2016 has been a breakout year for Atlanta rapper 21 Savage, going from relative obscurity to the cover of the XXL Freshman issue and a joint EP with buzzing producer Metro Boomin. Savage Mode is our early pick for mixtape of the year, and one of the driving forces behind that choice is the emcee’s ability to deliver such hard-hitting lyrics in a seemingly distant and disinterested tone. 21 describes scenes of extreme violence and despair, with himself in the driver seat, as if they were so commonplace to him that he can’t even be bothered to be affected emotionally.
Of all the new school rappers, 21’s songs might be the most fun to rap along to; who hasn’t shouted “Slaughter gang shit, murder gang shit,” when the bass drops in on the booming Sonny Digital production “Red Opps”? So here at Local Savage, we decided to compile a list of 21’s most savage lines to quote to your friends and scream along to during long car rides when you get passed the AUX cord.
10. “I just bought a pistol it got thirty rounds in it / Pull up at your mama house and put some rounds in it”
Here we’re introduced to a casual description of a brand new firearm, until the twist is revealed: this gun isn’t going to be used to show off, it’s going to be used in a drive-by shooting that could quite possibly kill some members of the listener’s close family.
9. “I’ll slaughter your daughter then send her to church”
Throughout the course of his debut, The Slaughter Tape, 21 switches back and forth between definitions of the word “slaughter.” Here, he intends it to mean sex, which adds to his persona of moral ambiguity when he states that he will send the listener’s daughter (to whom he is presumably not married) to a place of God immediately after copulating with her.
8. “Fuck a wedding ring, I bought a necklace”
21’s girl presumably is expecting him to propose, considering he’s been smashing her for a while and he’s getting money now. However, he cares so little about her that he’s not even going to put a small dent in his bank account to purchase a wedding ring; he’s going to get himself a shiny new necklace instead.
7. “Hit the club and get to squeezin’, shoot it up for no reason”
When most people go to the club, they are interested in having a few drinks and dancing with members of the opposite sex. 21’s mind functions in an entirely different way, as he sees the large crowd of people gathered in such a small space as perfect target practice and an opportunity to quench his apparent thirst for blood. This line is in especially bad taste considering the Miami nightclub shootings earlier this year, but to 21’s credit the song was released before that tragedy occurred.
6. “Stray bullets hittin’ kids while they playin’ hopscotch”
This line is included in the list not so much for its content but for its delivery. It is an awful thing for innocent young bystanders to be killed in the aftermath of a gang shooting, but 21 says it so coldly and with so little emotion that one can imagine it is something he sees almost daily.
5. “I’ma sit in front the judge and tell a damn lie”
As we all know, it is a felony to lie to a federal judge. However, 21 Savage eats petty felonies like that for breakfast and shits out triple murder charges, so it stands to reason that he wouldn’t be phased by misguiding a member of the court.
4. “All my niggas pull up on the scene in that motherfucker bloody / Leave a pussy nigga whacked”
Holy shit, now we are really getting into the extremely dark side of 21’s lyrical content. Get this: not only does he himself look like some kind of soulless hell demon, but he rolls around with a crew that is constantly drenched in blood because they butcher human beings like they are swine. 21 has converted these men into some sort of hive-minded murder squad, whose only objective is to ruthlessly slaughter whoever he points his finger at.
3. “Pull up in your trap niggas scatter like roaches / All my close friends drug dealers and vultures”
This entry expands on the previous lyric mentioned in our list. 21 not only surrounds himself with heartless murderers, but also those who are willing to peddle drugs in impoverished communities and steal from dead bodies. Also, he is so feared and respected in the streets that as soon as people see his car they basically jump into the bushes and hope that they won’t be the next victim of the rapper’s seemingly endless spree of homicides.
2. “Bitch thought she a Porsche, had to give the ho an abortion”
Jesus Christ, does this man not have a conscience? This female, who one assumes must be a major factor in 21’s life, thought she was so important to him that she was like a Porsche, an extremely valuable item. Instead, he cares so little about this woman that he copulates with her while not wearing a condom, and when she gets pregnant, he personally gives her an abortion. By the next line, 21 is already back in his car, driving drunk and swerving all over the highway while presumably covered in blood from the amateur medical procedure he just performed on a woman who thought he loved her.
1. “Y’all pussy niggas fakin’, bitch I hang around them Haitians / Pull up on you, tie your kids up, pistol whip you while your bitch naked”
If there is one thing 21 Savage hates, it’s people who pretend to be fans of his music and then sneak diss him on social media. It seems he has finally had enough, and in a feat typical to his unique brand of psychopathy, he somehow manages to get an entire family into some sort of hostage situation single-handedly. The imagery is vivid here, as the listener can almost hear the fake fan’s kids’ muffled screams and his lover’s cries for mercy as 21 repeatedly pistol whips him in the face until it is nothing more than a purple mess of bruised flesh and bone. 21 feels no remorse for this action, and in fact feels like it was justified, as the respect of his peers is more important to him than showing clemency to another human being.