“Issa Album” sounds too familiar. It’s disappointing to listen to a record that can’t separate itself from the herds of new rappers. Then again, who knows. The volume of trap artists could potentially be important in helping rap evolve its sound.
Perhaps it would be too harsh to say that this album is a waste of time, but I cannot say that it was time well spent in good faith. “Issa Album” is something of a Future knock off. To be just another mumble rapper riding off Future’s coattail’s is inconsequential, but to borrow his signature auto-tune effect and to hold some of the same producers in common (Metro Boomin) makes this album a Future clone. Based off his own heated reaction to other rappers using stage names like his own, one would think 21 Savage has a commitment to originality, unfortunately he seems to be a relentless hypocrite.
This album lacks any truly interesting qualities. Neither the lyrics nor the production are anything to fuss about. Sure, there are several cool beats, such as “7 Minute Freestyle”, but they lack dynamics. In other words, you won’t find any slick beat changes like the ones Kendrick Lamar often pulls off. The lyrics scarcely leave the subjects of wealth, fame, cars, and trapping. They’re boring. When 21 Savage does switch things up just a bit on tracks like “Face Time” and “Special”, he goes uncharacteristically soft and talks about feelings and girl problems the way a bad Drake song might. In fact, his vocal style intentionally emulates that of Drake on those two tracks. Not for a single moment does this feel like an intelligent album, and this is largely the fault of the ceaseless hype track. The “skrrt”’s and the “21 21 21 21”’s get annoying very quickly, although I’m hesitant to say that they take away from the album. Without the excessive hype, 21’s rapping would be as awkward as a sit-com without a laugh track.
A track by track analysis of this album would not be useful to anyone. “Issa Album” is too consistent all the way through for such, and that trait is certainly a liability given its length. Had 21 Savage kept it a track or two shorter it would have felt less of a chore to listen through. The time could have been cut down by trimming the repetitive hooks in songs like “Bank Account” and limiting Metro’s unnecessary watermarks. Frankly, there are too many skilled hip-hop artists to listen to unexceptional stuff like this.
Album Review by Zach Norton, July 2017