“YAH! YAH! YAH! YAH!” Regardless of whether or not you’ve ever bought a Lil Uzi Vert album or downloaded one of his mixtapes, his signature call on Migos’ smash hit “Bad and Boujee” and accompanying video launched the Philadelphia, PA artist into a new stratosphere of fame. His style fits into the modern trap/wavy era of hip-hop, with sung vocals that are heavy AutoTuned and/or modulated, where having a charismatic presence is at least as important (if not significantly more) than having incredible lyrics. Vert (real name Symere Woods) fits into this mold like alcohol into gelatin mold shots, which until very recently he wouldn’t even have been old enough to legally consume. He’s 23 and grown now, so Vert can party all he wants, and that’s what his style and sound is definitely the best suited for.
The title “Luv Is Rage 2” is a bit of a curiosity though and not just because his major label debut for Atlantic Records is already a sequel. That part is easily explained since his third mixtape “Luv Is Rage” came out late in 2015, so his official debut is just a sequel to something his fans would already know and appreciate. That’s just smart marketing. Why the “rage” though? Vert is young and popular and in demand. He can probably get as lit as he wants anywhere he goes and always have a flock of h… err attractive female company. The rage may come from breaking up with his stylist Brittany Byrd though, something he may be addressing on “The Way Life Goes.”
“Diamonds on your neck, ice all on my wrist
Complement my style
She don’t want me I’m running wild
You know I respect her on that level
She don’t want me then I’ma let her
Go over there with that broke fella
Walk off my Saint Laurent, that leather
My new chick I swear that she better”
That Ike Beatz and Don Cannon produced song works well enough for me, and the fact he’s telling a story I can follow with his bars makes me think Vert has more going on than some of his other critics suggested. This is not the first single off “Luv Is Rage 2” though, or even a single at all at this point – that would be “XO Tour Llif3” produced by TM88 and JW Lucas.
“I don’t really care if you cry
On the real you should’ve never lied
Should’ve saw the way she looked me in my eyes
She said baby I am not afraid to, die
Push me to the edge
All my friends are dead”
Damn. Maybe love IS rage for young Mr. Woods. “You’re the worst, you’re the worst” croons Vert, pushing himself to the edge with seemingly self-reinforcing nihilism a la Tupac Shakur. He gives the impression he’s already lost too much and doesn’t care about his own life, but with the amount of success that continues to come his way, that may start to change. The Pharrell produced and guest starred “Neon Guts” hints that there’s more for Vert in this world than pain and rage.
“Purple thoughts in my brain, hope it don’t spill
Stay with a nerd just like Urkel, Jaleel
Fresh just like Carlton, I kill em with Will
Big ass ‘R’ on my Smiths
Big ass ‘R’ on my whips
Slip-on shoes, so you won’t trip
Said she kinda fine if she got some hips”
Later Vert brags that he has a “new crib, got a better yard” and that after “two years” he’s got “hella cars.” Maybe with all that’s going his way he’ll change his next release to “Rage Is Luv.” You’re certainly not doing bad when you get Pharrell to feature on one song and The Weeknd (“UnFazed”) to star on another on your album. How is that album overall though? Well it’s not a short album. Vert delivers nearly a full hour of music with very little that could be called filler – in fact there’s not a single skit or interlude and no song is shorter than 2:53. For a young man who came up making his name on mixtapes that’s respectable and commendable. As for today’s singing rappers, Vert fits in comfortably next to the likes of Fetty Wap and French Montana, and I have little qualms with calling him a better writer than the latter.
The production is a little bit more of a mixed bag. The closest thing to consistency is that Don Cannon produces or co-produces 6 of 16 tracks, but even there it’s all over the map as “Two” sounds like accordion hip-hop and “No Sleep Leak” is all big bass and watery percussion while “eating oysters and swordfish.” Vert’s eclectic production makes him a bit inscrutable as an artist, which is arguably his intention on “Luv Is Rage 2.” He’s young and getting it right now so he has no need to be pinned down to one specific sound or style. He’s unapologetically misogynistic and has no time for women who aren’t sucking him or f–king him, so there is that, and while this is unintentionally dismissive of something that shouldn’t be glossed over he’s far from the worst I’ve heard. Some songs like the Illmind co-produced “Pretty Mami” suggest he might even develop respect for the diversity of different women he could get with. I think the WondaGurl production”Malfunction” might sum up Vert’s style and attitude best though.
“Put money ahead and I move with the bread
But I do not need a toaster
Diamond, water, I’m the boatster
Pull up right there in the roadster
She ain’t want me, I was so hurt
I was broke just like Joe Dirt
Where you from, throw it up, nigga
I’m from the lowest part of Earth
No one wants to die alone
They don’t wanna miss the show
It’s funny time missed us both
We all got (a) time when we will go”
That’s Vert – living for today and not assuming there’s going to be a tomorrow. I’d like to suggest he’s wrong but with the President we have now he might be right.