One thing that always impresses me with these new crop of rappers is the infectious energy that each one brings to the table. Between Lil Yacthy, XXXTENTACION, and Playboi Carti, the genre of hip hop is heading towards a more quirky style of music that has guys like Joe Budden cringing in their seats. One of the major standouts from this interesting group is Philadelphia-born rockstar Lil Uzi Vert.
The so-called “leader of the kids,” has made a name for himself through auto-tuned filled trap music on multiple popular mix-tapes. The music is so eccentric and freaky that it’s hard to even put a specific genre on this style. Ever since Uzi broke into the scene as a 2016 XXL Freshman, I’ve appreciated his knack for being himself and taking some risks when it comes to his specific production.
Sadly, on his new album (and the follow-up from Luv is Rage), Luv is Rage 2, that’s where the risks stop. Although I’m still impressed with how Uzi chooses his beats, his lyrics are too shallow and random to thoroughly enjoy. Honestly, Uzi played it safe on his newest project. For a person who is known for influencing a revolution in different rhyme schemes and flows, his trite lyrics made for a boring and empty experience.
Sure, he brings a ton of energy on the very electric opener, “Two,” a straightforward message to his contemporaries about his current state in rap, but these flashy moments are minimal. I’m still trying to figure out his goal on the Maaly Raw produced “444+222,” where I felt like he had the most potential to create something worthy of my time.
I still love the moody and unconventional production he portrays throughout the record, but he never truly backs that up with decent lyrics. A lot of the hooks are memorable but not in a good way. Most of the time he’s just mindlessly putting random words and phrases together in a semi-melodic fashion. One hook that stands out to be the most is again on “444+222” where he raps, “4-4-4-4 4-4-4-4, million, on me, Jay-Z, count up, fuck n-word, pay me.” If someone can tell me what this means as a full sentence, let me know.
Other notably dreadful hooks include, “weight, weight, weight, weight, weight, weight, weight, chop it up, off the plate, how long do it take,” on the single “Early 20 Rager,” and “sauce it up, do to much, ain’t enough, ain’t enough, where you from, throw it up, going nuts, going dumb” on the unoriginal “Sauce it Up.” I feel a little less educated after writing some of these phrases down.
Uzi redeems himself a bit on “The Way Life Goes,” where although the lyrics are kind of trite, at least he’s not endlessly putting aimless words together. The Oh Wonder sample is a nice touch as well that gets overlooked throughout the first listen. He also brings some of his odd but catchy singing back on “No Sleep Leak,” where he leaves us with an infectious and sticky chorus that finds a tough time leaving my head on the day-to-day basis recently.
Curiously, Uzi picks up steam by the final three or so songs on the record. “Dark Queen” is an interesting ode to his mother, thanking her for everything she did during the day and the night. “Malfunction” is a dark melodic take on individuality from Uzi, and also ends up being really enduring. His versatility is quite impressive as well, where he switches up his flows multiple times. Time and time again, that seems to be his lasting strength.
Uzi continuously shows why he’s better as a solo artist, because the two people he features on this album were really forgettable. Anytime The Weeknd is involved in a song it should be a hit, but Abel showed little effort on “UnFazed.” The same goes for Pharrell on “Neon Guts.” He attempts to create a phrase that people will remember, but ultimately Uzi gets lost within the track, and Pharrell brings nothing lyrically interesting on an otherwise stale beat.
Ultimately, I know people will argue that it’s more about the vibe when it comes to Uzi rather than his lyrical ability, but there are some moments on this album that are too ridiculous to ignore. Even though Uzi ends the project off with the mega-hit “XO TOUR LIF3,” it’s amazing to see the discrepancy of quality between that song and the rest on this record. Maybe if he moved the track-list around, I might have felt differently about this album, but even that wouldn’t have helped most likely. There are definitely some aspects here where we see that fiery energy from Uzi, but this is sadly, rarely on display.