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The Saratoga Falcon

The Saratoga Falcon

21 Savage’s collaborations top his solos

21 Savage at Versace fall 2019 fashion show.

After listening to 21 Savage and Drake’s collaboration album, “Her Loss,” released last November, I was reminded that 21 Savage’s collaborations are much more entertaining than his solo music. The contrast between Drake’s higher singing voice and 21 Savage’s powerful voice make their songs uniquely diverse with a range of voice and emotion.

As a rapper who has steadily been rising in popularity over the last few years, the 31-year-old Shéyaa Bin Abraham-Joseph, known by his stage name 21 Savage, certainly has solo songs that stand out. Some of my favorites are “a lot”, “1.5” and “ball w/o you.” However, while his solo songs have a large audience appeal due to their emotionally raw lyrics and laid back flow, not every song is a winner: Many have relatively similar-sounding melodies and fail to diversify and be unique. In comparison, Drake, arguably one of the most famous artists right now, constantly provides diversity in his music by making music in several different genres and delighting listeners with a multitude of feelings through different creations.

Still, whenever I see a song by another artist that features 21 Savage, my expectations for the song tend to go up. It feels like every time 21 Savage has even as little as one verse in a song, the energy of the song is amped up by his witty, razor-sharp lyrics and deep voice.

One of my favorite 21 Savage features is his appearance in “Jimmy Cooks” by Drake from the album, “Honestly, Nevermind.” While the beginning of the song is heavily dominated by Drake’s voice, 21 Savage enters cleverly on the last word of the intro, transitioning into storytelling about street life. He launches into fiery threats and funny name drops, including this gem: “If I was Will Smith, I would’ve slapped him with a stick,” referencing Smith’s infamous altercation with comedian Chris Rock at the 2022 Oscars. 

The occasional 21 Savage solo songs that become hits incorporate elements similar to his verse in “Jimmy Cooks.” In my favorite solo song from him, “1.5,” 21 Savage flaunts his wealth and describes his attachment to his friends, offering a view into his life as a successful rapper. He refers to his lavish and fashionable lifestyle through lyrics such as, “Too much drip, I’m rainin’, bought a Gucci umbrella.” The play on the word “drip” makes the lyrics entertaining to listen to, while the fast-paced tempo and catchy beat create a hype feeling for the song.

Unfortunately, the majority of his songs lack these fun elements that grab my attention. While I can appreciate listening to his sadder feeling songs at times, I tend to miss the energy that characterize his collaborations.

After hearing 21 Savage’s work with artists such as JID, Metro Boomin, Post Malone and Drake, nearly every verse 21 Savage has in these songs delivers music on par with my expectations. Fans can reason to hope more music will be coming soon: In a tweet earlier this year, he hinted: “It’s time” with a long series of eye emojis. Many fans think that this implies a new album, and considering that it’s been years since his last solo album, a surprise like this is long overdue. 

While I still believe that his collaborations remain superior to his solos, I’m open to change — maybe an incredible new release could be the thing that finally changes my mind.

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