Thanks to legal cases against Young Thug and YoungBoy Never Broke Again, rap lyrics have been under the microscope as fans and critics debate rappers’ responsibility for their rhymes’ relations to reality.
As previously reported, 21 shared a tweet on Monday in which he called on the Georgia city to “do better” and “put the f****** guns down.” The message was echoed by many of 21’s followers, although some critics (namely those who fail to understand the very concept of art itself) used the opportunity to question the artist’s lyrics.
Atlanta We Have To Do Better
Put The F****** Guns Down !!!!!
— Saint Laurent Don (@21savage) August 8, 2022
While 21 was quick to respond via a follow-up tweet, he later offered a more expansive response via Instagram.
“It’s like a lot of gun violence, a lot of killings and shootings going on and I ain’t never seen nothing like this my whole life being in Atlanta. I ain’t never seen it at this point that it’s at right now,” 21 said.
The whole situation, he added, is a “sad” one that he finds depressing. But when he chooses to speak out about the issue, 21 added, he gets inaccurately labeled as a “hypocrite” by people attempting to use his own art against him. Interestingly, such critics’ attempted argument is exactly what’s being done to a number of artists in the American court system (marking an issue that has received a nationwide legislative push to protect the creative process from being criminalized).
“They say, ‘Oh, you hypocrite, you this, you that.’ … I ain’t never promoted violence,” 21 said. “I rap about what I’ve been through, what I’ve heard about, what I saw. That ain’t me promoting violence. That’s not me saying, ‘Yeah violence is cool’ or whatever. Yeah, I say a lot of shit on songs.”
From there, 21 noted how many fans he would have (“Zero”), as well as the potential inability to feed his family, were he to suddenly start making music about religion and charity. Urging listeners to be “realistic” about what they expect from artists, 21 continued by noting that a lot of the criticism in these types of scenarios originates from people who are simply trying to “get likes,” which he considers a “lame” practice.
“It’s a lot of young people who come from these environments we come from that found a way to feed their family and feed a lot of people in they communities and neighborhoods by making this type of music,” 21 said.
“I love giving back,” he said. “I just don’t talk about it a lot. … All my good deeds that I do, I don’t send them to the blogs to get liked because of it or to get attention.”
And in closing, 21 reminded any remaining critics, he is going to write about whatever he so chooses.
“I’m gonna rap about whatever I wanna rap about, at the end of the day. … It’s a lot of killing going on but it’s not the whole world,” he said.
See more from 21 below.
21 recently linked with Calvin Harris for the single “New Money,” which appears on the latter’s just-released Funk Wav Bounces Vol. 2 album as the opening track. The album also features appearances from Busta Rhymes, Halsey, Pharrell, Lil Durk, and more. Listen here.