Philadelphia rapper Lil Uzi Vert wears colorful braids, designer garments, and a septum nose piercing. Based off his appearance, you’d expect the same type of flamboyant and erratic themes in his records. On his debut album, “Luv Is Rage 2,” the emo-grunge hip-hop artist displays why his brand of music, style, and personality is so popular amongst a new generation of rap enthusiasts.
Following up on mixtape “Luv is Rage” and EP “The Perfect Luv Tape,” Uzi continues to layer on his unique flow with catchy rhythms, mostly produced by Don Cannon. Part love ballad to his ex-girlfriend Brittany Byrd, part coming to terms with heartache, “Luv is Rage 2” mostly maintains a dark theme all the way until the hit closer, “XO Tour Lif3.”
The entire album, as well as Uzi’s demeanor, is encapsulated by “The Way Life Goes.” Putting his vulnerability on display, he reassures himself that time will heal all in the chorus and expresses his regrets in the verses, singing his heart out for his lost lover. The song is so powerful that Nicki Minaj went on record to say that she would like to be featured on it.
“Sauce it Up,” a hit first previewed on Uzi’s Instagram Livestream on June 21, 2017, sees the rapper talking about his influence on the rap and culture game today. He brags about influential connections and his sense of style: “I was on the phone, yeah with Playboi Carti/Comme des Garcons, hearts all on my cardi’.” This isn’t the only time he references his longtime friend Playboi Carti, as he uses the “Broke Boi” ad-lib on “The Way Life Goes.” It’s a standard trap banger that even a casual rap fan would recognize as Lil Uzi.
Probably the most engaging track on this album, “Neon Guts” is a fun, funky, and fresh variation of Uzi’s usual morose screaming and blaring bass that critics often gripe about. It features music and fashion icon Pharrell Williams, as the two play tug of war to sing the catchiest bar.
Clever and creative imagery act as a refresher from the downtrodden arc of the album’s progression. “Just took a blue one, ‘bout to take the red pill/Purple thoughts in my brain, hope it don’t spill/Stay with the nerd just like Urkel Jaleel/Fresh like Carlton, I kill em with Will,” Uzi chants, to Pharrell’s rebuttal: “Higher than Elon Musk/So high stars eat our dust/And I got a colorful aura/Like I got neon guts.”
Lil Uzi’s candor is his saving grace for people who dislike his unique hip-hop/emo fusion style. All of Uzi’s quirks – his proliferate emoji usage on Twitter, his clever wordplay (Luv is an acronym for his initials), even the demonic undertones – serve to add to his mystifying and captivating character. “Luv is Rage 2” perfectly reflects Uzi’s eccentricity.