When you think of Halloween, normally you would think of kids dressing up in costumes, bite-sized candy, and haunted houses. This year, Halloween for the music industry was especially great, since one of the year’s best collaborative rap albums came out.
Without Warning by Metro Boomin, 21 Savage, and Offset released late on Halloween night and as the title implies, the album was release with very little to no warning, being announced just the day prior by Epic Records. The album’s main producer Metro Boomin, is one of the rap game’s biggest producers having done loads of work with names like NAV, Drake, Future, and Travis Scott. 21 Savage is a rising star of the rap game, releasing many hits leading up to this one. Comparable to his prior albums Issa Album and Slaughter King. Lastly, Offset is one part of Atlanta’s most influential and popular rap trio known as the Migos, which consists of him, Takeoff, and most prominently, Quavo.
Although the album itself is rather short at only 33 minutes total, that doesn’t mean that it lacks any energy whatsoever. It packs quite the punch without dragging on for over an hour. Andrew Matson of Mass Appeal gave the album a very strong review, stating that “It’s a bit weird to joyfully toast an album that’s so dark, and contains a lot of murder/guns talk. But what’s most apparent here is two artists in love with their art, rapping from gangster/villain points of view.” I believe that Matson’ has a very forceful point here. As a society, we usually grimace upon hearing all the sad news related to murder and mass shootings, but meanwhile, in music, it somehow gets applauded, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing but can seem twisted to some listeners.
When I first looked over the track list for the the album, I was very skeptical about it, partly because 21 Savage and Offset have contrasting rapping styles. 21 is very ruthless and hostile with his music. He often portrays brutal violence and reflects his affiliations with gangs and shootings, whilst Offset is much more ecstatic with his lyrics. Offset seems much more energized and his bars are very well formed with a strong flow. 21’s lyrics are appealing because they speak about real events that he has encountered. The one problem occurring with 21’s rapping is the distinct murmurs and whispers you hear–they often depress and even drain out the song. Offset’s inclusion helps Savage out by filling in the gaps. He offers leadership by making sure it flows well and doesn’t bore the listener.
The album’s opener, “Ghostface Killers,” is an ode to their own status and violent tendencies. They rap in-depth about drugs and being kingpins of their respective groups, as seen in the chorus where Offset says “… trappin’ the cocaine, no gang, shooter with no name.” The song title is a reference to Ghostface Killah, a member of the historic Wu-Tang Clan. Also, a prominent phrase in the song is “21 news gang,” which is also found in the chorus, which basically means if you mess with their crews, you will be targeted by them and ultimately end up on the news, and not in a positive way.
The next song on the album, “Rap Saved Me” features another member of the infamous Migos trio, Quavo. Once again, drugs and money are a heavy influence on the track, but the beat and flow make it my personal favourite. The track length is perfect: each feature gets an even amount of verses, and the style makes this track amazing. On Savage’s part, it sounds mystical and grimy, and as soon as Quavo and Offset’s respective verses come on, there’s the usual upbeat flow that is often associated with them, including their endless adlibs.
The next song is “Ric Flair Drip,” the third best-selling song on the album. The main topic of the song is Offset flaunting his intimidating and everlasting wealth. Offset also pays his respects to WWE Hall of Famer Ric Flair, sampling his trademark shout throughout the track. The flow of the song is noticeably slower than the rest, but while it is on the slower side, that doesn’t mean it lacks any style at all. Although Savage isn’t a feature on the track, Offset does a great job making up for his absence.
This entire album is extraordinary and stands out from the rest. When you get many of the rap game’s biggest artists all together in one place, a lot of magic can happen. The three most notable songs on the album so far have racked up a ton of streams and sales, and without a doubt it will sell more in the coming days and weeks.