Table Of Contents
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By Lil Uzi Vert
In July 2018, just short of a year after the release of LUV is Rage 2, Lil Uzi Vert began teasing a new album called Eternal Atake. Fans didn’t know it at the time, but this album would soon join the ranks of other massively hyped, never realized projects like 16*29, Yandhi, or even the fabled Kendrick Lamar & J. Cole tape.
As time passed Uzi was continually ensnared in issues with his record label Generation Now, leading him to claim his bosses DJ Drama and Don Cannon were holding him back for undisclosed reasons. In 2019 Lil Uzi claimed to have deleted everything and officially retired from music, presumably due to label related issues.
Eventually, after signing a management deal with Jay Z’s Roc Nation, Uzi began releasing new singles including “Sanguine Paradise” in early 2019 before claiming the album would be released in June. As the month came to a close without any hint of the album’s release, Uzi vanished into the woodwork claiming not to know when the album would release. In December, Uzi took to most concrete step towards releasing the album thus far upon the release of its lead single “Futsal Shuffle 2020”.
In the following two months, Uzi continued teasing the record with a public vote to determine the project’s album artwork on twitter and the release of another single, “That Way” an interpolation of the Back Street Boys hit “I Want It That Way”. Finally, on March 6th, the album dropped.
Eternal Atake clocks in at 62 minutes with 18 tracks divided into three segments, each representing a different persona. The first introduces Uzi’s “Baby Pluto” character. Musically, not a lot differentiates Baby Pluto from his other sounds and personas. The production and delivery on this stretch of the album definitely has a more futuristic and gritty edge, but tracks like “Pop” and “You Better Move” significantly hold this leg of the album back with their repetitive nature. This is balanced out mostly by the opener “Baby Pluto” and the last song in the section, “Homecoming” which both are on the stronger end of the spectrum. “Baby Pluto” features a brighter, more colorful sound while “Homecoming” has dissonant, jarring samples and production that adds some much-needed variety.
The middle of the album embodies Renji, another of Uzi’s monikers. Tracks like “I’m Sorry”, “Celebration Station”, and “Prices” are more melodic than those in the first third of the album, creating a little contrast. The other three tracks in this section aren’t bad but definitely feel like filler in a similar fashion to the other songs that bloated the first section of the record.
The final third of the album is meant to be Lil Uzi Vert pure and simple, without any other persona taking center stage. “Venetia” achieves this style, and could fit in any of his previous projects. “P2” is an interpolation of his chart-topping hit “XO Tour Llif3” with new lyrics and production but the same general structure and melody. While it is a nice callback to Uzi’s prime, it also feels like a bit of a lazy way to “close” the album especially considering the following two bonus tracks were previously released singles (albeit catchy ones).
At the end of the day, this album just feels unrefined. There are lots of creative ideas and points of growth from Uzis style on LUV is Rage 2, but it suffers from a large helping of tracks that range from filler to downright repetitive slogs (Looking at you, “You Better Move”). While all this holds the album back significantly, it still has gleaming moments of Uzi at the top of his game. Hopefully this style can be more masterfully integrated next time around.
I give Eternal Atake by Lil Uzi Vert a 2.5 out of 5.
Lil Uzi Vert vs. The World 2
By Lil Uzi Vert
Shortly after the March 6th release of Eternal Atake, Lil Uzi Vert began teasing a deluxe edition for the album. In an unusually open fashion, Uzi candidly talked about what tracks he was thinking of including and even seemed to take some requests. The day before its release, Uzi announced that Eternal Atake (Deluxe) would manifest as the next iteration of his Lil Uzi Vert vs. The World project instead of just a deluxe version. The record itself is full of various tracks, new and old, and embodies the earlier side of Uzi’s sound with more focus on color, melody, and upbeat energy than Eternal Atake.
The first thing you’ll notice about this project is that unlike the album it supplements, LUV vs. The World 2 is full of features from other notable artists. Rappers like Future, Young Thug, 21 Savage, and Chief Keef lend their voices to this project and show us again that Uzi sounds best when taking advantage of the musical chemistry he forms with other artists. On “Strawberry Peels” and “Wassup” Uzi meshes his delivery effortlessly with Young Thug and Future respectively, resulting in songs that are not only catchier but have a greater breakout potential than their predecessors on Eternal Atake.
