The news of today reported by the journalists of tomorrow

The Beacon

The news of today reported by the journalists of tomorrow

The Beacon

The news of today reported by the journalists of tomorrow

The Beacon

Suffering from success: 21 Savage’s “american dream” review

Laura De Lora

On Jan. 12, 21 Savage released his third studio album, “american dream.” Coming after his insanely successful collaboration album with Drake, “Her Loss,” 21 was attempting to ride off his mainstream success with this album. 

Less than a week prior to the album’s release, he announced that he’d be creating a movie, sharing the same name. Days after this, he revealed to the public that he’s releasing yet another project for fans to listen to.

Starting off with the first song of the album, “all of me,” includes a great-sounding sample. The voice used from the sample is very soft and goes well with 21’s softish vocals on this track. 21’s performance wasn’t too exciting for me as he uses his signature flow and doesn’t deviate from it whatsoever.

“Redrum” was immediately a fan-favorite following the record’s release. Yet again, I enjoy the sample being used and applaud 21’s use of these kinds of productions. You rarely hear this kind of soundscape from him, which makes it nice to hear something new from him. A common theme here is him using the same flow over and over again throughout the entire album nearly. It’s not bad by any means, but it allows for the album to get repetitive and boring vocal-wise very quickly. 

My personal favorite track is “n.h.i.e.” It features Doja Cat, which made many people write the song off. This upsets me because the song is actually so great sonically. Her performance is very chill and I’m here for it. It sets a certain tone that allows 21 to show his softer side. The instrumental is easily my favorite part of the song. I don’t know how to explain it but it just makes me want to hear it over and over again. 

“Sneaky” may be one of my least favorite 21 Savage songs in general. The instrumental is annoying as it’s just always in your ear just ringing over and over again. 21’s verse and chorus is laughably bad. He even makes it seem like he’s full of himself because of the constant “mhm” adlib, which is also blood-boiling. This track alone brings the album down so much.

“Pop ur shit” is another favorite of mine because of the featured artist. The chorus, however, is a big mess. For the first half of it, it has 21 just repeating “pop your shit” eight times in a row followed by the worst “bar” I’ve heard in a while. “It smell like gas, I think somebody pooped.” WHAT? I don’t know why artists feel the need to clutter their songs up with lines like this. The feature, Young Thug, saves this song so much. I’m a little bit of a fan of his, so it’s nice seeing him not just being on this song, but pulling it out of the trenches with his clever vocal inflections. Besides the terrible chorus, this song is quite good.

“Letter to my brudda” is also pretty great in its own right. The production is as excellent as ever and 21’s performance is even pretty good here. Sure, it’s still similar to his previous verses, but he sounds more alive than usual on this track. Even the subject matter is pretty great as he’s exploring things that he’s been forced to experience when living the “street life,” such as loyalty and betrayal. We even see him resenting his past ways and asking for his sins to be lifted off of him in the second verse. 

“Dangerous” offers a solid Lil Durk feature, which amazes me simply because it’s actually good. I’m known for hating Lil Durk so much, but I can say that he’s great here. Both artists are serious with their delivery which heightens the track. The instrumental is enjoyable, being crafted by legendary producer, Metro Boomin, most known for collaborating with the faces of  trap music like 21 Savage and Future. This track gives me a “SAVAGE MODE II” feel which I loved entirely, front to back. 

Travis Scott brings on his “UTOPIA” vibes on “nee-nah.” In my humble opinion, I believe that he carries this song. Everything about his performance is amazing. Even the instrumental has a dystopian kind-of feel, matching the whole aesthetic of the era he’s currently in. 21’s verse isn’t bad by any means, but it is severely overshadowed by Travis’s verses.

Another track I cannot get behind is “see the real.” It’s just that nothing is really brought to the table. The instrumental is somewhat annoying. 21’s verses are lackluster, although I must applaud them for varying a bit flow-wise. Overall, nothing really stands out here, and I wouldn’t mind if this track was scrapped completely and got something else put in place instead of it.

Another favorite of mine is “prove it” with Summer Walker. I’ve been getting into Walker piece by piece, and I love nearly everything I’ve heard from her. Just like “n.h.i.e,” the beat is floaty and cheerful, but I feel as if it matches 21’s vocals more than the usual beats he chooses. Although Walker only contributes to the chorus and some background vocals, I deeply enjoy everything she brought to the table. 

“Should’ve wore a bonnet” is another great departure from 21’s usual sound. This time around, it’s a sort of an R&B track because of the feature included, Brent Faiyaz. Both artists are amazing here. I even think that this contains one of 21’s best verses on the album. The instrumental is also a favorite of mine because of the inclusion of both R&B and trap. Everything about this song is excellent.

“Just like me” offers a whole new sound to the album. Since Burna Boy is on it, it takes on a reggae approach. I don’t like Burna Boy all that much, but I can stand his chorus. The track as a whole makes an attempt to “trap-ify” the reggae-inspired beat and does it quite well. With the mixture of the two, 21’s performance is made even better.

“Red sky” is another fan-favorite with its cinematic feel. From the intro and chorus, from Tommy Newport and Mikky Ekko, to the grimmy-feeling production, this whole song seems like it was taken out of an action movie. I must applaud 21 for his verses. He’s leveled up his delivery a bit, and it made the song. One little thing I liked about this song was how whenever it would transition from a verse to a chorus, the instrumental would get a lot quieter, making it seem like time stopped just for the chorus to come in.

The last track on this project is “dark days,” which showcases an R&B artist, Mariah the Scientist. The track as a whole is very chill as the instrumental is lowkey in terms of instrument usage. The production gives a chance to 21 and Mariah to speak what’s on their mind as 21’s and Mariah’s vocals match perfectly with the vibe of the track. Just like “letter to my brudda,” 21 uses this track to speak upon street life. To sum it up, 21 believed that the time he was in the streets was the darkest period in his life. Mariah doesn’t fail to add an emotional layer to the song with her amazing, wholehearted vocals. This is without a doubt, one of the most heartfelt outros I’ve heard in a long time.

I’ll admit, getting over that hump of 21’s performances being repetitive was quite hard on my first few listens. However, when I tried to get past that, I loved this album. From the fantastic production to the unique features, everything here was great. Even if 21’s rapping wasn’t sticking out like a sore thumb, it still had a great basis. Even the runtime of the album was great, only having 14 songs, which is a perfect middle ground in my eyes. 

With all of this being taken into account, I’m giving this album a straight 8 on a 10-point scale.