Monday, August 28th, 2017

21 Savage – Bank Account

One, two, three, four, five, [6.00] points on the Jukebox…


Alfred Soto: After Playboi Carti spun surreal rhymes using surreal-er emphases under similarly spare circumstances, I expect more from 21 Savage. The hook sits there, waiting for an electrical shock, and the track dissolves. “Somnolent” is not the adjective I would’ve used for him.

Joshua Copperman: The beat is great, and props to 21 for pulling something together that musically stands toe to toe with “No Heart.” Yet beyond that, there’s nothing else special, just a repetitive hook that self-consciously tries to capture a mystique no longer there, and it’s disappointing when there seemed like such possibility with that single. I kind of want to end this with, like, “Young Savage, why you trying so hard?”, but there are just enough interesting things to keep my attention.

Ryo Miyauchi: Probably not the most original idea, but my friends and I like to recite this song’s counting hook but with M replaced by any commonplace item. The fun we find is unintentional, I imagine, considering how grim the details hang around the chorus; the hook itself is a threat as it is a sign of paranoia. But that’s also the experience of a 21 Savage song, where the environment is so hellish, any slight crack of a grin feels like a breath of fresh air.

David Moore: If you’re looking for the 21 Savage track to convince you that you should in any way care about 21 Savage, this probably isn’t it — try “Nothin New,” which is so good that it creates a halo effect around his more generic stuff. Here, I like the plaintive guitar figure and the rubbery bass, and, especially, the grim determination with which 21 Savage will grind through a monotonous chorus (of sorts) until it functions as a mantra (“…in my bank account, in my bank account, in my bank account, in my bank account”). It’s a technique more effective on “Numb,” where he all but coughs up the emotional fallout (“numb the pain with the money numb the pain with the money numb the pain with the money numb the pain with the…”).

Nortey Dowuona: Dec raps, dec 808s, and great sample.

Joshua Minsoo Kim: High school only started last week but there’s already one rapper that I know my students love: 21 Savage. They’ve been inspired to sing the chorus to “Bank Account” when counting off to form small groups, but there have been just as many times that it’s been uttered unprompted. It’s not the best song on Issa Album (that would be “Nothin New,” “Numb,” or “Thug Life“), but it has one of the album’s most memorable hooks. And as a first single, it helps to crystallize 21 Savage’s persona in a new era post-Savage Mode and Drake co-sign. On Savage Mode, 21 Savage adopted a relatively monotonous tone and delivery in order to amplify the grim subject matter of his lyrics. Paired with Metro Boomin’s most lethargic beats, its nine tracks were all-consuming worlds that felt equal parts haunting and dead-eyed. 21 Savage emerges from those hazy nights on Issa Album, but it’s clear that much hasn’t changed. While “Bank Account” is an opportunity for 21 to brag about his Ferrari and YSL jacket, it’s just as much about reminding everyone that he’s the last person you want to mess with. The guitar melody in particular helps to clarify that. It’s sampled from Coleridge-Taylor Perkinson’s “Flashbulbs,” a song from The Education of Sonny Carson. The film chronicles the early life of the titular political activist while touching on the reality of gang violence and police brutality in Brooklyn. Common and Ghostface sampled dialogue from the film as a way to launch into thematically similar lyrics, but 21 goes two steps further: he uses a specific song from the soundtrack, and he subverts the specific intention it had in the film. Halfway through Education, Sonny robs someone and is later found handcuffed, interrogated, and violently beat by police officers. We then see images of mug shots being taken and Sonny standing in a jail cell. “Flashbulbs” starts playing and it’s meant to highlight our deep grieving for the entire situation (Why did Sonny rob someone? He needed money for flowers that he wanted to get for a recently deceased friend). 21 has no time for sadness though, and the guitar’s delicate playing carries with it a teetering anxiety when juxtaposed with a constantly pounding, blown-out kick drum. It’s neither pretty nor calming in this context, and it’s a reminder that 21’s both serious about his threats and very much remorseless. For someone who’s never shied away from emphasizing his authenticity, “Bank Account” makes one thing clear: 21’s fame and success haven’t fazed him.

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