21 Savage, Offset battle on ‘Without Warning’

Henry Netherland

Photo Courtesy: iTunes

Out of the southern rap scene comes a star-powered collaboration album that is more exciting in concept than it is in person.

“Without Warning” is possibly one of the most bizarre yet intriguing album contexts of 2017. The album stars three of some the biggest members of the Atlanta trap scene: 2016 XXL Freshman 21 Savage, member of the rap group, Migos, Offset and prolific producer, Metro Boomin. Savage is an interesting choice because many of his best songs have combined low-key, eerie trap instrumentals with over-the-top violent lyrics. A vintage horror movie aesthetic is sure to fit right into Savage’s wheelhouse. Offset is also an interesting choice, because this collaboration effort can be considered his debut album.

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Out of the three Migos, Offset has always been the least distinctive. At this point, Quavo has earned his spot as the member of the Migos with the most crossover potential with countless features under his belt. And even though Takeoff may not always have the strongest hooks, he makes up for it on the verses with his consistent, tight triplet flows. Offset lies in the middle of the spectrum to the point where he is capable of crafting hooks and rapping verses but not to the point where it becomes truly impressive.

The album is a short 10 tracks running at 34 minutes. Despite being a collaborative album, the project features a total of four solo tracks with Offset and Savage both performing twice.

“My Choppa Hate” is one of the two Savage solo tracks and the best song on the entire album. While not lyrically dense, the outro has one of the few moments where Metro Boomin really commits to the horror movie theme the project is meant to embody. The ending not only emphasizes the dark aesthetic, but it also provides the perfect transition for one of Offset’s solo cuts, “Nightmare.”

The worst track on the album is “Still Serving.” Even though the track does not fit into the unlistenable category, it is easily one of the blandest tracks any of the three has been involved in. Savage sounds bored as ever, Offset brings an underwhelming amount of energy to the table and Metro Boomin gives the listeners his usual formula with no new ideas being presented at all. Within the context of the album, the song sounds like it fits right in. However, on its own, the track becomes a total throwaway.

As expected, the lyrics have very little in the way of substance. However, it has been long established that the main focuses of Migos and Savage are the atmosphere and the flows. This aspect has long been put on the backburner of songs similar in style. In some cases, a fantastic song can still be made without having a lot of lyrical depth. Within this album, it makes no real difference in the quality.

Metro Boomin’s production is listenable but hardly feels different from anything he has made in the past. When he does attach the horror aesthetic to his tracks, he has a bad tendency to litter the instrumental with fluttering hi-hats and other production edits to the point where the original instrumental is difficult to hear. This is a consistent issue throughout the album until it reaches the closer, “Darth Vader.” This song has the best production on the project. It has a spacy atmospheric vibe to it that has yet to be seen on the rest of the album. While it does stand out from the rest of the track-listing, its distinct sound does not negate the atmosphere the rest of the project has tried to build up. In contrast to the amazing production; however, Savage and Offset sound like beached fishes when they are rapping. Overall, as enjoyable as the song is, it is a poor choice to end the album off.

Between Offset and Savage, Offset comes through with better performances overall. As distinctive as Savage may be vocally, he continues to be a one trick pony. Fortunately, Offset’s speedy flow is able to break up Savage’s monotony most of the time. Consistently, Offset comes through with high energy flows with whirring adlibs sprinkled around the verses.

Should you listen to it? Maybe.

For die-hard trap music fanatics, this will be the album to be played at every Halloween party in the near future. For anyone else who may only dabble in southern hip-hop, this is another meat and potatoes trap album. Regardless of the implied concept, the album feels like an average trap project. Everyone involved feels as though they are merely going through the motions.

Best Songs: “My Choppa Hate,” “Rap Saved Me (feat. Quavo)”

Worst Song: “Still Serving”

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Available on: Spotify and iTunes

Collegian reporter Henry Netherland can be reached at entertainment@.com or on Twitter @NetherlandHenry.