Album Review: 21 Savage & Metro Boomin- Savage Mode 2

21 Savage and Metro Boomin redefines what it means to be a savage in the sequel to the rapper/producer duo’s 2016 project Savage Mode.

During the rollout of 21 Savage’s previous album I Am>I Was, he says in the album’s documentary “I can grow as a person, but y’all still gonna want to hear me smoke people, **** **** and wear designer; like ‘Damn! Y’all wanna keep me in a box.” At the time, this sounded like a strange contrast from the Savage who sent threats of gunplay to his rivals using KKK-themed wordplay in My Choppa Hates ****** , rapped about shooting sprees and home invasions  in No Heart, and aptly titled his debut mixtape The Slaughter Tape. Nevertheless, the album was released to huge commercial success and acclaim from fans and critics alike with songs devoted to more introspective subject matter such as romance and tribulations before fame such as Ball w/o You and A Lot. With activities in his hometown of Atlanta such as a visit to a middle school advocating financial literacy with Congressman Hank Johnson and his annual Issa Back 2 School Drive community events for kids and their families, 21 is poised to mature as a person. Savage Mode 2 reunites the rapper with his frequent collaborator and producer Metro Boomin and revisits his hardcore roots while retaining the introspection and maturity seen in I Am>I Was.

From the start, it is already evident that 21 is ready to return to a murderous and confrontational mood. The track Runnin sets off this vibe with an eerie and ghost-like Diana Ross sample in the background while 808 and hi-hats pound with the pace of someone on a stakeout for his enemies. He raps “Called the first one Savage Mode, my mood, that’s what it was/2016, we was ridin around, beatin ****** up in the club” and “He was talking gangster, we caught him at a light/I let my young ***** do it, it was free, he wanted a stripe”, immediately echoing the nihilism of the first Savage Mode. The following track Glock In My Lap continues the onslaught with horror movie-esque strings and piano in the instrumental while Savage fires with bars like “Leave an opp cold, like December, .45 on me it’s a Kimber/AK knockin down trees like timber, Get your baby mama ‘fore we bend her”. Other tracks such as Many Men expand his tales with themes of jealousy and revenge with lines such as “Many men  wanna kill me, dawg, I feel like 50, I got small fries want my spot tryna defeat me/I got real model bitches tryna R&B me, All that cap inside your raps, I ain’t even play your CD”, keeping one foot in the streets and the other in his newfound life of higher status. There’s even a song reminiscent of 1980s and 1990’s gangsta rap in Steppin On ******, with breakbeat-heavy production and a simplified flow evoking classics like NWA’s Boyz N the Hood and Ice-T’s 6 N The Mornin.

Despite the album’s predominantly gangsta rap vibe, 21 balances the grim content with some songs reflecting themes surrounding his current life. Mr. Right Now shows off a somewhat more romantic side for females with a very sexual Drake verse and lines such as “Ayy, turn your phone off, take your clothes off, I’m a savage but I **** her to a slow song”/Turn the lights down, lay the pipe down, I ain’t Mr. Right, but I’m Mr. Right Now.” Rich ***** ****  with Young Thug celebrates the excesses of fame with its hazy mid-tempo production and  bars like “Saint Laurent the only thing I put on my back, Off-White jeans look like cooked crack/I call my Porsche stomach ‘cause the **** snatch, Gave my girl a dub now her butt fat/You might take your women to the Louis store, My ******* be askin ‘Where’s Chanel at”. On a more serious note, RIP Luv laments 21’s more personal struggles with intimate relationships. In this track, he raps “Woulda never went against you ever, I even tried to make the grudge settle/Yeah I heard you slept with a couple fellas, Still treated you like a virgin because I know you better.” Metro Boomin elevates the instrumental with guitar licks to capture its somber mood.

After the release of the original Savage Mode in 2016, one would think that 21’s definition of savage is to dominate all of his opposition in the context of the streets. With this album, he proves that being savage is to stay focused and keep fighting to be at the top of his game. Metro Boomin’s cinematic production and 21 Savage’s ever evolving perspective makes this one of the most memorable hip hop albums of 2020.

Score: 9/10

Written by: Kristian Gonzales

Picture source: Genius

Essential Artists: Three 6 Mafia

Over 20 years after their emergence in the rap scene in Memphis, the group created the blueprint for modern hip hop and lives on through artists such as 21 Savage, Denzel Curry, and Drake.

