2017 No. 1s: Inside 21 Savage's Countdown to Success With 'Bank Account'

Raymond McCrea Jones
From left: Manager Justin “Meezy” Williams, 21 Savage and Epic Records/Sony Music Entertainment senior vp commerce Celine Joshua photographed on Nov. 1 at Gypsy Kitchen in Atlanta.

Rap Streaming Songs and On Demand Streaming Songs (one week each)

During a summer recording session close to the completion of his debut, Issa Album, rapper 21 Savage freestyled the hook that would anchor his biggest hit to date. Counting to eight over a guitar loop in an affectless cadence that sounded like a sinister nursery rhyme, the 25-year-old created “Bank Account” -- and, without diluting his hard-core approach, scored his first solo top 40 entry on the Billboard Hot 100, where the track stayed for months. Ultimately racking up over 25 million streams, the track topped the Rap Streaming Songs and On Demand Streaming Songs charts, capping a year that also included a Rap Albums No. 1, Without Warning, with Offset and Metro Boomin, and a verse on Post Malone’s Hot 100-topping “Rockstar” -- another exceptional crossover hit, and a sure sign that the mainstream was ready for Savage.

Justin “Meezy” Williams, manager: He was in Los Angeles when he recorded it, and I was in Atlanta. Metro [Boomin] made a snippet, and I saw it on DJ Akademiks’ page. I called Savage, like, “What is this?” He’s like, “Don’t worry about it,” and hung up.

Celine Joshua, Epic Records/Sony Music Entertainment senior vp commerce: It gets you in that first 20 seconds. You know you’re going to have it on repeat.

21 Savage: I just create. I don’t have expectations. I just make music.

Joshua: That’s 21’s style: He’ll drop the album and let the fans pick [the single]. Then we just add the fuel.

Williams: I won’t say I knew it was going to be his biggest hit, but whatever that shit I had just heard for 30 seconds was, it was crazy. If you bring up [making a single], you’re going to piss [Savage] off and he is not going to record anything. Everything with Savage has been something that goes out and the people [choose it].

Joshua: [Streaming is] a playground. Whether you’re discovering him or you’re already a fan, you’re coming in on that song on Spotify. He is truly the artist for the streaming generation.

This article originally appeared in the Dec. 30 issue of Billboard. 


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