I Am > I Was (pronounced "I am greater than I was") is 21 Savage's second studio album which was released on December 21, 2018 by Slaughter Gang and Epic Records.
21 Savage tweeted "12-7-18" in November, which led to speculation that the album would be released on that date. The tracklist was leaked by record producer Louis Bell via his Instagram story on December 13, 2018.
21 Savage later stated in his Instagram story that he was "sorry" because he "forgot" to release the album, but a later video stated it would be released on December 21.
On December 6, 2018, 21 Savage posted the cover art on Instagram which features a blurred out image of himself, captioning the image with a number of goat emojis. Billboard called the cover art "cryptic."
- A Lot (featuring J. Cole)
- Break Da Law
- A&T (featuring City Girls)
- Out For The Night
- Gun Smoke
- 1.5 (featuring Offset)
- All My Friends (featuring Post Malone)
- Can't Leave Without It (featuring Lil Baby & Gunna)
- Ball W/O You
- Good Day (featuring Schoolboy Q and Project Pat)
- Pad Lock
- Monster (featuring Childish Gambino)
- Letter 2 My Momma
- 4L (featuring Young Nudy)
Deluxe edition track
- Out for the Night, Pt. 2 (featuring Travis Scott) 3:55
"I Am > I Was" debuted at #1 on the Billboard 200 in the first chart issue of 2019, earning 131,000 album-equivalent units (including 18,000 pure album sales) in its first week, becoming 21 Savage's first number-one album in the United States.
In its second week, the album remained at #1, earning 65,000 units, down 51 percent from its debut week.
In its third week, it fell down to #2 with 56,000 units (down 14 percent). A Boogie wit da Hoodie's album, "Hoodie SZN" surpassed him with 58,000 equivalent album units in the United States in the week ending January 10, 2019.
On January 8, 2020, the album was certified platinum by the RIAA for combined sales and album-equivalent units of over a million units in the United States.
"I Am > I Was" was met with critical acclaim. At Metacritic, the album received an average score of 81, based on six reviews.
Aggregator AnyDecentMusic? gave it 7.2 out of 10, based on their assessment of the critical consensus. Album of the Year assessed the critical consensus as 78 out of 100, based on eight reviews.
Reviewing the album for Variety, A. D. Amorosi stated "Despite all the high-profile guests, it's actually on the soulfully inventive "Ball w/o You", "Gun Smoke" and the sensual "Out for the Night"—which all feature 21 Savage on his own—that "i am > i was" is at its best and most dynamic."
Eric Diep of HipHopDX said, "At 15 songs and 51 minutes long, it's an enjoyable listen with good pacing, filled with the right amount of vulnerability, heartache, menace, and savagery."
Ben Beaumont-Thomas of The Guardian saying "There is a slight uptick in vocal musicality compared with his previous work. ... He has plenty of average lines—almost as offensive as the rightly controversial "Jewish money" lyric in ASMR is the weakness of "you get burned like toast" as a simile—but his catchy flows always make him magnetic, especially when paired with universally brilliant production from Metro Boomin, Kid Hazel and others."
Paul A. Thompson from Pitchfork stated, "i am > i was shatters the notion of 21 Savage as a specialist with a narrow purview and audience, and recasts him as a star in waiting, all without forcing him into unflattering contortions. It also cements him as a far more original stylist than other hopefuls from Atlanta."
Consequence of Sound critic Michael Pementel said, "21 Savage's ability to express a variety of feelings allows the music to stand out at times and become more than a generic gangsta rap presentation. It's unfortunate, then, that the record finds itself held back by unfeeling and monotonous takes on issues like gun violence. Overall, i am > i was is a mixed bag of experience that offers enough solid tracks to keep fans latched on."