One thing is for sure about about 23-year-old Atlanta rapper 21 Savage — he is definitely an acquired taste. The low key flow and nonchalant delivery can be grating to the uninitiated, but he’s also garnered a huge fan base, so a lot of people are enjoying his music and I’m guessing the Metro Boomin’ beats don’t hurt.
So when 21 walked on stage at the BET Hip Hop Awards in his hometown of Atlanta between performances from the always energetic Lil Uzi Vert and Isaiah Rashad he did seem a tad out of place, especially for those unfamiliar with his style. The same mellow, lackadaisical energy he displays on tracks definitely transferred over to his stage presence. On his mixtape with Metro Savage Mode, that aloofness comes off as charismatic, and his quips and one-liners can be humorous and interesting even delivered half-heartedly. On stage though, it wasn’t quite the same as he slowly sauntered around the stage, calmly delivering his verses and hook from the track “X Bitch” with Future.
He wasn’t bad, per se, but next to the lively display of activity from Isaiah and Uzi — who danced around during 21’s performance — it was at least a change of pace. It’ll be interesting to see how his live show develops during his tour with Young Thug this fall, but I’m guessing it’ll play better for a crowd that’s there to see him specifically and not an entire award show.
In the end, the performance was all the fuel 21’s many detractors needed online to get the jokes and critiques going and he eventually got wind of it and was not amused.
Now, “Hey I have more money than you” is a constant rebuttal for rappers and a an easily refuted one at that, but 21’s manager had a response that was more succinct and brings up a good point:
Whatever your thoughts are on Mr. “It’s A Knife” and his music, it’s hard to argue that what he’s accomplished is remarkable. Whether he meets the same old head standards for “Good Rap” — or what that even encompasses in 2016 — is an argument for another day, but whatever Savage is doing, it’s working. At 23, he’s achieved a lot in a short time and has plenty of room to improve and add to his growing list of accomplishments. Like Snoop Dogg said during his acceptance speech for the show’s I Am Hip Hop award, don’t be “a old bitter rapper that’s mad because the young MCs is having it.”
To put it briefly, let 21 Savage cook, and if you don’t like him go listen to something you like because there’s more than enough music for everybody to enjoy.