Savage Mode II‘s half-hearted experimentation makes for diminishing returns this time out for 21 and Metro.
If Savage Mode is the cult classic that introduced the world to 21 Savage and Metro Boomin’, Savage Mode II is the blockbuster sequel, one that affords the two collaborators extravagant resources with which to properly bring their ideal vision to life. The boost in budget is immediately apparent: The set opens with a narration by none other than Morgan Freeman, whose supernatural aura looms throughout, adding a cinematic feel to the project. For his part, Metro maintains his focus on production texture at a granular level, though his aesthetic gets a noticeable upgrade: more subtle flourishes enter the mix, like the synth lines of “Rich Nigga Shit” (which feel luxe to the extent that they summon images of both artists living-it-up in silk loungewear). With everything being grander and more expensive-sounding, 21 seems inspired to become a larger-than-life version of his rap persona, upping the ante of his methodically violent bars and even coming up with exactly one new flow: after an extended stint of rigid rapping, the chorus of “Slidin’” stretches end-rhymes like sweet taffy, utilizing an elongated croak that’s bound to wriggle deep into the listener’s subconscious. With all that said in 21 Savage’s favor, unfortunately, elsewhere on Savage Mode II the rapper seems like the weak link; his simple rhyme schemes have lost a step, failing to deliver the same bone-chillingly intense minimalism that defined his iconic performance on the original Savage Mode. Ultimately, for all the effort that’s been put into making this sequel so extra, the best moments tend to come when 21 and Metro deign to revisit the same formula of grim despondency that worked so well for them the first time around. And that combination of half-hearted experimentation and diminished returns on original strengths add up to Savage Mode II being something of a disappointment.
Published as part of Album Roundup: Oct. – Dec. 2020 | Part 3.