Lil Uzi Vert saves the world
Ryan Israel | Thursday, March 19, 2020
The year is 2050, and after 30 years of trials and tribulations, intense social and political reform, scientific development and the abolition of country music, society has reached a state of perfection. Climate change has been reversed, diseases (and viruses) cured, poverty eliminated and war eradicated. Sweeping advancements and revolutionary ideas have propelled all of the arts to an elevated status in civilization. In music, three artists remain, each representing one of the three remaining genres. They are 100 gecs, Billie Eilish and Lil Uzi Vert.
What inspired humans everywhere to so drastically change their ways of life and work together to achieve utopia? And why is Lil Uzi Vert so popular?
The answer to both questions is simple — the pair of albums, “Eternal Atake” and “LUV vs. The World 2,” released by the Philadelphia-born rapper only days apart in March of 2020. These two musical works contain such multitudes of joy and excitement, depth and emotion and long-awaited rap bangers that they changed the world.
Before the arrival of “Eternal Atake,” Uzi had already been propelled to stardom by 2016’s “Bad and Boujee,” a trap rap hit and Twitter favorite created in collaboration with Migos, as well as 2017’s “XO Tour Llif3,” the clearest indicator at the time that “emo rap” could crack into the mainstream. He was a celebrity: both goofy and shy, an incredibly well-dressed rap star. And, in a sign of the genre’s close relationship with internet culture, he also became a meme — more than once.
In the years between 2017’s “Luv Is Rage 2” and “Eternal Atake,” Uzi was more celebrity than artist, making headlines for his lack of new music rather than any actual releases. There was a retirement from rap and a very public dispute with his label. Fans began to wonder if a new album would ever arrive. There were a couple of loose singles, “New Patek” the best among them, but the long-promised “Eternal Atake” seemed an eternity away.
And then it was delivered from on high, beamed down from another world by Uzi himself: “Eternal Atake,” a collection of 16 brand new tracks and two previously released singles perfectly calibrated to bring peace and happiness to our planet. There was praise. There was rejoicing. And only a week later, “LUV vs. The World 2” arrived as well, a companion mixtape — a second gift, really — consisting of 14 more songs.
“Eternal Atake” is an hour of pure Uzi, potentially overwhelming for some, but the perfect amount for others. He raps at breakneck speed on nearly every track, spitting verse after verse about his favorite topics. There’s talk of cars — Mercedes, Maybachs, G Wagons and Lambrogihinis — and plenty of women, but, above all, Uzi raps about fashion. He loves statement pieces, designer jeans, stylish fits and big name brands. Versace, Balmain, Commes Des Garcons, Chanel, Raf Simmons, Louis Vuitton, Off White and more get shoutouts galore. But this love for all things designer hits its peak when Uzi turns the Spanish luxury fashion house Balenciaga into one of the album’s undeniably catchy and simple choruses, shouting, “Balenci,’ Balenci,’ Balenci,’” ad nauseam on standout track “POP.” If you’re a fashion brand that wasn’t mentioned on the album, the question bears asking: Are you really even a brand at all?
Of course, no one, not even Lil Uzi Vert, can always be happy. “I’m Sorry” finds Uzi performing in the “emo rap” genre he helped popularize, reminiscing over a breakup and apologizing for everything he did wrong. Album closer “P2,” or “Part 2,” serves as a sequel to the hit “XO Tour Llif3.” “P2” picks up where the original left off, using a similar beat, flow and dark subject matter to create an appropriate ending to the album.
All Uzi’s rapping is done over beats that feel incredibly current, representing the best of a new direction in rap music. The album’s production brings together playful and melodic keys with booming bass and trippy, futuristic sound effects. It’s definitely not trap music, but something “a few links down the chain,” so to speak. The beats match Uzi’s energy, moving from bouncy and fun to ethereal and light as the album progresses.
Just as the dust was starting to settle from the release of “Eternal Atake,” Uzi followed it up by releasing the mixtape “LUV vs. The World 2.” Unlike the album, which has only one feature from R&B singer Syd, “LUV vs. The World 2” includes contributions from a smattering of current hip-hop players such as Future, 21 Savage, Gunna and Young Thug. The mixtape may be more scattered than “Eternal Atake,” but it still manages to “pop off” in every way possible. When there’s more Uzi, there’s more fun, and early tracks “Myron,” “Bean (Kobe)” and “Yessirskiii” stand out as the best of the bunch.
To snap back to reality — which is, admittedly, much less fun than the hypothetical future in which “Eternal Atake” and “LUV vs. The World 2” bring about universal peace — Uzi’s music (probably) won’t change the world. But even so, the projects are still two fun, popping rap albums to crank up to 11 and enjoy while dancing approximately 6 feet away from your friends.
Album: “Eternal Atake” and “LUV vs. The World 2”
Artist: Lil Uzi Vert
Favorite tracks: “Baby Pluto,” “POP,” “Myron,” “Yessirskiii”
If you like: Kanye West, Playboi Carti, Grimes
Shamrocks: 4 out of 5