All of this boasting is a performance, of course, not unlike the rapper's chosen muse, long-time professional wrestler Ric Flair. It isn't the first time he's adopted the persona. On Savage's underrated 2014 album Carcosa, "Ric Flair" was a breezy lead single that came up with all sorts of creative ways to parade his ego.
With Flair in the news and on the cusp of having an ESPN 30 on 30 documentary released, it makes sense to revisit the WWE icon, but "Ric Flair Pt. 2" is also Savage's way of saying he's back and ready for more himself.
After a couple of years with little more than the occasional single or feature verse, Knoble Savage (sometimes stylized as KNOble Savage) has been pushing all sorts of new music in 2017. Following a Casio Cartel collaboration with Teflo $ and his own The Ron Jeremy Tape produced by Sardashhh, he is expected to drop a third full project with Andrew Bair soon that promises to be the loudest, most hard-hitting work he's ever produced. As a precursor, "Ric Flair Pt. 2" is more than adequate.
Savage's bars are packed with sharp rhymes and lifestyle showboating. He also works in some fighting words, as in the lines, "The Rolex and the big checks, to me it's just a Tuesday / The only times y'all gettin' props my dudes is April Fool's Day." His imagery is less colorful than it was on the first "Ric Flair", and there are no nerdy references to be found. Instead, "Ric Flair Pt. 2" is focused purely on taunts and punches, drawing inspiration more from the drama of wrestling than the kitsch of it.
That isn't to say he covers up the seams of the persona he wears. One specific line, "I spent your whole salary, and that's just about booze," seems to be an intentional wink at the camera, since it's well documented that Savage lives his personal life sober. It may also be a reference to Ric Flair's alcoholism, which recently put him on life support despite only being a habit he indulged in as a part of his character. Even in a vanity track, Savage can't seem to help sneaking in some depth, whether knowingly or otherwise.
The beat for "Ric Flair Pt. 2" is a little on the trendy side for Savage, who has typically worked with producers that buck the trends of the hip-hop landscape. Its only similarity to the first "Ric Flair" is a brief barely-heard electronic motif that comes at the beginning of each measure or so. It's the same in both songs, just with a pitch adjustment. Otherwise, "Pt. 2" brings in a warped out sample of some sort with some mostly tasteful trap snare work. Given how punchy the verses are, perhaps a bigger bass presence would have helped drive the idea home, but that's hardly a deal breaker. The beat isn't a copycat, it's memorable, and yet it doesn't feel out of line with what's popular at the moment.
The best addition to "Pt. 2" is the incorporation of Ric Flair's signature "Woooo!" It's a genius use of context that not only nails down the wrestling concept, but it also fits perfectly as a hip-hop inflection. It can be used for either celebratory shouts or mic drop moments. Savage's new single, of course, has plenty of both.
Hear Knoble Savage's "Ric Flair Pt. 2" with its music video, all of which dropped today, at the player below.