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Mounds View High School's student news site.

The Viewer

Mounds View High School's student news site.

The Viewer

Mounds View High School's student news site.

The Viewer

Mounds View High School's student news site.

The Viewer

London to Atlanta: 21’s ‘American Dream’

Released on Jan. 12, 21 Savage’s new album “American Dream,” his first in five years, narrates 21’s tragic early life.
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21 Savage and Epic Records

Released on Jan. 12, 21 Savage’s new album “American Dream,” his first in five years, narrates 21’s tragic early life. 21 was born in London and raised in Atlanta, where he experienced a childhood surrounded by crime and tragedy. Up until this album, 21’s struggles as an undocumented Black immigrant were neglected in his music. For the past few years, 21 has been trapped in a legal battle over his immigration status, being arrested by ICE agents a week before the 2019 Grammys.  

As the album explores these themes, 21 showcases his ability to add significant meaning and thought behind his lyrics, demonstrated through his balance between vivid storytelling and his normal trapping lyricism. Yet, other aspects of the album fell flat.

21 has always been one of my favorite rappers because normally his lyrics are just as impressive and add just as much to his songs as his beats do, while many other rappers rely heavily on their beats to cover up for tasteless lyrics. 21 gives value to his lyrics, and they strongly connect to the themes of his work. But “American Dream” really struggled to match his earlier work, with many of its tracks having basic beats and repetitive lyrics that fail to compare to 21’s earlier work. 

The album doesn’t seem to know what it wants to be. Each song feels like it’s from an entirely different album and genuinely feels disorganized. It starts very strong with songs like “all of me” and “redrum” — an ode to his early life in London. They have everything I like: They play to 21’s strengths and include 21’s unique lyricism. The lyrics actually add meaning to the song and mix very well with the beat. 

The album really shines with its strong beats and features. Doja Cat and Brent Faiyz blend seamlessly with 21 and contribute well to their tracks. Doja, featured in “n.h.i.e.,” does a surprisingly good job of keeping 21’s flow, and Faiyaz’s phenomenal vocals were an unexpected but truly welcomed addition to the album. 

But as I progressed throughout the tracklist, songs like “pop ur sh*t” and “née-nah” really left me disappointed by how stale and repetitive the lyrics felt. They’re very tacky and fail to explore any original ideas or themes, which 21 usually does well. The lyrics to “pop ur sh*t” tries to explore themes of conspicuous consumption, as 21 describes how he measures his success through purchases of luxury goods. While this is a fairly common theme, it still could’ve been an interesting enough topic, but the song struggles to give it any deeper meaning with its basic and unappealing lyrics. 

The song “née-nah” is no better. 21 feels like a featured artist despite it being his own song. Travis Scott starts the song by giving a decent performance. His flow throughout the song is solid, and his voice mixes well with the beat. When 21 finally begins, he gives a dull performance; his lyrics sound out of place with the beat, especially compared to how well Travis Scott performs. 

These disappointing songs only sting worse given the beats were solid. “Pop ur sh*t” has a fantastic gritty guitar beat, and “née-nah” has the modern trap beat that 21 usually performs well on. 

The album’s downfall comes from its lack of character in its lyricism. Several tracks suffer from uninspired and dull performances by 21, and the album doesn’t meet the expectations that 21 has set in previous albums — it struggles to follow the theme set in early tracks, leading to a feeling of disorganization and sloppiness. This album has potential, but in the end, it fails to impress. 

About the Contributor
Matthew Betti
Matthew Betti, Staff Reporter
Matthew is a sophomore staff reporter, and this year is his first year on The Viewer.
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