I Am Greater Than I Was

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I Am > I Was
21 Savage – I Am Greater Than I Was.png
Studio album by
ReleasedDecember 21, 2018 (2018-12-21)
Length54:54
Label
Producer
21 Savage chronology
Without Warning
(2017)
I Am > I Was
(2018)
Singles from I Am > I Was
  1. "A Lot"
    Released: January 8, 2019

I Am > I Was (stylized in lowercase and pronounced I Am Greater Than I Was) is the second studio album by American rapper 21 Savage, released on December 21, 2018.[1] I Am > I Was features vocals by J. Cole, Childish Gambino, Schoolboy Q, Post Malone, Offset, Lil Baby, Gunna, and Travis Scott, among others.[2] The album is supported by the lead single, "A Lot".

Background[edit]

21 Savage tweeted "12-7-18" in November, which led to speculation that the album would be released on that date.[1] The tracklist was leaked by record producer Louis Bell via his Instagram story on December 13, 2018.[2] 21 Savage later stated in his Instagram story that he was "sorry" because he "forgot" to release the album, but a later video stated it would be released on December 21.[3]

Cover art[edit]

21 Savage posted the cover art on Instagram on December 6, which features a blurred out image of himself, captioning the image with a number of goat emojis.[1] Billboard called the cover art "cryptic".[4]

Singles[edit]

The album's lead single, "A Lot", was released to rhythmic and urban contemporary radio on January 8, 2019.[5][6]

Critical reception[edit]

Professional ratings
Aggregate scores
SourceRating
Metacritic81/100[7]
Review scores
SourceRating
Consequence of SoundB−[8]
The Guardian4/5 stars[9]
Highsnobiety4.5/5.0[10]
HipHopDX4.2/5[11]
HotNewHipHop88%[12]
Pitchfork7.8/10[13]

At Metacritic, which assigns a normalized rating out of 100 to reviews from mainstream publications, I Am > I Was received an average score of 81, based on six reviews, indicating "universal acclaim".[7] Reviewing the album for Variety, A. D. Amorosi stated "Despite all the high-profile guests, it's actually on the soulfully inventive "Ball w/o You", "Gun Smoke" and the sensual "Out for the Night"—which all feature 21 Savage on his own—that "i am > i was" is at its best and most dynamic."[14] Eric Diep of HipHopDX said, "At 15 songs and 51 minutes long, it's an enjoyable listen with good pacing, filled with the right amount of vulnerability, heartache, menace, and savagery."[11] Ben Beaumont-Thomas of The Guardian saying "There is a slight uptick in vocal musicality compared with his previous work. ... He has plenty of average lines—almost as offensive as the rightly controversial "Jewish money" lyric in ASMR is the weakness of "you get burned like toast" as a simile—but his catchy flows always make him magnetic, especially when paired with universally brilliant production from Metro Boomin, Kid Hazel and others."[9]

Paul A. Thompson from Pitchfork stated, "i am > i was shatters the notion of 21 Savage as a specialist with a narrow purview and audience, and recasts him as a star in waiting, all without forcing him into unflattering contortions. It also cements him as a far more original stylist than other hopefuls from Atlanta."[13] Consequence of Sound critic Michael Pementel said, "21 Savage's ability to express a variety of feelings allows the music to stand out at times and become more than a generic gangsta rap presentation. It's unfortunate, then, that the record finds itself held back by unfeeling and monotonous takes on issues like gun violence. Overall, i am > i was is a mixed bag of experience that offers enough solid tracks to keep fans latched on."[8]

Commercial performance[edit]

I Am > I Was debuted at number one on the US Billboard 200 in the first chart issue of 2019, earning 131,000 album-equivalent units (including 18,000 pure album sales), becoming 21 Savage's first US number-one album.[15] The album remained at number one for a second week, earning 65,000 units, down 51 percent from its debut week.[16] In its third week, the album fell down to number two with 56,000 units (down 14 percent). A Boogie wit da Hoodie's Hoodie SZN surpassed him with 58,000 equivalent album units in the United States in the week ending January 10, 2019.[17]

Following the release of I Am > I Was, nine songs debuted on the US Billboard Hot 100. It was led by "A Lot", which peaked at number 33 in its third week.[18]

Track listing[edit]

Credits adapted from Tidal.[19]

