Lil Uzi Vert- “Luv is Rage 2”
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Symere Woods, more commonly known as Lil Uzi Vert, is a Philadelphia-based rapper known for pioneering in what is known as “mumble rap,” a style of hip-hop consisting of trap-flavored beats and “mumbled” verses. While many a rapper overdo the technique, Lil Uzi Vert is typically very coherent and has a steady, engaging flow. That is one of the best things about him, actually: his flow is absolutely incredible. No matter what beat he is given, he manages to keep up with it at all times, whether he is rapping normally or going into overtime. Also, his production is absolutely banging: the original Luv is Rage has some of the best production I have ever heard on songs like “Enemies” and “Safe House.” While the next two mixtapes were fun listens, neither gave me the adrenaline rush that Luv is Rage offered, but Luv is Rage 1.5 was pretty damn great, albeit a bit short. Tracks like “LUV SCARS K.o. 1600” and, of course, “XO Tour Llif3” were what I wanted to hear. Now, a few months later, the long-anticipated, 16-track, 56-minute Luv is Rage 2 has finally dropped.
Luv is Rage 2 is different in tone from previous Uzi projects. It’s much more focused on making more conventional trap-rap tracks, so much so that even when “banger” tracks such as “444+222” and “Early 20 Rager” come on, they don’t go as hard as previous efforts. “Two®” lets you know right away that this isn’t going to be a bass-fueled, party hard trap-rap project, which is not a bad thing at all. In fact, it’s quite the contrary. These tracks sound a lot more focused, and the production is far more mellowed out, even melancholic. This should be expected after the success of “XO Tour Llif3,” but I feel like in the short period of time between then and now, he’s managed to score up some of the best production available for this sort of vibe, with tracks like “Sauce it Up” and “Feeling Mutual” managing to sound simultaneously upbeat and depressed, while “How to Talk” has a much darker flavor.
Sadness and depression drive Luv is Rage 2. In a recent interview, Uzi confirmed that this LP revolves around his breakup with longtime girlfriend Brittany Byrd, a topic explored back on “XO Tour Llif3,” but not to this extent. Uzi is by no means an amazing lyricist, as lyrics like “I like that girl too much, I wish I never met her” and “Hope this song don’t really hurt you” are very straightforward, but his delivery makes up for his simplicity. From his days on Luv is Rage, I always thought Uzi had one of the best flows in the trap rap game, but on this LP, Uzi sounds like he is legitimately scared of a future without love, reminding me of how Lorde presented herself on Melodrama. He sounds tortured and vulnerable, things we don’t usually associates with trap-rappers, if at all.
There are track like “No Sleep Leak,” of course, that focus on his life of luxury and careless spending rather than his emotional torment, putting us squarely in the trap-rap comfort zone. Lyrics like “I was broke yesterday, I was rich by the morning” pop up with some frequency, showing that this back-and-forth between joy and sorrow is cyclical for Uzi, and maybe even inescapable. On “Two®,” we have Uzi rapping about how he should be praised as an hip-hop innovator. Is this conceited? Perhaps, but there is certainly an argument for him. At the end of this track, however, Uzi starts talking about how the famous life is a dangerous one, and addresses the poor state of his romantic relationship, tying these things to his greatness. He’s not the strongest lyrically, but his presentation make even his weakest bars sounds great.
There are only two features on Luv is Rage 2, but they are pretty damn big ones: Pharrell Williams on “Neon Guts,” and The Weeknd on “UnFazed.” Truthfully, the Pharrell feature does absolutely nothing for me. As a matter of fact, I didn’t know where he even came in for quite some time, as Pharrell does nothing to stand out, which is a must on a track with a person as unique as Uzi. Conversely, “UnFazed” is one of my favorite tracks on Luv is Rage 2 thanks to The Weeknd. Granted, I fall in love anytime I hear The Weeknd’s voice, but the darker tone of “UnFazed” compliments both The Weeknd and Uzi well. They’re in their element on this song. Oddly enough, my biggest problem with this LP is the inclusion of “XO Tour Lli3.” Although it’s one of my favorite songs in the genre, it doesn’t belong, especially following “Dark Queen,” a very melancholic track song featuring a depressed Uzi rapping about his mother. It ruins the moment, and on top of that, there’s absolutely nothing to differentiate from this version from the one on Luv is Rage 1.5, making it all the more pointless.
Even so, this is easily the best Lil Uzi Vert project yet. I didn’t think he could top Luv Is Rage after the previous two mixtapes, but this is easily one of the best things to come out of trap-rap. The production is amazing, Uzi’s personality is on full display, and despite a lackluster Pharrell feature, it’s an artistic accomplishment to judge other trap-rap by. I’m excited to see where Lil Uzi Vert can go from here.
- Alex Brown