Back in 2018, the “Who Run It” challenge gained popularity on YouTube, with rappers like 21 Savage and G Herbo performing freestyles over Three 6 Mafia’s titular track from their 2000 album When the Smoke Clears: Sixty 6, Sixty 1. On Twitter, producer Metro Boomin professed his desire to produce a Three 6 album and in response to Mafia member Gangsta Boo over a controversy of remaking their old songs, producer Mike Will Made It explains that he tries to pay homage to the group with approval from members like DJ Paul and Juicy J. Also, Denzel Curry voices his love for Three 6 Mafia, openly playing their music in interviews and references such as “We was Three 6, Wu Tang, mixed with Dipset” in his 2019 track Ricky. These are examples of the impact on hip hop from the aforementioned Memphis-based rap group, commonly credited for the explosion in popularity of Southern hip hop and the creation of modern rap’s most popular sub-genre, trap music. Here’s three particular tracks have significant influence on today’s sound:

Tear Da Club Up

This track off their 1995 debut studio album Mystic Stylez is one of their earliest hits and it’s 1997 reworking was reportedly banned in several states due to its tendency to incite violence in clubs. Both versions of the track found new life in recent years with its usage as a sample on Travis Scott’s No Bystanders and Future’s Sh*t (Remix) featuring Drake. The cult-esque chant of “Tear Da Club Up” and its nihilistic tone as the chorus is reminiscent of songs such as Narcotics by Denzel Curry and I’m Sippin Tea In Yo Hood by XXXTentacion. The synth melodies that form the backdrop are eerily similar to those of horror movie scores, and lines such as “We should begin to come closer to killa dimensions, N*ggas getting lynchin’s from the Triple 6 anti-christians/May I mention the slizzugs I blaze Scarecrow’s unmerciful, Bullets are bombin da enemy n*gga, see death is unreversable” add a feeling of doom with references to Satanic themes for shock value. In recent years, Three 6’s horror-based and demonic themes spread to acts like $uicideboy$ with lines like “Devil laughs and black ski masks, I’m hearing footsteps through my house” in Vivivi, along with City Morgue with tracks such as Tourettes, containing lines such as “Can’t hold my hands down in Hell/Drain the blood til it bail/I’ll die on these tracks, cause I tripped on the rails.” Not to mention, the hi-hats and bass heavy drum patterns and rapid triplet flows, especially in the second verse, bear heavy resemblance to popular trap songs like I Get the Bag by Gucci Mane featuring Migos and Danny Glover by Young Thug.

Slob On My Knob

If you listen to a lot of current hip hop, chances are you might have heard something similar to the lines “Slob on my Knob like corn on the cob/Check in with me and do your job.” The track from the 1999 album Crazyndalazdayz by Three 6 affiliate Tear Da Club Up Thugs has been sampled and interpolated several times in recent years, from A$AP Ferg’s chorus on his 2017 track Plain Jane: “Ride with the mob, Alhamdulillah/Check in with me and do your job,” to the melody from the original track’s bridge (“Suck a n*gga d*ck or something”) on the G-Eazy/A$AP Rocky/Cardi B collab No Limit with the lines “F*ck with me and get some money” and “F*ck him then I get some money.” There’s also the famous line “La di da di da, Slob on me knob” from the Jay Rock/Kendrick Lamar/Future collab King’s Dead. Rapper Megan Thee Stallion, who has credited Three 6 as one of her main influences on her brash persona, mentioned the track in response to predominantly male critics of her sexually-charged single WAP.

Sippin On Some Syrup

This song from When the Smoke Clears: Sixty 6, Sixty 1 is a pivotal one, with its celebratory themes of drug use. Three 6 is no stranger to drug use in their lyrics, with lines like “Snowin, sneezin’, coughin’, chiefin’, blowin’ heavy dope, Playa f*ckin’ blessed by that funk crunk by onion weed/Don’t you think you higher than Lil Fly till you snort that P, P-funk got me goin’, h*e I’m blowin’ on montana pack” on Now I’m Hi Pt.3 alluding to coke usage. Neither is the genre of hip hop to the topic of lean (cough syrup mixed with soda) use, with early references in songs like Smokin and Leanin by DJ Screw and the Botany Boyz along with the former’s noted inspiration from the drug towards the creation of a now-common slowed down subgenre called “chopped n’ screwed.” With it’s chart position at #30 on Billboard’s Hot R&B/Hip Hop Songs chart, Sippin on Some Syrup is seen as a catalyst for a national exposure to lean in hip hop culture. In the years since, we’ve heard countless songs devoted to lean such as Lil Wayne’s Me and My Drank and Juice WRLD’s Lean Wit Me. In light of the drug-related deaths of Juice WRLD and other rappers like Mac Miller, Mafia member Juicy J acknowledged and apologized for his role in shaping the popularity of drugs in rap on Twitter.

Despite not having the chart topping accolades of their peers like Jay-Z and Lil Wayne or the immediate pop culture visibility of Snoop Dogg, Three 6 Mafia lives on as a fabric in hip hop history with successive waves of young rappers taking inspiration from their sound and persona.

Written by: Kristian Gonzales

Photo Source: Fader





Linkin Park Releases Album Hybrid Theory (20th Anniversary Edition)

When you think of Linkin Park, one thing that comes to mind is Chester Bennington, the lead singer. Bennington was 41 years old when we lost the talented singer to suicide; however, his legacy lives today through music with the band Linkin Park. Their music provides the tools in dealing with trauma; both fans and Chester benefited from it.   


Screenshot of Chester Bennington from Instagram: @chesterbe

On October 24, 2000, rock band Linkin Park released their debut album “Hybrid Theory,” which changed the rock music world. Twenty years later, the band releases their highly anticipated “Hybrid Theory: 20th Anniversary Edition” via Warner Records.