The features aren’t the only good part of the album though – Uzi is better than ever on solo tracks too. “Myron”, “Moon Relate”, and “Trap This Way” all remind us why we fell in love with Uzi’s infectious charisma years ago when he broke onto the scene. Although Uzi’s lyrics aren’t anything to write home about, I can appreciate how he can give even more somber subject matter like that on “Moon Relate” his own vivacious personal flair.
While this record definitely has its low points like Nav’s characteristically robotic, lifeless vocals on the closing track “Leaders”, it still brings to mind more of the Uzi I love than Eternal Atake. It’s 20 minutes shorter, but that helps trim down on filler and makes each moment that much more memorable. When paired with the wealth of fun guest features, LUV vs. The World 2 just has more solid ground to stand on than Eternal Atake and will definitely be getting more playtime from me.
I give Lil Uzi Vert vs. The World 2 by Lil Uzi Vert a 3 out of 5.
By Megan Thee Stallion
This new record by Megan Thee Stallion is, much like her, straight to the point. Only 9 tracks and 24 minutes long, Suga doesn’t waste any time making its points.
“Aint Equal”, “Savage”, “Captain Hook”, and “Rich” all fall within Meg’s standard sex-positive, in-your-face, trap banger sound. Each track has its own appeal and they all do well to stay distinct from one another while still occupying the same space, a feat which seems to be lost on many artists in the spotlight.
Meg shows her softer side on poppier, RnB infused tracks like “B.I.T.C.H.” and “Hit My Phone” featuring Kehlani. Whereas the four tracks mentioned prior are all about stone-cold bars and hype, these two have infectious and unforgettable hooks and smoother, catchier delivery.
Those two tracks weren’t the only sweeter cuts from Meg – the three final tracks on the record (“Stop Playing”, “Crying In The Car”, and “What I Need”) all occupy a similar niche but with much more autotune. In this moment, Meg loses a lot of the momentum generated during the first two-thirds of the record. The usage of autotune is so thick and overpowering that it sucks away any and all of Meg’s character from these final tracks. Gunna’s typically generic delivery does even more to sap this stretch of identity and verve, leading to a mediocre ending to an otherwise solid, hard-hitting EP.
I give Suga by Megan Thee Stallion a 3.5 out of 5.
By Code Orange
Code Orange made their first splash in the hardcore scene in 2012 with Love is Love/Return to Dust, going by the moniker Code Orange Kids at the time. In the years since then, the band has blown up and garnered attention from metal fans across the spectrum because of their unique style and blend of influences. Following 2017’s Forever and 2018’s The Hurt Will Go On, Underneath represents a new milestone in their career and the development of their style.
As prior albums show, Code Orange has a visceral and raw take on the standard hardcore sound with fuzzy, clipping vocals and guitars. Aside from this, the band is known for their glitchy production, with harsh synths and stuttering riffs creating an air of tension and volatility. Both of these aspects of their sound are developed in rare form here, as the percussive screams of Eric Balderose and his co-vocalists are as vicious as the production is jolting and unpredictable. Stylistic touches like this help the band stand out, adding much more texture and color to their riffs and breakdowns than in those of their contemporaries.
“In Fear”, “Cold.Metal.Place”, and “Erasure Scan” have a sordid and cruel sound, equally alluring and terrifying to listeners. Other tracks like “You And You Alone” and “Last Ones Left” focus on pure energy and aggression with headbanging, stomping rhythms and hooks.
The biggest points of growth for Code Orange in this record are more in the melodic side of their sound, despite the great improvements shown on the heavier end. Songs like “Who I Am” and “A Sliver” take nu-metal influences from late 90s bands like Korn, seeking to unnerve and intrigue listeners in equal measure with winding, hypnotic melodies and shouting choruses. On “Sulfur Surrounding”, the musical direction takes inspiration from grunge music and all its stylistic habits while still cramming in pummeling riffs.
All of these sonic explorations coalesce on the final track, “Underneath”, which is brimming with eviscerating riffs, screeching guitar leads, and an invigorating blend of clean and harsh vocals. A great note to end the record on, and a great song to name the album for as well. Underneath is an excellent evolution on Code Orange’s already well-developed formula and brings them one step closer towards Hardcore dominance.
I give Underneath by Code Orange a 4 out of 5.
Other New Releases
There’s not enough time for me to give a full review to every project that comes out – so here’s the rest of the new music that I listened to this week but didn’t have a chance to review. Releases with a star next to the title are the ones I liked most!
By Trivium // Single
By Amine // Single
Heaven Or Hell
By Don Toliver // Album
A Written Testimony
By Jay Electronica // Album