Noah Hawke is a Hoya Staff Writer.
Riding on the success of his greatest hit and song of the summer, “XO Tour Llif3,” hip-hop artist Lil Uzi Vert has finally dropped his highly anticipated debut studio album, “Luv is Rage 2.” The Philadelphia-based rapper began his professional career in 2014, receiving recognition within the local hip-hop community for his distinctive rap style, which incorporates twisted rock and Atlanta trap. Although his features on hits like Migos’ “Bad and Boujee” and “RAF” by A$AP Mob have helped him reach wider audiences, Lil Uzi Vert’s latest project has cemented his status as a bona fide rap star.
“Luv is Rage 2” is reaching audiences almost two years after the release of the original “Luv Is Rage” tape, which was filled with new wave trap tracks. Since then, Lil Uzi Vert has shown tremendous progress. Lil Uzi Vert stated on Twitter that his purpose for this album was to “show the youth how to format real songs ,” and he has certainly accomplished this goal, showing listeners that he has a new talent for songwriting, relying less on ad-libs and gimmicks.
The project is, at its core, a breakup album. From 2014 to 2016, Lil Uzi Vert dated stylist Brittany Byrd, who had a heavy influence on his life and music. The album’s lead single, “XO Tour Llif3,” is, in fact, dedicated to their breakup and Lil Uzi Vert’s complex emotions surrounding it. Although the album is underscored by his depression and post-breakup abuse of prescription painkillers, Lil Uzi Vert still managed to produce 16 upbeat trap tracks, reminiscent of the style of Future and similar artists.
With production credits from a slew of industry heavy-hitters and frequent collaborators like Maaly Raw, Don Cannon and Metro Boomin, the album remains true to Lil Uzi Vert’s signature trap-rock sound.
On the album’s opening track, “Two,” Lil Uzi Vert raps about how he now “has money and the power” in the music industry, yet struggles with the fame that he has experienced and its effects on his personal life. “The famous life, it’ll eat you up alive/It’s a game, and I put my feelings to the side,” he raps. In fact, Lil Uzi Vert has stated in the past to The FADER Magazine that he hates being famous and would not choose a lifestyle of fame if he did not have a family to support. Lil Uzi Vert raps about how he strives to provide for his mother in particular. On “Dark Queen,” which is written as a tribute to her, Lil Uzi Vert raps, “When I was small, momma made me tall.”
Lil Uzi Vert continues to maintain elements of trap and rock in his music, combining the two beautifully on “No Sleep Leak,” in which he makes references to rock legend Marilyn Manson.
On the same track, he also delves into missing his ex, saying he thinks “A lot of her but don’t really wanna bother [her].” Throughout the album, Lil Uzi Vert presents slightly differing accounts on his feelings for Byrd, revealing the complicated tangle of his emotions. On “Pretty Mami,” originally a rough cut released on DJ Drama’s radio show alongside four other tracks that did not appear on the album, Lil Uzi Vert raps, “Girl you took an L and we can see that/Stevie Wonder, Ray Charles, yeah, don’t you see that.” The implication is clear; Byrd has made a mistake.
From start to finish, the album is full of hit songs, from more slow-paced, ruminative tracks to dance-floor bangers. Lil Uzi Vert brilliantly delves into his emotional state with thoughtful lyrics and passion. Byrd was truly an integral part of Lil Uzi Vert’s life — and career — for years. But now, the rapper is growing comfortable being his own person and owning the success he has achieved.
Despite the uncertainty of the future, Lil Uzi Vert is ready. He does not have time for negativity anymore, rapping “Talk to me nice/Or don’t talk to me at all” on “How To Talk.” Finally content with his career and personal life, Lil Uzi Vert is embarking on his next life chapter, one that is sure to bring more great music. “Luv” may have failed Lil Uzi Vert this time, but time heals all wounds. As he says on fan-favorite track “The Way Life Goes,” “I know it hurts sometimes, but you’ll get over it/You’ll find another life to live.”