Saviii 3rd looks like a man after a 300 lb. barbell has been lifted off his shoulders. In his music and videos, he wields a larger than life presence that’s filled with a chilling urgency, a sonic powder keg ready to explode at the slightest confrontation from any opposition. Today, however, relaxed smiles take the place of those raspy rampages, as he soaks up the sunlight on a cloudless summer day in Long Beach, California.
We’re sitting in the backyard of the last remaining hangout spot from his childhood, right next to the makeshift garage studio where many of his early songs were made. “I wish you could see it with the lights at night time, it’s so meditative,” he says. “I’ll be in the pool with the lights on, I want to go in there right now. This is where I come to get my peace.”
Fresh off the long awaited release of his debut album All Eyez on 3, it’s understandable why Saviii 3rd feels so relieved. The road to the project’s release date has been filled with obstacles of every kind, from management issues to legal troubles that hindered his ability to move freely. He declares as much with his very first words on the album, exclaiming “everytime I try to get a piece of mine, niggas try to get a piece of mine” as thunderous bass hits enter the fray to cause chaos.
Of course, if you’ve been one of Saviii’s core fans, it’s not your first time hearing the song. “See Em Comin” was also the intro track when he initially dropped All Eyez on 3 in 2018, as a seven song EP intended to be the first in his trilogy. He wrote every word on the initial tape during his four year stint in jail, over whatever beats he could get his hands on to serve as a backdrop for his incisive lyrics. He eventually found new production after he was released in 2017, and quickly put together the project as a way to restamp his mark as a ferocious spitter on the West Coast.
The EP’s life would soon be cut short, however, after he signed with Cash Money West and agreed to take it down to rerelease it as a new project. “It was my idea to add the extra songs,” he says. “It already had a couple hundred thousand plays at that point. It was like, if I’m going to take it down, I want to give my fans a reason for the wait.”
Some of the album’s best songs are those that are just now seeing the light of day. “Public Figure” joins airy guitar riffs with pounding percussion, as Saviii grapples with people switching up as well as the realities of his elevated platform. By the time we arrive at “War Ready,” he’s on the verge of paranoia, with a frenetic tone to his vocals as he speaks on life back in school when he did everything except actually attend class and study.
The story of Saviii 3rd is one of the more compelling in California, and lyrically, it unfolds with the vivid imagery that keeps you hanging on every word. There’s not a moment on All Eyez on 3 that isn’t packed with true, unflinching emotion, giving fans a clear entry way into his unsettled state of mind. However, perhaps the most gripping song in his catalogue arrived at the end of 2018, when he released “The Glory” as the introduction to his Snowboy mixtape.
The song contains no breaks, no beat changes, and no shelter from his wrath. As soon as he opens his mouth, it’s a relentless outpouring of his soul, creating a feeling of horrific majesty that’s intensified once his overpowering melodies open up the floodgates at the end.
“I was in the county jail the day after I signed to Cash Money,” he says. “I signed in Beverly Hills, drove to Long Beach to spend the night, just to go to the courthouse in the morning. I woke up late, and they took me to jail. So I was in the county going through it. I went to jail July 18, got out on August 10, and made that song August 13. It was called “Better Days” at first, but I changed it to “The Glory” because of the ending. It just sounds like the glory.”
Saviii 3rd puts everything into his songs, speaking to the well-documented, therapeutic qualities of creating art. Outside of the music, however, he admits it’s a challenge for him to open up on a similar level. He relishes in the fact that he’s survived the unspeakable, but acknowledges the power it can still have on his state of mind, if not properly restrained.
“Words are so powerful,” he says. “If I think it, I know how to erase it fast before it alters my energy. But once I speak it, it’s so much more powerful to put it into the world. So once I get to talking about it, I’m going to have a moment of pain.”
“Once you go through so much tragic shit in life, it’s like, how do you keep prevailing?” he continues. “And the dudes around me are going through the same shit. I started understanding the world for what it really is, and got so much more woke on my own energy. I’m just so happy I reached that bag, and the niggas around me are waking up too. But once you’ve been through your past, you don’t want to speak on that shit. You want to talk about this life right now. Because I didn’t have that energy back then; if I did, I wouldn’t have went through all that.”
By now, his life has changed in more ways than one. Kendrick Lamar and TDE work out to his music; several music videos have reached a million plays; his debut album has finally been released in its most devastating form. However, the most essential adjustment is something much more personal, one that he says no accolade or amount of streams can compare to.
Instead, it’s the son that Saviii 3rd welcomed into the world at the end of July, his first child. Today, the backyard lounge we’re sitting in is his peace; for years to come, his son will bring him the same, and so much more.
“That’s going to be my eternal peace,” he says. “You don’t know how to be a father until it happens to you. But I know I’ll be a good father because I’ll be there; it’s going to be genuine. He’s my little me, it’s just like I’m taking care of myself again.”