Lil Uzi Vert doesn’t rap for you.
He raps for the up-and-coming rapper, telling them that they can get to his level if they grind hard enough but will never have the cars and women he’s amassed. His return to the music game after a near three-year absence since his last album, 2017’s “Luv Is Rage 2,” features a charcuterie of whips and women, all organized into the 16-track “Eternal Atake,” and it shows the Philly rapper at his best.
Many rap albums are about things like this. Rarely does a Lil Dicky rise up and make rap for the common people, and no one really wants that anyway. There’s a reason Ferraris cost more than Fords: The genre has always been aspirational. “Atake” rises above the ever-growing field of modern melodic-rap projects for two reasons.
For one, Uzi’s sophomore effort is constructed like an hour-long alien abduction. That isn’t a really obscure musical reference, it’s literal; in the intros and outros of many of the tracks on here, Uzi is being sucked into an extraterrestrial spaceship. For a genre that has always encouraged creativity, it’s great to see one of the faces of rap continue to push forward into this new decade. The structure of “Atake” goes beyond its out-of-this-world concept — every track on here fits between three and four minutes, which isn’t impressive in itself, but in a time when quick runtimes can mean big paychecks in the streaming world, hearing fleshed out and finished songs is a breath of fresh air.
Dude I drop the first half of EA second half of Album ON THE WAY 🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🛸
— BABY PLUTO 🌎☄️💕® (@LILUZIVERT) March 9, 2020
Second, it’s just Uzi. It’s unprofessional for me to be unable to describe a quality as a music journalist, but it’s just Uzi. His pure energy pushes this album beyond its already killer samples and production and just presses it to a different level through his pure and uncut vigor. It’s almost like he needed three years to charge up for this thing, because some of these songs sound like he was fired out of a cannon on Broad Street. It’s mightily impressive. “Celebration Station” shows Uzi at his finest, refusing to step off his hyperspeed rhythm, landing like a gymnast on a feverish hook. It’s the exact zeitgeist of where we are right now in music, and it’s remarkably impressive for someone who ruminated in the background as that shifted at a rapid pace.
Three years is an eon in modern music. Desiigner’s whole career fit in that span. It shows to Uzi’s staying potential that he may come out of this era at a higher level than when he left his last. As someone who always walks the tightrope between singing and rapping in most of his songs — his earlier songs like 2017’s “XO Tour Llif3” were largely the former — Uzi raps better on here than he ever has. There’s simply no other way to put it: This is explicitly hip-hop, and undeniably Uzi.
Daniel Cohn is the associate managing editor for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.