ATLANTA UNTRAPPED: Southern hip-hop old and new shines brighter than ever
21 Savage, Offset, and Metro Boomin' dropped a new album 'Without Warning,' and the Dungeon Family still rules
Courtesy Epic Records
It turns out Offset's surprise proposal to rapper Cardi B during a Philadelphia concert earlier this week wasn't the only surprise the Migos rapper had up his sleeve.The North Atlanta rapper teamed up with 21 Savage and Metro Boomin for a surprise album, Without Warning, which released on Halloween.
21 Savage and Metro Boomin have collaborated before, notably on Savage's debut EP, Savage Mode, and Offset has made hits both as one-third of Migos ("Bad and Boujee") and as a solo artist working alongside artists such as Metro Boomin and Drake ("No Complaints"). Although fans only got a few hours notice before the project was released, expectations for Without Warning were understandably high.
Released over the summer, Savage's debut, Issa Album, included the infectious lead single "Bank Account," which became Savage's first top 20 hit on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. Months later, the rapper scored another hit, this time reaching the top of the chart thanks to a feature on Post Malone's "Rockstar."
While the studio album was a solid effort from Savage, it was definitely a lighter affair than Savage Mode. Songs such as "Special" and "FaceTime" found him rapping about being smitten and "Bank Account" offered the rapper's most radio-friendly hook to date.
Issa Album no-doubt helped Savage crossover and gain a few new fans, but Without Warning finds the pair returning to the ruthless world depicted on Savage Mode. On a mission to prove that he can hold his own as a solo artist after a string of noteworthy features, Offset proves to be a worthy collaborator. Like Future and Young Thug's latest collaborative album Super Slimey, Without Warning doesn't offer the best from Savage or Offset, but it does deliver standout tracks such as the opening track "Ghostface Killers," the Quavo-assisted "Rap Saved Me" and "Ric Flair Drip."
If nothing else, the two Atlanta rappers dropping Without Warning on Halloween is a warning to others that their commercial appeal won't affect their authenticity. Infiltrators should be afraid.
Hours before Without Warning was released, I was busy reflecting on another Atlanta hip-hop era.
Sitting in the balcony at the Buckhead Theatre, I watched as Rico Wade paced the stage asking the live band if they knew how to play Backbone's "5 Duce-4 Tre."
Various members of the Dungeon Family stood around on the stage awaiting the answer. Wade wasn't ready for the impromptu reunion to end. They needed to perform one more song.
The band never played the song. Instead, the audience heard a familiar piano loop and Goodie Mob's Khujo rapped the opening line to the group's breakout single "Cell Therapy." By the time CeeLo delivered the hook, "Who's that peeking in my window?/POW nobody now," the entire crowd was singing along.
This was an Atlanta concert hosted by the Dungeon Family. Most of the people in attendance probably thought there would be some sort of surprise, but the ending of Organized Noize's "This is Yoga" show was truly magical.
What made this ending magical was the contagious excitement felt by both the artists and the audience, and the spontaneity of it all. This was clearly not a planned reunion. A group of old friends felt like reliving their glory days, so they did. For a few short minutes, both the artists and fans were able to revisit an era where a group of young men from Atlanta forced the world to take notice.
Sponsored by Lululemon as a part of the athletic apparel line's "Beats Per Moment" tour, the show featured a DJ set from Organized Noize's Ray Murray and a set from Sleepy Brown. Rico Wade was on hand to emcee.
The show kicked off with Murray DJing, playing new releases from artist such as CeeLo that he says could appear on the forthcoming Organized Noize album. Then, Sleepy Brown took the stage. Performing songs such as Outkast's "Crumblin' Erb" and solo numbers such as "I Can't Wait" and "Still Smokin'," Brown showcased the timelessness of some of his most popular hooks and album cuts. It was his surprise guest that helped make this a memorable set, though.
Towards the end of his set, Brown was joined onstage by his father, Jimmy Brown. The Brick member performed "Dazz," demonstrating his sax and flute skills before hopping across the stage on one foot in sync with his son.
Before the night would end, Organized Noize would be joined on stage by Big Boi, CeeLo, Kuhjo, and other members of the Dungeon Family, performing "The Way You Move."
New York lyricist Talib Kweli performs two back-to-back concerts at City Winery Nov. 3, taking fans on a journey of his discography that spans decades. Also on Nov. 3, Allen Thomas & the Family Orchestra headlines at the Drunken Unicorn.
SILENT "TRAP" PARTY ATL: The concept of a silent party involves attendees donning a pair of wireless headphones that allow them to customize their party experience by toggling between up to three DJs. Flip between several channels of trap music at Warehouse (285 Auburn Ave.) Nov. 4.
Jewel Wicker is an Atlanta native and award-winning freelance reporter who has been covering the music industry and hip-hop in Atlanta since she was a college student at Georgia State University. In her spare time, she loves to eat lemon pepper wings and debate the validity of your favorite artists.