Lil Uzi Vert rose to fame with his 2015 mixtape ‘Luv Is Rage,’ which featured the rapper reaching out to a fan during what looks like a sold out show on the cover. That picture is in ways what the Uzi aesthetic is all about; the relatable rock star. Sure his music is mostly trap, but by looking at the lyrics and the melodies he uses he might as well come from the 2000s era of pop punk and mall emo, where aesthetic and painting yourself as the sadboy lonely stoner was more important than producing music worth listening to. Thankfully for us, Uzi doesn’t fall into the latter.
No, Uzi makes good music, and that continues with his latest project and debut album, ‘Luv Is Rage 2.’ The Philadelphia native was always known for his catchy hooks, but on this record he pushes his sound to more mainstream levels.
Prior to ‘LIR2,’ Uzi was flying high off his first hit, the emo trap anthem ‘XO Tour LliF3.’ The song, which peaked at No.7 on the Hot 100, is sonically not much different from the music any of his fellow trappers are making. It’s the delivery that makes it stand out, as Uzi stretches his voice in way that makes the chorus sound like a Blink-182 song. Songs on here touch on pop punk staples such as girls, breakups and the general feeling of teenage angst. While much ado has been made about how the new crop of rappers are influenced by pop punk bands of years past, Uzi stands atop the them all, possessing a style that harkens back to alt-rock’s glory days but also one that’s all his own.
‘LIR2,’ more than any other Uzi project, is a dizzy listen. Songs coagulate and ebb freely while Uzi switches from rapid triplet flow bars to high-pitched melodic yelps. “Speed up, go fast/slow down/breathe in/breathe out,” he says sporadically on ‘444 + 222,’ a pretty good textual representation of his music. Songs can be audio rollercoasters, filled with twists and turns that can be overwhelming, but fun nonetheless.
The last couple of Uzi projects were more of throwaway tracks for fans, and they showed in the music. This album however was more meticulously crafted, obviously since it’s being branded as his debut album. Tracks like ‘Feelings Mutual,’ ‘X,’ ‘Neon Guts’ and of course XO TOUR Llif3′ showcase Uzi’s knack for hooks and song structure. The chorus for ‘The Way Life Goes’ in particular is a standout. Uzi puts his trademark squawk to the side and uses his speaking voice, telling his ex that she’ll eventually get over him. No less melodic but possessing emotion only someone raised on Paramore and not 50 Cent can bring out.
In an interview with Zane Lowe, Uzi talked about how he wants to make a rock album someday. While that may make anyone who’s heard Lil Wayne’s ‘Rebirth’ cringe, it’s not too farfetched to think that he could pull it off. He’s got the charisma, aesthetic and knack for melody. Who knows what he’ll sound like over chugging guitars or Rob Cavallo production, but he’s got the rockstar style down pat, in his own alien way. ‘Luv Is Rage 2’ is the musical culmination of a lifestyle and character that’s uniquely Lil Uzi Vert, and no one else.
Luv Is Rage 2 is out now via Generation Now and Atlantic. The albums full track-listing is as follows…
03. Sauce It Up
04. No Sleep Leak
05. The Way Life Goes
06. For Real
07. Feelings Mutual
08. Neon Guts (feat. Pharrell)
09. Early 20 Rager
10. UnFazed (feat. The Weeknd)
11. Pretty Mami
12. How to Talk
15. Dark Queen
16. XO TOUR Llif3