If you were shocked by the release of this record, it’s OK – you weren’t the only one. Fans have hounded Philadelphian rapper Lil Uzi Vert for new music for three years. Last year Uzi told the world that he wanted to explore fashion over music, decimating the hearts of hypebeasts and SoundCloud fans alike. Yet his 2016 breakthrough smash ‘Money Longer’ earned him a great deal of good will, which this sci-fi and Greek mythology inspired record massively delivers on – and then some.
Uzi has taken note of the ancient storytellers and created a story of his own: one minute he’s roaming around Earth, the next he’s rudely beamed up into a spaceship on Pluto. Some tracks are filled with anger, while others featured glassy, guitar-led melodies. We’re welcomed by opener ‘Baby Pluto’, which fuses Uzi’s acclaimed flows and braggadocio with a clashing trap instrumental. On ‘POP’ he matches impaling 808s with a punchy vocal delivery; it’s only track four, but if the album finished here, you’d probably be satisfied.
From this point, Uzi’s lyrical journey sees him on the run from evil forces, marking a tonal shift. ‘Eternal Atake’ becomes a rambling but enjoyable mess, a clash of sounds – ominous humming on ‘Prices’, videogame sounds on ‘Homecoming’ – that reflects his frenzied state of mind. ‘Prices’ is an album standout, sampling the 2016 Kid Cudi-assisted Travis Scott track ‘Way Back’. It could have been lifted from Uzi’s acclaimed 2016 mixtape ‘The Perfect LUV Tape’, transporting us to the year he blew up. Here, though, he repeatedly reminds us that he significantly “went up in price”.
Towards the end of the record the rapper indulges us in his signature mumble – though he surprises us again by (shock, horror!) actually singing. On ‘Urgency’ he and The Internet’s Syd lull the listener into a false sense of security, as though the chaos that permeates ‘Eternal Atake’ has finally ebbed away. Proclaiming their need for love, the duo croon: “I promise you, you gon‘ be the last one / Vacation, just so you can have fun”.
Yet there’s another twist in the tale: closer ‘P2’ is a dizzying brain-buster that sees Uzi rap atop his most successful track to date, ‘XO Tour Llif3’, which was first released in 2017. “Know I’m starting over,” he admits over the seven-times Platinum hit; at this point in the narrative Uzi has returned to Earth, ready to restart his life, equipped with new knowledge. There’s an ingenious moment when he raps that he’s “messing with your heads,” which is true because you actually just want to sing along to the song’s original lyrics.
Lil Uzi Vert still has the game in a chokehold. He’s been making masterpieces for five years now; his body of work offers timestamps for different eras of rap music in that period, from mumble rap (which he pioneered with 2016’s ‘Luv Is Rage’ and ‘Lil Uzi Vert Vs The World’), or the commercial rap he pushed out on his debut ‘Luv Is Rage 2’. And here, again, he has made another record that will stay close to the hearts of a generation of rap fans. He is surely our generation’s Lil Wayne.
Release Date: March 6
Record Label: Roc Nation/Atlantic