22 Savage is a rising star from Baton Rouge, Louisiana, who came up as an Instagram comedian before turning his attention to rapping. He recently released his debut mixtape Nothing 2 Live 4, an articulate and thoughtful collection of songs that ranks among the best tapes of the year so far. Having recently switched his moniker to Young 22, the artist, whose given name is Macarthur Johnson, demands that you take him seriously: he’s currently facing charges of second-degree murder.
The mixtape opens with “Ain’t No 21,” a diss track leveled at an Atlanta rapper with a similar name. With a catchy hook and driving production, this song introduces 22 to the world in style. He varies his flows and delivery throughout, showcasing technical ability and a keen ear for internal rhyme schemes. One of my favorite lines is “I’ll take ten grams then I stretch it like it’s latex,” a humorous and inspired riff on the common theme of dope dealing. Given that 22 is no stranger to catching bodies, it’s safe to assume he speaks from experience.
“Jumpin’” will stand out to most as one of the mixtape’s biggest hits. Indeed, this was the song that boosted 22 into the spotlight, following his debut “No Heart.” One of my personal favorites, however, is “Airplane Mode,” a song about not wanting to be contacted by certain people, something we’ve all experienced from time to time. “Just leave me along,” raps 22; “I don’t wanna be bothered.”
Other standouts include “Hit That 22,” “Pay For It,” and “Dear X,” the latter owing a small debt to 6Lack for starting the recent wave of rap songs about ex-girlfriends, thanks to the highly successful “Ex Calling.” At this point, Nothing 2 Live 4 has seen a lot of play from me, and I doubt it’s one I’ll grow tired of soon. There’s no telling what the future holds for Young 22, but he’s already put his name in the books with this debut mixtape. Download it here.