ACL Live Review: 21 Savage

A cold-hearted voice relaying intense indecency over trap beats

“I get paid to rap on beats,” Shéyaa Bin Abraham-Joseph gratefully remarks on 2018 single “A Lot.” The 26-year-old trap star known as 21 Savage previously failed to live up to that simple sentiment in concert, but his Saturday night performance during weekend one of ACL Fest 2019 showcased clear improvement.

Photo by Gary Miller

Standing atop a black platform with descending LED-lit stairs on the T-Mobile stage, Slaughter Gang’s Commander-n-Chief rhymed continuously for 47 minutes to the appreciation of a full throng.

A four-minute intro detailing 21’s honest beginnings in East Atlanta led into “Red Opps,” a bass-heavy 2015 breakout track that serves as a proper representative of everything 21 Savage. A remarkably cold-hearted voice that calmly relays images of violence and sexual indecency over trap beats can serve as a blurb for a majority of 21’s work. Except this time, the beat cut off to allow a cappella rhyming – further sign that the 2016 XXL Freshman has outgrown a majority of his contemporaries.

From there, menacingly loud claps (drums) and snares reigned over Zilker Park as the rapper warned potential enemies about his big dog status and desire to spark trouble. It’s clear Young Metro (Boomin) trusts the Saint Laurent don since his production tags constantly reminded attendees of a superproducer-collaborator who owns a great deal of responsibility in the Zone 6 superstar’s success.

To his credit, the usually undemonstrative, dressed in all-black Savage looked engaged and repeatedly got his youthfully exuberant crowd to dance and rhyme along to gritty street tales they wouldn’t dare reenact in the video game Grand Theft Auto. Per typical festival protocol, some concertgoers left early to catch a pixel of Childish Gambino’s set across the field, but 21 Savage put on a simple, entertaining show.

21 Savage

Saturday, Oct. 5, 7:00pm, T-Mobile stage

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