makes the choices he does lyrically. On songs like “Brand New Draco” he uses the word “pussy” more than Too $hort does “bitch” and there’s literally no good reason for it other than to say “You are inferior to me as a man because I wear more diamonds and drive more expensive cars.” Aside from the obvious misogyny and vapid consumerism on display, he uses the phrase “I’m rich for real” just to ensure we don’t make the mistake of thinking he’s posturing only for the song.
This is where I ultimately become conflicted about 21. He’s got an appealing vocal tone and delivery, he has an outstanding ear for who to work with on production, and on “Savage Mode II” his only guest stars other than Drake are Young Nudy (“Snitches & Rats”) and Young Thug (“Rich Nigga Shit”). We truly get to hear from 21 on this album — he’s not sharing the spotlight with Offset or anyone else. With that much freedom to shine I keep expecting him to elevate his game with some next level topics and rhymes.
Over time I’ve gotten the impression 21 feels pressure from his fan base to be as Savage as his name implies. Ultimately he’s interpreted that to mean his lyrics must relentlessly (almost monotonously) drill home the same themes over and over — fuck with me and I’ll shoot you, I get sex whenever I want, and my life is better than yours at all times. He’s a solid RAPPER through and through and in an era of singers I’m always going to appreciate that, but if I said I could ignore the banality of “Savage Mode II” lyrically I’d be lying.