21 Savage would seem to be, to all appearances, a pretty standard-issue, mediocre Trap Rapper. He raps the typical Gangsta-Rap cliches over beats that are adequate, but not particularly special, and unlike the “Hook Artists” like Future and Young Thug, he doesn’t do anything particularly special with his vocal melodies. But there is one thing that places him above the rest of his particular subgenre…it’s just not something normally given much value in the Rap genre. Put simply, of all the Rappers that have ever threatened to kill me in a song (and there are a lot of them), this is the first one who sounds like he might actually do it. His talents lies not in his lyrics, his melodies or even his beats, but in his delivery. His voice seems to convey a nuanced, tormented insanity that is absolutely bone-chilling to listen to and gives his lyrics about violence and murder an impact they would never have in and of themselves. In this sense, he functions more like a Musical Theater actor than a conventional Rapper…after all, scores of people have had major careers on Broadway based purely on their ability to deliver the dramatic content of a song. His performance on this song, which details the apparently autobiographical story of his violently delinquent youth, actually reminds me in a strange way of Len Cariou in Sweeney Todd, which is quite a compliment.
Verdict: Average at best for the song itself, but very good indeed for the performance.