Staying true to his rock star image, Lil Uzi Vert arrives fashionably late with his highly anticipated album “Luv Is Rage 2.”
His tardiness spurred many fans to grow restless as the album’s very existence was beginning to become something of an urban legend. The wait became increasingly hard to bear when the lead single, “XO TOUR Llif3,” took the internet by storm. However, not even losing all his friends or suffering a myriad of seemingly unwarranted delays was enough to break Uzi’s unruly spirit. Lil Uzi Vert embraces his rock star status on “Luv Is Rage 2” as he forgoes rapping and focuses almost exclusively on raw vocals.
First and foremost, Lil Uzi is the furthest thing from a lyricist. Saying he can rap is being generous. His rhyme schemes are about as simple as an eighth grader rapping to the “Grindin'” beat during lunch. Quite a few of his metaphors are generic or just plain corny, like when he says, “No, I’m not a rat, but I’m all about cheddar,” or “Rain, rain, go to the club, make it rain / You’ll get wet up like a sink.”
Despite his obvious deficiencies, I am glad Lil Uzi did not allow his detractors to pressure him into trying to improve in an area he has little hope of ever polishing. Rather than honing his lyrical abilities, the eccentric Uzi focuses on what made him a star – crafting vibrant songs with his melodies. Lil Uzi fully maximizes the fantastical instrumental given to him by DJ Don Cannon on “The Way Life Goes” by singing wistfully about his past relationship. In much the same way, Uzi sings candidly about the loss of friends and feelings on “XO TOUR Llif3” and “Feelings Mutual” while managing to sustain the upbeat energy of the album. Lil Uzi also shows a knack for changing his flow, too.
The production shows some great range while playing to Lil Uzi’s strengths. The tone of the overall album is rebellious and full of life as songs such as “Feelings Mutual” which made me think of carousels and carnivals. The bells on the song “Neon Guts,” which was produced by Pharrell, add a certain bounce to an instrumental that Uzi and the immortal Pharrell flow effortlessly over. One of the more interesting moments of the albums happens on “Early 20 Rager” where Maaly Raw’s production creates a frenetic ambiance that brings out the rock star in Uzi. Don Cannon, Wondagurl and Metro Boomin all do great jobs, as well, providing Lil Uzi with dynamic instrumentals he only has to top off with his voice.
However, this is where we encounter my main issue with the album. There are quite a few times during “Luv Is Rage 2” that I feel the instrumentals are overshadowing Lil Uzi. “No Sleep Leak” and “How to Talk” draw me in, only for Uzi to fail to hold my attention with lackluster performances. “444+222” is especially a chore to listen to, as the hook slowly bleeds into the verses, resulting in Uzi just annoyingly repeating himself. So while Uzi shows the ability to guide songs with his melodies and unique flows alone, this heavy reliance on the two causes his music to suffer mightily if he does not bring his 100 percent every song.
“Luv Is Rage 2” is no lyrical masterpiece. Rather, it is a canvas coated in colorful splashes. Lil Uzi’s musical direction is vivid yet without form as he attempts to channel his inner rocker. While the album certainly does not live up to the hype, it’s great to see Uzi acknowledging his strengths and embracing them.