As he’s touring the country with J. Cole, Atlanta superstar 21 Savage stopped by DJ Akademiks’ new podcast Off the Record for an extensive interview.
Appearing alongside his manager Meezy, the rapper spoke about a wide variety of topics including who his city’s biggest rapper is and why he didn’t want to work with Kanye West on Donda. Recorded just before 21’s set at Governor’s Ball over the weekend, the I Am > I Was creator also broke down who he thinks is running the rap game right now, and why he believes NBA YoungBoy wasn’t offered support from the wider rap community.
Read a breakdown of seven key moments from DJ Akademiks’ interview below, and check out the full Off the Record podcast above via Spotify.
Early in the conversation, Akademiks and 21 spoke at length about Drake. Savage suggested that for many hip-hop fans in Atlanta, Future is bigger Drake.
“If I wasn’t a rapper, I don’t feel like I still would listen to Drake, for real,” he said at the 2:30 point of the episode. “It’s just, I’m a rapper so I understand the work he put in and how hard he goes. Like, when you ain’t no rapper, all those statistics don’t mean shit. A regular street n***a don’t give a fuck about how many times you went No. 1, how many white people listen to your shit, because the farthest they think is the club. … In Atlanta, there’s n***as who you really can’t tell them that Future ain’t bigger than Drake.”
He added that he “used to think that” too, adding, “Drake ain’t really no big mixtape artist out there.”
When the clip circulated ahead of the episode arriving, 21 clarified on Twitter that he was “disconnected from mainstream music” before he was a rapper. “I didn’t know what Spotify was,” he wrote. “All we knew was mixtapes.”
While Drake made his name with chart-topping songs, Future built up his through a series of stellar mixtapes, some of which have only just been made available on streamings services. “Every Future album I ever heard was a bootleg, n***as was bootlegging it or going to LiveMixtapes,” Savage said.
At the start of the podcast, 21 also revealed the first time he ever listened to a Drake album the whole way through was with 2016’s Views. “Of course I heard him,” he added. “That was my first time listening to a Drake album top-to-bottom, on my kids.” The two would later go on to collaborate the same year with “Sneakin,” a one-off single Drizzy dropped ahead of his More Life project.
“I don’t think nobody really run it,” said 21 Savage at the 16:45 point when asked who’s in charge of the game currently. “I think it’s everybody contribute they piece and it just makes it what it is. You damn near can’t drop an album without Lil Baby on it, I think. So I’d say he’s the most featured n***a. You got everybody who do they own thing, bring they own sounds to it.”
As the topic continued, 21 said he doesn’t personally “really think about my status” in the world of hip-hop. “I don’t talk about it,” he said, to which Akademiks suggested “you wanna get recognition.”
21 replied, “I got it, I just don’t got the internet recognition. I got a Grammy, that’s recognition right? So fuck all that other shit, I don’t care about all that other shit. ... I want the money, I don’t care for 13-year-olds saying ‘Savage is No. 1.’”
Akademiks and Meek Mill have been trading shots for a number of years this point, mostly stemming from Ak being on friendly terms with 6ix9ine. But 21 thinks Meek would be willing to resolve their issues if they sat down for a chat.
“Meek willing. I know that n***a, he’s a good n***a,” Savage said at the 33:00 point. “The same way I know you, I know him. He just ain’t finna let you play with him, the same way you ain’t gonna let him play with you.”
With a smile on his face, Meezy tried to get 21 to call Meek, but 21 said “he’ll probably hang up.”
He thinks "a lot" of people won't support YoungBoy Never Broke Again because "they f*ck with [Lil] Durk"
21 touched on the topic of Kanye West’s Donda, offering his thoughts on the project and explaining why he would have turned down the opportunity to work ’Ye at that moment.
“I wouldn't have wanted to be on Donda if I'm going to be on CLB," said 21. "Me, personally. That's just the type of n***a I am."
When Ak suggested it was ridiculous to think 21 would turn down the opportunity to be on Donda, Savage continued. "I'm talkin' 'bout when n***as get smoked behind shit. ... That's why I said the Donda and CLB shit, I was probably exaggerating a little bit but I fuck with Drake so hard...I don't know."
Before they discussed why he wouldn’t be on Donda, 21 took a moment to ask Akademiks if he preferred Kanye or Drake’s record. Ak said CLB was his favorite even if the two projects are very different.
“Yeah, I like CLB too,” 21 added. “If I felt Donda was harder I would’ve said…I couldn’t really get into Donda, there was too much going on.”
The topic of Verzuz battles came up, and instead of the idea of who 21 might face, the prospect of Atlanta squaring up against another city was floated. The Savage Mode II rapper thinks it would be an easy win for ATL.
“City versus city, fuck no. Even if we did all the old n***as,” 21 said, to which Ak added it might be more appropriate to have multiple cities face Atlanta. Savage went on: “I ain’t gonna lie, n***as be getting it twisted too though, ’cause n***as be thinking everybody in Atlanta’s cool and shit. But we just don’t do that shit on the internet, like, it ain’t gonna be no public shit. It ain’t all kumbaya and shit.”