Locust & 21st: On The Emergence Of Saviii 3rd

Will Hagle explains why East Long Beach MC Saviii 3rd deserves to be on your radar.
By    August 9, 2018

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Will Hagle still has no idea what happened to that boy.

In the video for “Another Day,” the first single from his lone mixtape All Eyez On 3, Saviii 3rd stands perched atop the street signs at the intersection of Locust Ave. and 21st Street. “I’m telling all our story,” he says, surrounded by a huge group of people that presumably hail from his same neighborhood. In the video for “Batter Up,” his latest loose single, the beat drops out so that he and all his friends can shout together: “Whole squad playin’ ball / batter up!” Like many who came before him, Saviii 3rd appears to be a conduit for the artistic interpretation of the frenetic activity brewing on the streets of East Long Beach.

Crips from East Long Beach have always played an integral role in Los Angeles gangsta rap. Although his affiliation has been disputed, Snoop Dogg essentially established the genre. Whether intentionally or not, Vince Staples subverted all the stereotypes that emerged in Snoop’s wake, while contributing to the genre’s evolution in the process. Saviii 3rd, another Crip from Long Beach, occupies the opposite end of the spectrum as Staples by leaning into gangsta rap’s more traditional tropes. All Eyez On 3 is not a subtle 2Pac reference. Saviii 3rd’s lyrics don’t stray far from the expected depictions of street life, and neither do his friend-heavy, low-budget visuals.

Saviii 3rd’s sound, like his aesthetic, aligns with the rest of the most exciting up and coming rappers scattered throughout the “new” LA. That doesn’t mean that his music is boring or expected, as his unique voice, lyrics, and local references make him immediately distinct. It’s just that the best aspects of his style align with the best local artists of the genre. The song-ending, shakily sung portion of All Eyez On 3 opener “See Em Comin” is on par with the paranoia of Still Brazy, over a beat that wouldn’t be out of place on Stay Dangerous or any of DJ Mustard’s discography. Savii 3rd has also freestyled over the beat for Drakeo the Ruler’s instantly classic local hit, “Big Banc Uchies.” His voice is scratchy but he raps with a clarity that brings something new to the track, reciting breathless bars over the bouncing production.

Despite Saviii 3rd’s deep local roots, he’s the first artist to sign with Cash Money’s new West Coast imprint. According to TMZ, Wack 100—manager for the Game, Suge Knight, Ray J, and Saviii 3rd—pitched the idea for Cash Money West to Birdman and Slim, who agreed and named him vice president of the new company. Universal Music Group reportedly dumped $20 million into #CMW, which will focus on “up-and-coming artists who are trying to break into the mainstream.”

Saviii seems aptly prepared to fulfill that corporate prophecy, even if his SoundCloud profile description of, “AUTHENTICITY AT ITS HIGHEST DEGREE,” goes against everything the music industry stands for. Cash Money West can hopefully help him develop as an artist, but he already understands what it means to both stand out as unique and fit within the context of Long Beach rap and modern LA gangsta rap in general. “Another Day” is a slice-of-life anthem, but it’s enough to make us keep watching to see what the artist and his friends and neighbors do tomorrow.

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