The anniversary edition includes original songs from the album and unreleased tracks, including the highly demanded track “pictureboard,” which fans have requested for the past twenty years. The anniversary album also includes never before heard demos from twenty years ago, rarities, B-sides, DVDs, and 95 minutes of never-before-seen footage and other extras. Band member Mike Shinoda did an unboxing of the twenty-anniversary edition, which can be viewed here.

Extras in the limited-edition box set include an 80-page book containing contributions from the band and unseen photos, a cassette reproduction of the original 2-track street team sampler, a poster of Chester Bennington, three lithographs, and replica tour laminate. Purchase of the box set, which includes these items if in stock are at linkinpark.com


Screenshot of Linkin Park Hybrid Theory 20th Anniversary Box Set Contents from linkinpark.com

Linkin Park launched nonprofit 501 (c)(3) Music For Relief in 2005 to support and aid victims of natural disasters and prevent such tragedies. Music For Relief has raised over $9 million for victims worldwide, ranging from disasters including Hurricane Katrina, Wenchuan Earthquake in China, the cholera outbreak in Zimbabwe, and the two 2010 earthquakes in Haiti and Japan, and Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines. 

Linkin Park Hybrid Theory defined a generation by incorporating alternative rock, hip-hop, and electronic. The album officially certified 12 times platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), reports sales of at least 12 million copies. Singles for the album included “Crawling,” “In the End,” and “One Step Closer” with single “In the End,” reaching a milestone of 1-billion views on YouTube this past summer, following the music video for “Numb.” Awards from the album include a Grammy for Best Hard Rock Performance for Crawling, and then Best Rock Video for “In the End” at the MTV Video Music Awards.

You can stream “Hybrid Theory 20th Anniversary Edition” on Spotify and Apple Music.

Written By: Mike Stark @MikeStarkCA on Twitter and Instagram





5 R&B Artists That You Need to Be Listening to Before the Year Ends

The past year has seen some great releases in the R&B world. Since spending the past 7 months in quarantine, I’ve gotten the chance to listen to and soak in the newer, promising acts within the industry. Let’s dive into some artists that you need to add to your playlist before the end of 2020.

Mariah the Scientist

Since releasing her label debut album Master with RCA Records in late 2019, the Atlanta singer-songwriter is a budding artist to keep an eye out for. Mariah the Scientist, who derives her name from once being a biology major, dropped out of college in 2018 to pursue music full-time. Despite being a newcomer, Mariah is one of the more interesting artists that I’ve listened to. She has had some interesting collaborations, including songs with Lil Baby and Trippie Redd, but her voice somehow makes it mesh. I’m excited to see how her career grows in the coming years.

Song recommendation: Beetlejuice

Lucky Daye

With his first studio album Painted earning him four nominations at the 2020 Grammy Awards, Lucky Daye has quickly made a name for himself in the industry. Since then, he has collaborated with platinum-selling artist Kehlani and has been featured on the fourth season soundtrack of HBO’s hit show Insecure. His smooth-as-butter voice is either coupled with bouncy production or slow ballads, showcasing how versatile his sound can be. In a DJBooth interview, he cites his musical influences from greats such as Prince, Lauryn Hill, Stevie Wonder, and Rick James. Lucky has shown that he knows how to navigate his sound, giving him great potential to develop as an artist.

Song recommendation: Late Night

Victoria Monét

Monét stepped into her debut project Jaguar already with a decorated list of songwriting credits for the likes of Nas, Ariana Grande, and Kendrick Lamar to name a few. Her light voice over groovy bass lines put her in a category of her own. You can hear the influences of disco and funk in her Khalid collaboration “Experience,” in which she sings “I’m all out of love, you gave it away / I’m hoping that experience can get you to change.” Her lyrics are playful yet demanding, which is what makes her music so fun to listen to. Victoria Monét’s confident and sensual songwriting will leave you wanting more.

Song recommendation: Big Boss (Interlude)

Kiana Ledé 

Hailing from Arizona, Kiana Ledé is not from your typical R&B-influenced region. Nevertheless, the 23-year old singer thrives in creating raw, emotional music that has successfully found its way onto the charts. What I admire about her is that she isn’t afraid to wear her heart on her sleeve, and it’s reflected beautifully through her songs. In an interview with Elle, she speaks on her ability to share these emotions through her music, saying, “I’m able to be open about them because I’m talking from a healed place, a very removed place; I’ve already processed all those emotions.” Ledé takes ownership of her feelings and is very self-aware, which is what compelled me to dive further into the rest of her discography. Her album KIKI is a project that I highly recommend listening to from start to finish.

Song recommendation: Forfeit

Leven Kali

Leven Kali is definitely the most underrated artist on this list (in my opinion), but that doesn’t stop him from creating absolute bangers. I was first introduced to him through his song “Do U Wrong” featuring Syd, the lead singer of The Internet. He has released music reminiscent of the early 2000’s R&B sound–which can be heard in tracks like “MADE 4 U,” also featuring Syd. If Leven stays this consistent with releasing quality music, he’s bound to gain the recognition he deserves.

Song recommendation: Joy



Written By: Nathalie Lum

Photo Sources: Pitchfork and Lab.fm