Release Date: Jul 7, 2017
Record label: Slaughter Gang
Issa constitutes a breakthrough for 21 Savage. Slowly but surely, through tentative disavowals of past behaviour, the young Atlanta rapper is starting to thaw. A year ago he was brashly patriarchal; today he's a relative gentleman. "I won't waste your time if you don't waste mine / I wanna taste yours if you gon' taste mine," he bargains on "FaceTime." But it takes a long while to exorcise one's demons.
21 Savage built his reputation in the underground before experiencing mainstream success in 2016 thanks to the Metro Boomin-helmed Savage Mode. The project was relatively short but incredibly potent. Metro accentuated 21's menacing yet dry delivery by utilizing an array of measured and sinister sounding beats. One year later, 21 seems determined to not be pigeonholed by his breakout sound.
21 Savage skulks through verses like a villain in a slasher flick. On the cover of his Slaughter King mixtape he sported a hockey mask like Jason. His mixtape titles all evoke horror gore. His verses are built around heart-racing, hair-bristling anticipation. He preys on victims and terrorizes them ….
Issa Album is a party hosted by 21 Savage, but it’s Metro Boomin who brought the booze and snacks. Born Leland Wayne, Metro Boomin is the 23-year-old producer whose melodic, menacing beats have been marching up the charts long before he could legally drink. He first gained notice for "Tuesday", the 2014 single by ILoveMakonnen, who had never had a hit before and hasn't had one since.
On record, a compelling version darkness is often just a half-step away from ennui. The Atlanta rapper 21 Savage managed to stay closer to the former half on last year’s excellent Savage Mode, where he sanded off his high-pitch yap into a sneakily melodic growl. Though many have attributed that project’s success to Metro Boomin’s production--stark and surreal, like glistening kaleidoscope lenses in a cave--its cinematic pull was more rooted in the appeal of 21 Savage’s serrated persona.