Atlanta Hip-Hop has dominated the sound of the genre for close to two decades. During this time we’ve seen the crown passed around but the new generation of artists are ok with sharing the accolades that come with being stars in the music industry. You never hear Migos getting jealous because Young Thug is hot at a moment. You don’t see Metro Boomin sending subliminal tweets because Sonny Digital produced a #1 song that knocked him off the charts. There are a couple of factors that go into the creation of this new generation of Atlanta Hip-Hop. One of these happen to be many of the popular artists in Atlanta are disciples of Gucci Mane. Radric Davis’ discovery of talent is impeccable and he instilled a collaborative mentality that the new generation of Atlanta embraces. The other factor? Generation Z is motivated to work more in groups and celebrate each other’s wins rather than be competitive. They realize there’s enough of the pie for everyone to find success in a cluttered musical landscape.
This model has lead to quality music from people like 21 Savage. His collaboration project with Metro Boomin, Savage Mode, was the breakout project from Atlanta last year. There has also been controversy from another artist that popped up around the same time with a similar name. In fact so similar that it lead some listeners to getting the artists confused. Let’s not forget the virality of 21’s famous “issa knife” video which lead to a slew of memes and the rollout for this album.
Issa Album is one of the few releases without features in 2017. As expected, 21 is accompanied by production from several Atlanta hit makers including Metro, Zaytoven and Southside. 21 shows his production chops on the catchy ‘Bank Account’ and even taps DJ Mustard for the drunk love anthem known as ‘FaceTime’. The framework for this album lies in the production as it doesn’t veer far from what an Atlanta project sounds like now days. It’s also what gives 21 the potential to make his best music as you walk in knowing what to expect.
21 Savage’s major label debut is a more personal look into the hard road that he had to take to success but it fails to do more than stretch the surface level of these subjects. This is executed properly on ‘Close My Eyes’ when 21 recounts his childhood: “we was young you was on the swing, I was playing with sticks/in the trap listenin’ to the brakes on the Crown Vic”. There are several instances on this album where he drops a few personal bars but then changes the subject, leading you to believe that his past is too much to talk about. It also becomes hard to take some of the subject matter seriously. For instance when 21 talks about passing a girl to his crew then immediately following it up with a song about love, notably on ‘Money Convo’ to ‘Special’.
While the first half of Issa Album takes a while to build it’s the second half that takes off. ‘Nothin New’ to ‘Money Convo’ are 21 giving us LeBron James statistics as he stays in his lane and crafts four great songs. There’s a lot of growth that 21 Savage has to do in order to be one of the next Atlanta names to break into the mainstream. With the way that Atlanta is setup to support its artists, we’ll see 21 Savage be a breakout star in the coming years.
Repeatable: ‘Bank Account’, ‘Dead People’, ‘Money Convo’
Skippable: ‘Baby Girl’, ‘FaceTime’, ‘Special’
By Joe Coad