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Issa newsletter.

It’s been a down year for the world, and for the hip hop genre as well. There’s been a few great 2020 albums, including Nas “King’s Disease”, Freddie Gibbs & Alchemist “Alfredo”, Big Sean “Detroit 2”, Gunna “Wunna” and Run The Jewels “RTJ4”, but for the most part this has been a disappointing year for rap. In addition to Dissect coming back with excellent content, there’s another album that caught me by surprise recently and that’s “Savage Mode II” by Metro Boomin and 21 Savage.

Atlanta rapper 21 Savage burst onto the music scene in 2016 with his hit single “X” with Future from the original “Savage Mode” and followed it up in 2017 with his single “Bank Account” and his verse on Post Malone’s “Rockstar”. His music was renowned for its seemingly biographical content and rawness, but it became clear in 2018 that 21 Savage was also developing and growing as a person.

In March 2018, 21 Savage went on The Ellen Show to perform and donate a $21,000 check to a new foundation he created aimed at teaching children financial literacy. In July 2018 he donated $10,000 to fund an anti-bullying campaign for Atlanta elementary school children. He also has contributed to annual back to school drives for Atlanta youth to provide school supplies, clothes, haircuts and school uniforms. His philanthropy and advocacy was slowly building and it took its final form in early 2019.

On January 29, 2019 21 Savage went on The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon to perform his new song “a lot” to promote his new album “I Am Greater Than I Was”. The performance included an additional third verse that wasn’t included on the album version which took exception to Flint, Michigan still lacking clean water and ICE unlawfully detaining immigrants and children at our country’s southern border. Less than a week after this performance, 21 Savage was arrested and detained by ICE and it was revealed that he was actually born in London, United Kingdom and was living in the United States on an expired visa. He was eventually released from ICE custody but his case was never resolved and is still pending to this day.

It seemed like 21 Savage was transforming to include more socially aware lyrics in his music, personified by the fact that the album was titled “I Am Greater Than I Was”. This was matching his social contributions and philanthropy, but all of this immediately stopped following his own personal run-in with ICE. That’s why I was so taken aback by his newest album “Savage Mode II”, because it seems like he’s done a complete 180 and is now back to rapping about street life and the savage / Slaughter Gang lifestyle. In the video below for the album’s standout track “Runnin” it looks like he’s going through the motions. I wonder if his musical content was part of the terms of his release from ICE custody, but I doubt we’ll ever know the truth.

Unfortunately, I guess issa knife again.

Author of The Powers That Be

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