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Since its October 2 release, 21 Savage and Metro Boomin’s Savage Mode II EP has gotten some strong reactions online. Narrated by Morgan Freeman, the 15-track record is full of eerie tales about street life.

One of the biggest points of discussion on the web is Freeman’s inclusion on the project, and how he ended up narrating it. For many, hearing his voice on the trailer and between tracks came as a shock. But believe it or not, Freeman couldn’t wait for the opportunity to narrate a project with so much darkness and grit. 

Morgan Freeman is all over 21 Savage’s Savage Mode II

Savage Mode II, 21 Savage’s long-anticipated sequel to Savage Mode, is full of surprises. With features from Drake, Young Thug, and Young Nudy, the record certainly makes a statement. But more surprising than even its features is the album’s use of Freeman as its narrator. His stern, assured voice can be heard on seven tracks, and completely changes the mood of the record. Furthermore, Freeman does an undeniably great job of preparing fans for the listening experience.

“Savage is defined as fierce, beastly, and untamed,” Freeman says in the album’s chilling trailer. “Mode is defined as a way of operating or using the system. So to be in ‘Savage Mode’ is to go hard, not allowing anything to stop or deter you from your mission. Basically, this means when someone’s in ‘Savage Mode’, they are not to be f-cked with.”

Freeman’s presence can be felt throughout the album, but his strongest moment may be on the “Snitches & Rats” interlude. On the record, he succinctly explains the difference between the two pejorative street terms. For anyone who’s a foreigner to hood politics, he makes things starkly clear.

“A ‘snitch’ is someone minding other folks’ business, to find information they can sell for a price or trade for some other form of compensation” Freeman explains on the track. “A ‘rat’ is a traitor, a conceiver, planner, or physical participator. He doesn’t sell secrets for power or cash, he betrays the trust of his team or his family hoping to save his own cowardly ass.”

Freeman ‘jumped’ at the opportunity to narrate ‘Savage Mode II’

Morgan Freeman
Morgan Freeman speaks onstage during the 51st NAACP Image Awards | Aaron J. Thornton/Getty Images for BET

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Although the response to Freeman’s performance on the album has been mostly positive, the primary reaction has been surprise. The seasoned actor has typically stayed away from such dark subject matter throughout his career, instead opting to narrate lighter, informational documentaries such as March of the Penguins.

However, it’s for exactly that reason that Freeman decided to go left and get out of his comfort zone. Freeman recently told GQ he chose the gig because he was tired of being “cast into a mold.”

“What happens is you sort of get locked into a position,” Freeman said. “Henry Fonda was in it, Spencer Tracy was in it, James Stewart was in it, even though he played a couple of bad guys. You don’t really don’t want to be cast into a mold, but after a few years, it’s bound to happen. Every [offer] that’s outside of what you consider [your] mold is fun to do. I got to jump at it.”

Apparently, Freeman also connected with the album’s content on a personal level. He relates to Savage’s perspective, suggesting they may have similar morals.  

“I read the copy and was like wow, there’s some wisdom in here,” Freeman said. “I think this is the way I think. It’s basically saying don’t suffer fools and when you want something go for that. “If [Savage’s music] is a young people thing, then this is stuff they need to be aware of. So it’s a good thing to do.”