If you follow rap news a little bit, or if you even just accidentally stumble into a recommended video about it on a service like YouTube, you’ve probably heard that Playboi Carti isn’t a nice dude. I submit to you I’ve heard more about how he treats women than I’ve heard of his actual music. It makes you wonder why anybody would willingly get into a relationship with him, given his entire reputation boils down to “I’m either beating or cheating” — with the number one worst charge being that he assaulted his girlfriend when she was 14 weeks pregnant. For the sake of being impartial though I’ll note two things though. First, Jordan Carter should be considered innocent until proven guilty of anything in a court of law. Second, we know that any successful or famous rapper gets more haters than average. Everybody from the cops to the opps wants to take you down a notch. I don’t know if all the accusations against him are fake, but I’d be surprised if at least one person wasn’t talking shit on him just to hurt his name and career.

Also for the sake of fairness I decided it was time to listen to a full album of his music and evaluate where he was coming from as an artist. I choose “Die Lit” because that was his first official studio album and first release to get worldwide distribution. He had a couple of mixtapes before this under a different name (Sir Cartier) but to me that was too young in his career to fairly judge him by. “Die Lit” also represented a point in his career where he was well enough known for making cameos on other rap songs to have achieved commercial recognition. He wouldn’t have gotten his deal if people didn’t know who he was. I’m not sure I did either though once I heard Skepta rapping with him on “Lean 4 Real.” It’s a collaboration that pleasantly surprised me.

I need more of this “Atlanta to England” connection from rappers. Connects are something Carti seemed to have no shortage of though at this point in his career. Young Thug guest starts on “Choppa Won’t Miss.” Bryson Tiller drops in for “Fell In Luv.” “Mileage” features Chief Keef and “Poke It Out” features Nicki Minaj. At some point I stopped being surprised by just how many cameos he was able to pull and started being surprised how few of these songs had videos. I mean seriously now — how are you going to have Nicki on the album and NOT do a video with her? The official audio doesn’t even have a thumbnail or picture. It’s pitch black for 270 seconds.

At least I’ve found things to talk about with “Die Lit” other than his legal problems. The release has done over “1.1 million album equivalent units” which is this decade’s version of saying you’ve gone platinum. Why not promote the album harder then? If it was that successful lean into it and really pump out the clips to showcase it. I couldn’t even find a clip for his hit single “Shoota” with fellow Soundcloud generation rapper Lil Uzi Vert. Oh there are unofficial fan made videos for the song but none from the artist or the label he’s signed to themselves. It’s strange as hell.

After an hour of listening to Playboi Carti by himself and with his friends, the harshest thing I can say about him is “he’s aight.” If there’s one thing you can glean from songs like “Foreign” it’s that he’s in the exact same lane as most of his collaborators. He likes having money, he likes spending it on expensive things, and he likes bragging about both. He wants you to know how much sex he’s having, the fact that he’s got a beautiful lady to bone anywhere he goes, and that he’s so dapper and connected that he “walk in that lobby like Gotti.” Well Gotti died in a federal prison so let’s hope Carti doesn’t emulate him too much.

I can’t say for certain whether or not Playboi Carti is a good person, but “Die Lit” is good background music. I wish I could offer you a stronger position than that, but given how little separation there is between him and his peers lyrically or musically, I just can’t do it. He’s not mangling tracks with a terrible flow, but he’s also not saying anything innovative compared to his contemporaries. I’m not asking him to be profound or introspective, but a little more originality in his topic matter or how he talks about conspicuous consumption wouldn’t hurt. He’s okay. I came into this expecting to hate him just based on his reputation so “he’s okay” is still a win.

Playboi Carti :: Die Lit
6.5Overall Score