No.TitleWriter(s)Producer(s)Length
1."A Lot"
4:48
2."Break Da Law"2:57
3."A&T"FKi 1st3:32
4."Out for the Night"
Kid Hazel2:17
5."Gun Smoke"
  • Joseph
  • Bailey
  • Frederikus van Workum
  • Nicholas Luscombe
  • Kid Hazel
  • Freek Van Workum
  • ItsNicklus
2:47
6."1.5"
2:28
7."All My Friends"
Bell3:31
8."Can't Leave Without It"
3:25
9."ASMR"
  • Joseph
  • Wayne
  • Bailey
  • Metro Boomin
  • Kid Hazel
2:51
10."Ball w/o You"
TM883:15
11."Good Day"
4:02
12."Pad Lock"
  • Joseph
  • Bailey
  • van Workum
  • Luscombe
  • Kid Hazel
  • Freek Van Workum
  • ItsNicklus
3:11
13."Monster"
  • DJ Dahi
  • Axlfolie
  • Dave Sava6e
  • Tiggi
3:53
14."Letter 2 My Momma"
  • Joseph
  • Bailey
Kid Hazel3:14
15."4L"
  • Joseph
  • Quantavious Thomas
  • Roshwita Bacha
  • Bailey
  • Roselilah
  • Kid Hazel
4:48
Total length:50:59

Notes

  • ^[a] signifies a co-producer
  • ^[b] signifies an uncredited co-producer[20]
  • All tracks are stylized in lowercase
  • Streaming and digital versions of "A Lot" features vocals by J. Cole[21]
  • "A&T" features vocals by City Girls
  • "1.5" features vocals by Offset
  • "All My Friends" features vocals by Post Malone
  • "Can't Leave Without It" features vocals by Lil Baby and Gunna
  • "Good Day" features vocals by Schoolboy Q and Project Pat
  • "Monster" features vocals by Childish Gambino, Braylen Green, Mario Ricks, Jr., Hattori Williams, and Peyton Eleazor
  • "4L" features vocals by Young Nudy
  • "Out for the Night, Pt. 2" features vocals by Travis Scott

Sample credits

Personnel[edit]

Credits adapted from Tidal.[19]

Instrumentation

  • Einer Bankz – guitar (tracks 4, 16)
  • Darnell Stoxstell – bass (track 14)

Technical

  • Mac Attkisson – recording (tracks 1–9, 11–16), mixing (tracks 10, 12, 15)
  • Deyvid Ford – recording (track 10)
  • Riley Mackin – recording (track 13)
  • Young Nudy – recording (track 15)
  • Maddox "MaddMix" Chhim – mixing (tracks 1, 3–6, 8, 11, 13, 14, 16)
  • Ethan Stevens – mixing (tracks 2, 9)
  • Louis Bell – mixing (track 7), recording (track 7)
  • Colin Leonard – mastering (all tracks)

Charts[edit]

Chart (2018–19) Peak
position
Australian Albums (ARIA)[24] 30
Austrian Albums (Ö3 Austria)[25] 56
Belgian Albums (Ultratop Flanders)[26] 42
Belgian Albums (Ultratop Wallonia)[27] 93
Canadian Albums (Billboard)[28] 3
Danish Albums (Hitlisten)[29] 10
Dutch Albums (MegaCharts)[30] 5
Finnish Albums (Suomen virallinen lista)[31] 20
French Albums (SNEP)[32] 72
German Albums (Offizielle Top 100)[33] 87
Irish Albums (IRMA)[34] 30
New Zealand Albums (RMNZ)[35] 23
Norwegian Albums (VG-lista)[36] 7
Swedish Albums (Sverigetopplistan)[37] 13
Swiss Albums (Schweizer Hitparade)[38] 33
UK Albums (OCC)[39] 33
US Billboard 200[40] 1
US Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums (Billboard)[41] 1
US Top Rap Albums (Billboard)[42] 1

