The other day my close friend sent me a video on Snapchat which made me benevolently grin into my phone. His father, a 48-year-old man who worked as a teacher for most of his career, was holding a fidget spinner. As he let it spin in his hand, he looked at the object with a sense of bewilderment, trying to comprehend the most recent toy fad to sweep over the Western world. After about eight seconds, he sums up his experience by saying: “I’m missing something here.”
This is how I feel listening to Lil Uzi Vert.
Predicting who and what will become popular is, you know, impossible. Not only does it tend to be completely random, but it also shifts over time to reflect the state of pop culture, and young people’s sensibilities at mass. That’s what makes watching old people try and make sense of pop culture so funny – their sense of what should be popular is so far removed.
All that being said, I, a 19-year-old, don’t know what to make of Lil Uzi Vert (or fidget spinners). And that’s particularly weird, because, you know, I am pop culture. Or at least, I fall under the demographic that reflects pop culture.
And yet, even as a journalist who covers music, I continue to be surprised at how popular Lil Uzi Vert is.
I was introduced to the name just a year ago but his social media following – 4.3 million on Instagram, 1.8 million on Twitter, 1.7 million on Soundcloud, 2 million on YouTube – is that of an established artist.
His most popular song, “XO Tour Lif3,” peaked at #7 on the Hot 100, has 275 million hits on YouTube, and has gone 3x platinum. As I was writing this, the song won the VMA for “song of the summer,” which is completely baffling for reasons I shouldn’t have to spell out.
But for the sake of my greater point:
It’s dark, nihilistic, depressing, and is spearheaded by the chorus “Push me to the edge / All my friends are dead.” Needless to say, there is nothing summer-y about this song. And you know how the award for that was chosen? Fan vote. It fucking beat “Despacito” – the Bieber plagued, 16-week chart topper, most viewed YouTube video of all time “Despacito.”
I digress, but that’s just the latest example of the stunning popularity. Some say it’s the song that suggests rap is having a “punk moment.” Sure, Uzi’s influences, style, and antics liken to that of a rockstar. His music and image may pander to anyone looking for something to rebel against.
Needless to say, all these are ridiculous explanations; but shit, I can’t think of a better one.
My opinion of Luv is Rage 2 is distorted by confusion and bewilderment, much like my friends’ dad watching a $15 fidget spinner twirl in his hand.
It’s why we’re 500 words into this “review” and I still haven’t talked about the album because, well, I don’t know what to tell you.
It doesn’t sound too good to me.
The only thing worthwhile here is the Pharrell-assisted “Neon Guts” for its playful nature, and “The Way Life Goes” which is the only song that evokes anything substantive.
That’s really what it comes down to: there’s nothing to grasp onto here; or whatever it is I’m completely missing it. The production is almost always bland and predictable, the subject matter is repetitive and tiresome, and his tedious voice and nasally flow doesn’t appeal to me in the slightest.
Yet, that’s more of a subjective argument based on taste. What I simply can’t understand is the stupidity of it all. I’d be much more hesitant to publish something with the “Old Man Yelling at Cloud” theme if I could just write this off as something for youngsters that I didn’t understand. But Uzi Vert is fucking three years older than me – something he seems blissfully unaware of.
If you 25 and up you a old nigga point blank 🙁😂 ….2 🔥®
— Uzi London 🌎☄️💕® (@LILUZIVERT) August 4, 2017
He turned 23 in July.
To put it in perspective, Uzi makes reference to receiving sex (oral included) at twenty different instances on this album. There’s only three songs on here that don’t have at least one reference to it, one of which includes the line, “Felt the booty and it’s all there.”
Otherwise some of my favorites include:
“I met that bitch in a meeting / I fucked that bitch from the meeting”
“Hit from the back, fuck her stomach up / Cheerios, lick on my honey nuts”
While hip-hop has always existed in an uncomfortable ethos where some of its best rappers rely on misogyny and objectification for their lyrics, I really don’t think it’s ever been done in a way that’s so lazy and unoriginal. If it’s going to exist (and unfortunately, it will), at least make it exist in a sonic space that’s captivating, or have an MC who can evoke some type of feeling.
“I told that girl pull up her skirt / I am so high that I don’t wear no shirt
Talk about me, you fuck ’round go get murked
Reject your bitch with my dick when she jerk”
Those are the words of the man who’s become the fastest growing star in hip-hop.
I’ve never felt older.