Album Review: american Dream


Artist: 21 Savage

Review by Nishka Mishra

British-American rapper 21 Savage released his third studio album american dream on January 12 to immense mainstream success. The album will serve as a soundtrack for a biopic about the rapper releasing in July of this year. 

american dream follows the struggles the rapper has faced to achieve the “american dream”. It follows through with these themes that explore his childhood and his identity as the rapper globally known today. 

The tracklist starts out with 21’s mother outlining her own challenges and her aspirations for her son. In this spoken word intro, the rapper’s mother lovingly describes her sacrifices and the choices she made in order for her son to “live free in his American dream.” The track is a sweet opener to the album, smoothly leading into the catchy “all of me”.

Doja Cat’s feature on “n.h.i.e” revived what would otherwise have been a less notable track. Her hushed vocals and snarky ad-libs provided a bit of levity when paired with 21’s signature monotonous delivery.

“dangerous,” however, overstays its almost four minute runtime. Sandwiched between the touching “letter to my brudda” and sharp rhymes of “née-nah,” the track fails to hold its own against some of the better songs on the album. 

The standout track on american dream is the gloriously grimy “redrum”. Opening with a lushly melodic sample from Elza Laranjeira’s “Serenata do Adeus,” the song has a unsettling atmosphere through its stark contrast with 21’s brutal depictions of violence and allusions to the 1980 horror classic The Shining, the source for the song’s catchy chorus. Savage’s unapologetic violence paints a vulgar, yet exhilarating picture of the gang activities that marked his youth.

“dark days” is an emotional close to the album, diving deeper into Savage’s psyche as he enjoys the mainstream fame he’s been chasing throughout the album. The track is Savage at his most vulnerable, beneath the strong facade showcased in the rest of the album he “still cr[ies] when nobody [is] around.” 

Despite its flaws, american dream is an entertaining and thoughtful journey through the life of one of the best-known rappers today. 
Full of catchy hooks and infectious choruses, american dream is an entertaining and thoughtful journey through the life of one of the best-known rappers today. The album has further cemented 21’s status as an irreplaceable figure in the rap world.