Over the recent years, Atlanta has become a cultural hearth for hip hop. The movement really began in the mid 90’s with the rise of Outkast, whose smooth rhythms and melodic hooks captured the attention of the masses and put Atlanta on the map. From this point on, there was no stopping the area from booming into what is, in my opinion, music’s most exciting city.
From the late 2000’s to present day, a new genre of hip hop has emerged from the underground of Atlanta to grow into a world phenomenon, trap. Some of the world’s biggest artists (Gucci Mane, Future, Migos, 21 Savage, Travis Scott and many others) fall into this genre.
21 Savage was raised in Atlanta by his mother. At a young age, he was expelled from his local school district due to gun possession and was forced to attend school in the Atlanta metro area. Further, in the years leading up to the start of his music career, 21 lived a life entangled with gangs, drugs and loss — in order to escape this violence, he turned to music and immediately found himself to be the metaphorical Jason Voorhees of the industry.
Similarly, Offset, one third of Migos, grew up in a dangerous area of Atlanta and, like 21, cites music as a means of making it out of the city. Offset commanded the Migos mega-hit “Bad and Boujee” and was a driving force behind their sophomore album Culture which topped the charts. Indeed, Offset has had his share of legal struggles throughout his career, but he has been able to remain a popular music force despite this.
In the past two years, both Offset and 21 Savage have had tremendous collaborations with mega-star producer Metro Boomin, who recently just founded his own record label Boominati World Wide. Offset x Metro Boomin x Drake’s “No Complaints” peaked in the top 60 of Billboard’s Hot 100 and 21 Savage x Metro Boomin’s “X” was certified double platinum. It seems as if the only logical next step was to combine the two feature kings to create a project that would become an instant sensation, and that’s exactly what Metro did.
The first track, “Ghostface Killers”, is an immediate standout and recruits the help of Travis Scott, whose presence on any song seems to make it an instant success. One immediately notices how well 21 and Offset’s flows merge together, considering they are almost polar opposites. Offset’s quick spitting perfectly opposes the dark and sinister tone that 21 portrays. This track is perfect preview for the rest of the project as it introduces the album’s theme of prestige and warning of their presence.
The album sees Offset prove that he can support a project on his own through his solo outings “Nightmare” and “Ric Flaire Drip.” On Nightmare, Offset goes off, letting everyone know what he has achieved and challenging other rappers to get on his and the rest of the Migos’ level: “You got a Rolex it outdated (who) / I got your hoe outside, be patient (yeah)/ Back in the Maybach, this ain’t a ‘Rarri, this is the latest Mercedes / Spent two-hundred thousand on my whole rider / Five-hundred k just to play / Open your eyes, your whole face (open that) / I got the Mac today (mac) / Pull up, get whacked today (wack) / Pull up and catch some waves (scurr scurr).”
21 Savage soars as well and continues to prove that he is in the game through tracks like “Run up the Racks” and “My Choppa Hate ******.” He too flaunts his success and continues to demonstrate his ability to spit disturbing lyrics over dark trap beats that create the perfect soundtrack for a late-night party.
While the album proves to be an individual triumph for the likes of all three artists, what is most impressive is the sonic success that the three create when they are together on the same track. “Still Serving” is the epitome of this. Metro Boomin blesses the pair with a beat that perfectly resembles what would happen if Savage Mode and Culture were bred; Offset and 21 capitalize on the opportunity. 21 takes the first verse and, like always, raps slowly and monotone, like a villain from a horror movie. Offset then emerges from the foggy backdrop and comes in to make the song a true hit.
This album awakens the world that this trio is exactly what hip-hop needs, and I hope that we get to see a reunion on the upcoming Culture II from Migos or with a sophomore album.
Peter Buonanno is a freshman in the College of Arts and Sciences. He can be reached at [email protected]