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c Haffenden, Dayna (December 6, 2018). "21 Savage Unveils Title and Cover Art for New Album". XXL. Retrieved December 9, 2018.
  2. ^ a b Walker, Joe (December 13, 2018). "21 Savage Taps J. Cole, Childish Gambino, ScHoolboy Q, More for 'I AM > I WAS' Tracklist". OnSMASH. Retrieved December 19, 2018.
  3. ^ Maicki, Salvatore (December 7, 2018). "21 Savage says new album I Am > I Was will drop December 21". The Fader. Retrieved December 9, 2018.
  4. ^ Saponara, Michael (December 6, 2018). "21 Savage Shares Artwork & Title to New Album 'I Am > I Was'". Billboard. Retrieved December 9, 2018.
  5. ^ "Top 40 Rhythmic Future Releases". All Access. Archived from the original on January 6, 2019. Retrieved January 6, 2019.
  6. ^ "Urban/UAC Future Releases". All Access. Archived from the original on January 6, 2019. Retrieved January 6, 2019.
  7. ^ a b "I Am > I Was by 21 Savage Reviews and Tracks". Metacritic. Retrieved January 2, 2019.
  8. ^ a b Pementel, Michael (December 25, 2018). "21 Savage – I Am > I Was". Consequence of Sound. Retrieved January 2, 2019.
  9. ^ a b Beaumont-Thomas, Ben (January 4, 2019). "21 Savage: I Am > I Was review – girls, guns and introspective angst". The Guardian. Retrieved January 5, 2019.
  10. ^ Alston, Trey (January 9, 2019). "21 Savage — 'I Am > I Was' Review". Highsnobiety. Retrieved January 10, 2019.
  11. ^ a b Diep, Eric (December 23, 2018). "21 Savage I Am > I Was Album Review". HipHopDX. Retrieved January 2, 2019.
  12. ^ Ch, Devin (December 27, 2018). "21 Savage "I Am > I Was" Review". HotNewHipHop. Retrieved January 2, 2019.
  13. ^ a b Thompson, Paul A. (January 2, 2019). "21 Savage: I Am > I Was Album Review". Pitchfork. Retrieved January 2, 2019.
  14. ^ Amorosi, A. D. (December 21, 2018). "Album Review: 21 Savage's 'i am > i was'". Variety. Retrieved January 2, 2019.
  15. ^ Caulfield, Keith (December 30, 2018). "21 Savage's 'I Am > I Was' Album Debuts at No. 1 on Billboard 200 Chart". Billboard. Retrieved December 31, 2018.
  16. ^ Caulfield, Keith (January 6, 2019). "21 Savage Spends Second Week at No. 1 on Billboard 200 Albums Chart With 'I Am > I Was'". Billboard. Retrieved January 7, 2019.
  17. ^ "A Boogie Wit Da Hoodie Scores First No. 1 on Billboard 200 Albums Chart With 'Hoodie SZN'". Billboard. Retrieved January 17, 2019.
  18. ^ "21 Savage Chart History: Hot 100". Billboard. Retrieved January 7, 2019.
  19. ^ a b "i am > i was (Deluxe) / 21 Savage – TIDAL". Tidal. Retrieved December 25, 2018.
  20. ^ Cowen, Trace William (December 24, 2018). "21 Savage Adds Travis Scott to "Out for the Night"". Complex. Retrieved December 31, 2018.
  21. ^ Coleman II, C. Vernon (January 1, 2019). "J. Cole Does Not Appear on CD Version of 21 Savage's "A Lot"". XXL. Retrieved January 2, 2019.
  22. ^ Burney, Lawrence (December 21, 2018). "21 Savage and J Cole's "a lot" is the cross-generational exchange rap needs". The Fader. Retrieved December 22, 2018.
  23. ^ Rindner, Grant (December 31, 2018). "How Viral Ukulele Guy Einer Bankz Ended Up on 21 Savage's Album With Travis Scott". Complex. Retrieved December 31, 2018.
  24. ^ "ARIA Australian Top 50 Albums". Australian Recording Industry Association. January 7, 2019. Retrieved January 5, 2019.
  25. ^ "Austriancharts.at – 21 Savage – I Am %3E I Was" (in German). Hung Medien. Retrieved January 10, 2019.
  26. ^ "Ultratop.be – 21 Savage – I Am %3E I Was" (in Dutch). Hung Medien. Retrieved December 29, 2018.
  27. ^ "Ultratop.be – 21 Savage – I Am %3E I Was" (in French). Hung Medien. Retrieved December 29, 2018.
  28. ^ "21 Savage Chart History (Canadian Albums)". Billboard. Retrieved January 1, 2019.
  29. ^ "Hitlisten.NU – Album Top-40 Uge 52, 2018". Hitlisten. Retrieved January 2, 2019.
  30. ^ "Dutchcharts.nl – 21 Savage – I Am %3E I Was" (in Dutch). Hung Medien. Retrieved December 29, 2018.
  31. ^ "21 Savage: I Am>I Was" (in Finnish). Musiikkituottajat – IFPI Finland. Retrieved January 6, 2019.
  32. ^ >I+Was&cat=a "Lescharts.com – 21 Savage – I Am>I Was". Hung Medien. Retrieved January 6, 2019.
  33. ^ "Offiziellecharts.de – 21 Savage – I Am > I Was" (in German). GfK Entertainment Charts. Retrieved January 4, 2019.
  34. ^ "Irish Albums Chart: 28 December 2018". Irish Recorded Music Association. Retrieved December 29, 2018.
  35. ^ "NZ Top 40 Albums Chart". Recorded Music NZ. January 7, 2019. Retrieved January 4, 2019.
  36. ^ "VG-lista – Topp 40 Album uke 52, 2018". VG-lista. Retrieved December 29, 2018.
  37. ^ "Sverigetopplistan – Sveriges Officiella Topplista". Sverigetopplistan. Retrieved December 28, 2018. Click on "Veckans albumlista".
  38. ^ "Swisscharts.com – 21 Savage – I Am %3E I Was". Hung Medien. Retrieved January 2, 2019.
  39. ^ "Official Albums Chart Top 100". Official Charts Company. Retrieved December 29, 2018.
  40. ^ "21 Savage Chart History (Billboard 200)". Billboard. Retrieved January 5, 2017.
  41. ^ "21 Savage Chart History (Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums)". Billboard. Retrieved January 5, 2017.
  42. ^ "21 Savage Chart History (Top Rap Albums)". Billboard. Retrieved January 5, 2017.