Hip-hop's connection to the word savage runs deep. Aside from countless rappers dropping the word in their rhymes since the genre's inception, many others have been owning the term when it comes to their moniker. When it comes to the Merriam-Webster dictionary of savage, the definition -- "not domesticated or under human control" and "lacking the restraints normal to civilized human beings" -- has a negative connotation but not in hip-hop.

For decades, the game has regularly turned negative words into positive tags. Bad means good, dope is nice and stupid is a positive adjective. That's exactly what's happening with the new generation of MCs when it comes to savage, which is now looked at as a term of empowerment. A savage is a man or woman who walks their own path and isn't afraid to go after what they want or defend what they have. Atlanta is the home to three young savages making a name for themselves in the industry: 21 SavageManMan Savage and Lotto Savage.

21 Savage, a 2016 XXL Freshman, has seen his popularity skyrocket over the last two years. After losing his best friend in 2013, 21 turned to hip-hop and hasn't looked back since. The 21-year-old has released two mixtapes -- The Slaughter Tape and Slaughter King -- a universally praised collaborative EP with Metro Boomin titled Savage Mode, gained a crazy fan base and dropped great guest verses on major projects from Travi$ Scott and Bankroll Mafia. Then there's his rising anthem "X" featuring Metro Boomin and Future, which is currently No. 84 on the Billboard Hot 100. And let's not forget his performance of the track at the 2016 BET Hip Hop Awards. Life for 21 is very good at the moment. 

Behind the Atlanta rapper is his team, Slaughter Gang, which consists of Lotto Savage, Mookie Madri Gra, Young Nudy and Freaky D$MG. For the Slaughter Gang, keeping it real is the motto.

“We are the real Atlanta, we are really in the street, we are really what the fuck Atlanta going on,” 21 says. “Every artist that I got with me is really from the hood and really from Atlanta and really in the streets of Atlanta. Lotto Savage, Mookie Madri Gra, Freaky D$MG, that who I’m bring with me, that’s all sides of Atlanta. The other shit y’all been seeing, some of them really from Atlanta but some ain’t and rapping about that gay ass fashion shit. We bringing back that pain, street, real feeling music.”

Lotto Savage is a name that rap fans outside of Atlanta should be familiar with. The 25-year-old spitta is currently signed to Epic Records and his single "Trapped It Out" is a certified street banger. The surprising thing about Lotto is that he's only been rapping for a short time yet his buzz is steadily growing. The first song he ever made was "Dirty K" off 21 Savage's 2015 Slaughter King tape. The rapper credits 21 for inspiring him to rap. Since dropping his debut mixtape, Don Slaughterback in May, Lotto Savage's name has only gotten bigger.

"We all homeboys," says Lotto when discussing Slaughter Gang. "21 is from the Eastside I'm from the Westside. We linked up on some street stuff. We became real good friends. He was rapping at the time when I met him. If you look back at his old videos you're going to always see me in the video. Savage movement is like, we like the new A$AP. It's just that everybody don't have the A$AP in front or behind their name. Only me and 21 have the savage in our name. Young Nudy in the movement. He's a part of the Slaughter Gang movement."

ManMan Savage is the wildcard in this trio. The 22-year-old MC moves in the worlds of hip-hop and EDM. He recently released a collaborative EP with DJ Madeaux. So what's his connection to Slaughter Gang? "I was around when 21 first made [Slaughter Gang]," ManMan states. "I was rapping with him but I wasn't in it. i just shouted it out but that's his music. I was supporting him."

When it comes to the word savage, it's the tie that binds them. "We all just grew up together, being around the same environment and that's how we connected; Calling each other savages," he continues.

Another way they're connected is through the song "Life of a Savage," off ManMan's #FreeManManSavage2The aptly titled track, produced by Chris Jackson, features all three Savages detailing their respective lifestyles, from snatching to multiplying.

Outside of Atlanta, there's a young rhymer who adopted the savage moniker and he's making serious waves with his music across the internet. D Savage 3900, an 18-year-old recent high school graduate in Los Angeles, is the fourth widely known savage in the hip-hop ecosystem. The rapper hasn't met any of the ATL Savages yet but enjoys their music. When asked about what the word means to him, his answer is quite simple.

"Savage means to me like, I don't trust nobody, I don't fuck with nobody," the "30 Round Clip" creator shares. "If niggas want to take it there, we can get ugly. It really don't take much. Savage to me is like a mentality, mode."

As the savage movement continues to grow in hip-hop, so will the evolution of the word. For now, it's a universal term that shows a distinct state of mind. But like 21 Savage delivers on the fitting track "Savage Mode": it's an ethos that only few can live by. "I turned to a savage, bitch, I got to have it."

See Behind-the-Scenes Photos of 21 Savage at 2016 XXL Freshman Class Cover Shoot