Lil Uzi Shows Personal Growth in New Album “Luv is Rage 2”
Issue   |   Tue, 09/26/2017 - 23:57
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“Luv is Rage 2” includes tracks such as “Two,” where he opens up on the effects of fame, as well as tracks like “Sauce it Up” that revert back to his club-song style.

On Aug. 25th, Lil Uzi Vert released his premier studio album, “Luv Is Rage 2.” The Philadelphia-based rapper is known for his mixtapes “Lil Uzi Vert vs. the World” and “The Perfect LUV Tape” as well as features on songs such as Migos’ chart-topping “Bad and Boujee.” “Luv Is Rage 2” spans 16 tracks, featuring the wildly popular hit “XO TOUR Llif3,” along with top streaming songs “Sauce It Up” and “The Way Life Goes.” Uzi’s signature trap beats and themes from previous projects pervade the album. However, he demonstrates a newfound emotional and thematic range, signaling both personal and artistic growth from his past works.

In his previous albums, Uzi exhibited a teenager’s playful exuberance by almost exclusively singing anthems about chasing girls and buying cars. On “Luv Is Rage 2,” he reveals his darker side by devoting a portion of the album to his more painful experiences and his coping mechanisms for these times. He begins by admitting on “Two®” that “the fame is life, it’ll eat you up alive.” In “UnFazed,” a brooding, bass-heavy track set to a sinister piano beat, Uzi enlists The Weeknd to boast: “take three Xannies like a hat trick / Take another pill for that magic.” In “Feelings Mutual,” Uzi acknowledges that even though it’s “not [his] first merry-go-round,” after his breakup he’s so hurt that he “can’t feel no more.” When he breaks up with his girlfriend, he attempts to stay ambivalent by telling her: “I don’t really care if you cry” in “XO TOUR Llif3.” In “Dark Queen,” over a slow, sad beat interspersed with hi-hats, Uzi begins to prove his maturity by revealing that he dreads the day that his mother passes away: “Don’t care about this money, don’t care about them cars / Lose my momma that’s a problem you can’t solve.” Not only does Uzi finally display an emotion other than joviality and jealousy, he also allows himself to be vulnerable.

Uzi’s transformation is on full display in “The Way Life Goes.” Reminiscing about how his past lover didn’t care about his wealth, he realizes “that just goes to show me money don’t attract a thing.” Drawing on all of his experiences and the pain he’s endured, he assures the listener: “I know it hurts sometimes but you’ll get over it / You’ll find another life to live.” This revelation and advice is a turning point in Uzi’s persona. He no longer needs to self-medicate or find another girl to get over a failed relationship. He channels his previously childlike energy into a practical, positive outlook.

In addition to his introspective and intense works, Uzi manages to successfully apply his signature style to other songs on the album. On “Neon Guts,” a lively ode to the pursuit of a positive attitude set over a xylophone, Uzi and Pharrell both sing “dark energy, we don’t touch.” On “How to Talk,” Uzi exuberantly asks his girlfriend to “talk to [him] nice.” In “Sauce It Up,” a song tailor-made for parties, he raps over a catchy, energetic and up-tempo beat replete with hi-hats and a pulsing bass. Like always, Uzi’s upbeat songs are both melodious and fun.

There are instances in the album when Uzi’s struggles take a back seat to his bread-and-butter mainstream rap tropes. “444+222,” “Pretty Mami” and “No Sleep Leak” all focus on sex, drugs and money. Yes, convention dictates that these themes must be present somewhere in a commercial rap album, but it doesn’t mean that they can’t add any artistic or aesthetic value to the songs that contain them. However, these songs are a minor blemish on an otherwise excellent album. With an extensive production cast, which includes well-known artists like Pharrell, Maaly Raw, DJ Don Cannon, Wondagurl and Metro Boomin, the production makes up for the occasional lack of lyrical depth in this album, ranging from a version of Uzi’s trademark accordion appearing in “Two®” to base-heavy tracks like “Early 20 Rager” and “X.” Epic party anthems that can stand alone as singles like “XO TOUR Llife 3” and “Sauce it Up” bring commercial viability and general appeal to the album as a whole.

Artists attain new levels of fame when either the sound or the message of their music resonates with their audience. Uzi’s latest album aims to do both. Some of his songs discuss the universally understood pain and depression that follow breakups. Others express his desire to stay positive and have fun. Both sides of Uzi in this album form a cohesive work; his challenge in his future projects will be to balance his newfound range. At 23 years old, Uzi is still just a kid. However, with “Luv Is Rage 2,” he proves that he’s on his way to growing up.