When Antoni Patek began making time pieces in 1839, he likely didn’t foresee becoming a trap legend. 178 years after crafting his first pocket watch, Patek is rolling in his grave, lamenting the missed opportunity to partner with the likes of Offset, 21 Savage and Metro Boomin’.
This Atlanta based trio joined forces for the surprise drop, Without Warning, released Tuesday, Oct 31 2017. Featuring 10 tracks across 33 minutes, the tape sees features from Migos compatriot Quavo, and autotune afficionado Travis Scott. Comporting with the Halloween release date, a ghastly theme runs the length of the tape, with cuts like “Run Up The Racks” and “Mad Stalkers” playing up the eerie atmosphere with dark, unsettling instrumentals.
The haunted atmosphere is inherently more suited to 21, whose murder-themed bars thrive in the darkness. That said, Metro adheres to the differences between 21 and Offset most exemplary on the aforementioned “Mad Stalkers.” Where 21’s lazy flow suits the sparsely produced hook, the more layered production for the verses allows Offset to find his tempo.
Pairing 21 with Offset should work in theory; 21’s monotonic flow should directly complement Offset’s athletic, triplet cadences. However, the sheer despair much of 21’s discography embodies, Without Warning included, drowns Offset’s appearances, making them feel all the more out of place.
If anything, the existence of Without Warning serves to highlight the growing necessity of a trap Renaissance. 21 and Offset lace their verses with line after line of violence, womanizing and jewelry, all of which do little to accentuate Metro’s work on the boards. “I can show you how to fit a M in a duffel/ I can show you how to fit a hunnid bags in a duffel,” is 21’s introduction to “My Choppa Hate Niggas” which could just as easily been a line issued by any number of contemporary southern artists. While the track has launched the metaphor “I call it KKK, cause my choppa hate niggas,” this, and most of the other cuts do little to differentiate what’s become a standard style in Atlanta rap.
It’s doubtful that fans are clamoring for a sweeping reversal to either 21 or Offset’s styles. However the tape comes off more as a contest to see who can shove in more Halloween references, with lines like, “Freddy Kruger, give ’em a nightmare/ soon as you close your eyes nigga we right there” being the baseline for the tape. Given the release date, the tape deserves a second look or two, but neither 21 or Offset’s performances encourage a revisit to this tape beyond the month of October.