Review Summary: Sinister, hypnotic, and masterfully concise, Without Warning is one of trap’s great triumphs.
Despite its status as the most ubiquitous sound of the 2010s, so-called “trap rap” has long faced derision as a low-effort, artless bastardization of hip hop’s proud lineage. And, though such criticism tends to overemphasize the exploits of easy targets like Lil Pump and his ilk, it’s undeniable that the genre’s lyrics are often content to merely float atop a bed of mellow keys and clicking hi-hats.
, for better or worse, makes little effort to shy away from the violent, cliched braggadocio listeners have come to expect from the genre. After all, in spite of the praise I am about to heap upon it, this is still an album where 21 Savage inexplicably declares, “Gucci on my pickle, nut right on her nipple.” That’s not to say the record’s lyrical content is entirely devoid of substance or purpose, but the obvious decision to focus first and foremost on crafting a consistent, hypnotic vibe renders most of the lyrics mere mood-setters.
With all respect to the project’s duo of A-List rappers, producer Metro Boomin emerges as the record’s undeniable star. As previously mentioned, production is often the make-or-break factor when it comes to trap music, and Metro takes full advantage of this opportunity. From outright bangers like “Ric Flair Drip” and the positively unassailable “Run Up the Racks” to the hypnotic, subdued synth progressions of “Ghostface Killers,” Young Metro is in rare form, meticulously crafting and distributing an addictive, mesmerizing vibe across the record’s ten tracks. The beats are dynamic and bursting with vitality, elevating what could have been another good-but-not-great trap project into something downright stellar.
is a truly collaborative project, with each of the three names contributing significantly to its overall success. The downbeat, monotone 21 Savage pairs near-flawlessly with Offset’s bouncy triplet flows, adding additional depth and variety to Metro Boomin’s lush production. At times, the rappers falter somewhat; the aforementioned “Run Up the Racks,” for example, sees 21 Savage devolve into repetitions of “gang” atop the project’s most explosive beat. For the most part, though, 21 and Offset more than hold their own, at times even elevating Metro’s sizzling production.
Though each of the three named contributors are absolutely integral to the record’s success, arguably most important is its concision. Bucking the trend of bloated, interminable projects cynically engineered in order to maximize streams, Without Warning
is impossibly tight. Not a moment is wasted across its 33-minute runtime, making it all too easy to spin it again (and again, and again) once “Darth Vader” fades into silence.