Aside from the frenzied bonanza that usually is Halloween, the fake United States holiday saw something much scarier this year. Already cementing their years with impressive projects, Atlanta rappers 21 Savage and Offset teamed up with Metro Boomin – arguably the hottest hip hop producer today – for Without Warning.
Several days after the release, Complex drafted a feature comparing Without Warning and Kanye/JAY-Z’s Watch the Throne. While it was possibly one of most thickheaded articles ever written by a major music publication (mainly because WWT won’t be touched), Without Warning is easily one of the most dynamic rap projects of 2017.
The super tape is unlike the multi-artist projects we have seen this year – that includes Future & Young Thug’s recently-released Super Slimey, the A$AP MOB tape and the Starlito/Don Trip album. Listen to any song on Without Warning where both Offset and 21 rap. Now tell me: Which of the two rappers was more polarizing? The truth is, it is near impossible to tell.
Many argue that 21 and Offset are currently right at the top of the second tier of rappers, and, after this album, it is quite difficult to refute that. Whether it’s Offset rapping “shoot the maggots with the pump” on the intro’s chorus or 21 channeling his Caribbean roots with “Bitch boy I’m a mobster, shrimp in my pasta/ Jamaican Don Dada, hang ‘round the shottas,” nothing can possibly pull you away from the dolling effects that their styles and bars have on listeners.
Metro Boomin’s sorcery-style production lolls his audience with sliding melodies, evil bells and crushing 808s. On “Ric Flair Drip,” Metro calls onto writer and producer Bijan Amir for this simple, well-paced banger for Offset to surf from woofer to woofer. “Rap Saved Me” features lyrics over an intentionally-half-baked melody, gunshots and sinister adlibs.
Travis Scott and Quavo make quick, yet important appearances on the project. Travis’s “Ghostface Killers” verse is a simple change of pace that adds heightened bad-assery and swagger. Quavo’s delicious humming, “outline chalk” reference and auto-tuned voice on “Rap Saved Me” also provide a refreshing twist.
While every artist wishes to create successful solo projects, sometimes it is easily as sweet to release a mean and artistically cringe-worthy collab such as Without Warning. Migos’ Culture and Savage’s Issa Album are both engaging, but there is something ominous and villainous about Without Warning that is both frightfully blood-rushing and appealing.