Since his emergence onto the rap scene in 2016, Atlanta rapper 21 Savage has proved he can share the mic with nearly anyone. He’s been featured on hits with Tyler the Creator, King Von, Lil Baby and even pop DJ Calvin Harris. The list of artists he’s worked with goes on and on, but the rapper he’s had the most success with is Drake.
The duo hopped in the studio for the first time in 2016 with the menacing “Sneakin.” They followed that up with hit songs “Mr. Right Now,” “Knife Talk,” and arguably the song of 2022 “Jimmy Cooks.”
It made perfect sense for the duo to venture away from teaming up for singles, and drop an album together. “Her Loss,” a 16-song project headlined by beats from the likes of Metro Boomin and Tay Kieth, is Drake and 21 Savage’s first collaboration album.
In the middle of one of the best hot streaks of his career, 21 Savage looks to “Her Loss” to keep him rolling in the right direction while Drake is hoping to get back on his fans’ good side after his summer album received heavy criticism. The timing of this project’s release made sense in theory, but in reality it hasn’t panned out like Drake may have hoped. The Canadian rapper has been scrambling to make a comeback after his summer album, “Honestly, Nevermind,” flopped back in June of this year. To Drake’s surprise, fans of the OVO rapper never caught onto his whiney voice over house beats.
21 Savage, who’s been untouchable since his 2020 album “Savage Mode II,” is in a completely different stage of his career than Drake. The Atlanta rapper has used the last two years to solidify himself as one of the most consistent rappers in the game — both as a solo and feature artist.
It’s evident on “Her Loss,” that the artists are there for different reasons. 21 sounds comfortable and confident; he’s really only there to move himself further up the rap hierarchy. What’s so beautiful about his verses throughout the project is that you can sense this confidence, but he isn’t so cocky that it makes you roll your eyes and fast-forward.
Drake, on the other hand, knows it’s make or break for him on this album. His recent songs have been forgettable, but that’s what happens when you’d rather see your songs be turned into TikTok trends instead of becoming critically acclaimed.
On “Her Loss” Drake gives fans snippets of his vintage self, while still being unwilling to ditch the newer, edgier Drake we’ve come to know in recent years. His word play is some of the best I’ve heard from him in a while, but in the same breath there are moments where he won’t let 21 get a verse in.
Drake’s tendency to rap over 21 at any given moment may have come after 21 was undeniably the better rapper on their last song together, “Jimmy Cooks.” You can almost picture Drake in the studio, fighting back tears, as he shortens all of 21’s verses to make sure he doesn’t get out-rapped on back to back occasions. Too bad he still was, and that’s with the Atlanta rapper’s verses on “Treacherous Twins,” and “Broke Boys” being far too short.
There are two types of confidence found in the album; a level headed confidence from 21, and an ignorant swagger from Drake. For every brilliant verse on “Her Loss,” Drake manages to include an equally foolish one.
He had Twitter buzzing with bars taking shots at Megan Thee Stallion, Ice Spice, Dram, and even Serena Williams’ husband. The insults are tasteless, and definitely had “Her Loss” on everyones’ mind, but for all the wrong reasons.
The petty insults began in “BackOutsideBoyz,” the first song on the album that only included Drake. Drizzy must have seen 21’s absence as his chance to get some things off his chest, and he wasted no time throwing shade at Dram.
Back in 2016, Dram called Drake out after his song “Hotline Bling” sounded like a knockoff version of Dram’s hit song “CHA CHA.” At the time, Drake brushed it off and even acknowledged he may have used Dram’s flow as inspiration for “Hotline Bling.” It’s been six years since the incident, and Drake is still holding a grudge — one that should have been let go years ago.
“She a ten tryna rap, it’s good on mute.” Just a few verses after shading Dram, Drake hits listeners with another diss on breakout rapper, Ice Spice. The bar is even more petty than his shot at Dram, and makes it clear Drake has his mind set on “Her Loss” being so outlandish it becomes the talk of Twitter. It’s simply inappropriate that he has to comment on the female rapper’s looks, basically saying she can’t rap, but “hey, at least she’s hot.”
Drake partially steps out of the spotlight during the middle of the album and we get some insane verses from 21 on “Treacherous Twins” and “Spin Bout U,” but it always feels like they are cut short by Drake. Regardless, there is a nice stretch of songs after Drake’s controversial comments on “BackOutsideBoyz.”
It was only a matter of time before Drake wouldn’t be able to contain himself and looked to sneak in another diss. This time though, the insult was far less subtle and even more unnecessary than the first two.
“This b***h lie ‘bout gettin’ shots, but she a stallion,” then later rapping “Shorty say she graduated, she ain’t learned enough.” From someone who is supposed to be one of the faces of rap, the shots Drake takes at Megan Thee Stallion are petty, misogynistic and downright sad.
I was distracted the rest of the album, trying to understand where Drake could have been coming from with those verses aimed at rap’s top female rapper. Not to mention, when you consider how mellow 21 seems on the whole album, it shows just how immature Drake appears on “Her Loss.”
I don’t want Drake’s theatrics to completely ruin this project though. 21 is brilliant on this album and his performance has fans begging for more from him. The beats are all unique and carefully crafted, with some crazy transitions to keep listeners on their toes.
If you can get past Drizzy’s tasteless comments, the album is arguably top 10 of the year. The immaturity from one of music’s greats is distracting, but there’s still a lot to applaud. It’d be a shame if Drake’s antics kept fans and critics alike from giving 21 the praise he deserves.
Written By: Nick Hancock