Lil Uzi Vert’s come up isn’t the first of its kind in hip hop. Plenty of rappers before him have made hit records, strengthened their fan base due to their internet popularity and translated that to mainstream success, but the difference with Uzi is that he’s making music unlike anything we’ve ever heard. A strange fusion of rap, R&B and hard rock medleys make up Uzi’s unique sound and attitude towards creating music. At times it’s somber and emphatic and, most of the time, it’s a puzzling mix of both.
Just when you think you’ve started to figure out who Uzi is as not only artist but person, he flips the script and shows another side to his already multifaceted personality. The lines don’t get any clearer to read on his new album, Luv Is Rage 2, as the 23-year-old Philly native throws in more puzzle pieces to his unraveling story.
To the less trained mumble rap ear, Luv Is Rage 2 sounds similar to other Uzi projects based simply on delivery. The melody and rhymes woven through thundering 808-driven beats in a chillingly consistent way. But for those who’ve been rocking with Uzi since 2015’s first installment of Luv Is Rage, this album puts that gravely mumble sound on songwriting steroids. Instead on leaning innately on his staggering vocals to carry him through the majority of his songs, these 16 tracks are structured much sturdier—a power move that will hopefully turn those less trained ears into Uzi experts.
The most obvious example of this other than the smash hit “XO Tour Llif3” is “The Way Life Goes.” Touching yet again on his past relationship with ex-girlfriend Brittany Byrd, Uzi sings with what appears to be a minimal amount of Auto-Tune and pours out his very candid feelings about his relationship woes. Sad but matured Uzi sings, “I know it hurts sometimes but you’ll get over it/You’ll find another life to live/I swear that you’ll get over it,” with near perfect vocals. His emotional battle with this obviously problematic relationship fuels the majority of the lyrical content on this album.
At one moment Uzi will pour his heart out for said female and then regret he ever met her in the very next song. He wraps up his conundrum very simply on “X,” when he cries out, “I could never stress/Yeah, my life’s a mess/But I’m also blessed/My heart’s in the junkyard cause it’s wrecked.”
These type of pseudo-trap ballads are right within Uzi’s wheelhouse and have been for some time now—he’s actually strongest on this album when he freely experiments. “Neon Guts” serves as the track with the most replay value on the LP and, of course, it features fellow free-thinker Pharrell. The two go back and forth fluidly over a calming beat produced by Pharrell himself. “Higher than Elon Musk, so high stars eat our dust/And I got a colorful aura like I got neon guts/Dark energy, we don’t touch, our jewelry be on Tut/And It give a nigga colorful aura like I got neon guts” is delivered with such silky vocals from both artists that it pretty much guarantees smash hit potential. Plus, Uzi manages to get off some audible rap lines that would make even the harshest critics rethink labeling him a mumble rapper.
The only real issue that faces Luv Is Rage 2 is its length. Sixteen songs is just a little bit long for just about anyone to properly digest in 2017. Attention spans are short and Uzi’s expectations are high—had this album been capped off at a dozen songs, the replay value might have rendered itself higher. Don’t get it twisted, Uzi has some great songs on here that will undoubtedly get millions of plays but it’s hard to tell if people will be talking about the album as a whole in six months’ time.
Despite the long-winded nature of the album, Uzi definitely got it right with Luv Is Rage 2. The songs are catchy, the beats are hot and Uzi gives a vocal performance that redefines the term rap rock star. He still might be searching for his magnum opus album but if he keeps putting out projects like this, and growing along the way, Uzi will find his classic sooner rather than later.
See Behind-the-Scenes Photos of Lil Uzi Vert at the 2016 XXL Freshman Shoot
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