Music has been integral to my life as it is to so many. Growing up, a radio would always be turned on close to me, with lots of time spent in the car, or in gym class with the stereo bumping, or inserting CDs into my players (specifically dancing to Lil Wayne), I’ve always had an affinity for great tunes. This past year has saw me expand my horizons beyond the samey shuffle and playlists that have been developed for a few years. Instead of grasping on to what I know, I ventured out into alternative, to the classics I haven’t shined as much light on, and honing in my love for hip hop. It’s clear if you know me or see any of my musical activity/influence that my “at home” genre is hip hop. It’s what I grew up resonating with, the culture I’ve found enthralling, the drama, the personalities, and the priceless influence its had on my life. Since freshman year of high school with my discovery of Logic, The Underachievers, Mac Miller, A$AP Rocky, Danny Brown, and others, I’ve become a hip hop head. As I still have so much history to dive into, documentaries and interviews and freestyles and countless other resources to study, I’ve grasped onto 2017 in my favorite genre harder than ever, and so has the rest of the world, specifically the USA. This year, for the first time ever, hip hop/R&B has “officially” become the most consumed genre.
The 23-year-old Philly sensation Lil Uzi Vert has won my heart in the past year and a half. Constantly trying to decide what has more bangers between The Perfect Luv Tape and Luv is Rage 2 is a difficult task, but one pulling at my heart-strings. Both these projects have meant a lot to me, though more fascinating to look at how much time I’ve spent consuming Luv is Rage 2 over….and over…..and over…..and over. The Perfect Luv Tape was the perfect summer album circa 2016. It possessed young and free anthems, a coming out party with a trophy showcase of bangers such as “Ronda (Winners)“, “Do What I Want“, “I Can Drive“, and Future coming through per usual on “Seven Million“. It ran 30 minutes and regardless of the order pumped me up all energized. Fast forward to a year and a month later as Luv is Rage 2 drops in late August. Luv is Rage 1.5 dropped as a prequel in the spring on SoundCloud, but we’re going to be talking about the most important aspect of that forgettable 4 track EP regardless, XO Tour Llif3. Luv is Rage 2 is not the same kind of summer flag barer. It’s a statement as to how Uzi has grown as a musical mind, as a person, and a comprehension of how to spice up a genre. Not just alone either, with a delicious buffet of instrumentation and features. Nearly double the length, it’s the definition of a glow up. XO Tour Llif3 was the song of the summer through my lens. It was one of the most streamed songs of the summer, according to Spotify. It was also the most streamed song on SoundCloud in 2017 with 153 MILLION streams.
I’d be remiss not to mention the fact that Luv is Rage 2 also tops the charts of album streams on SoundCloud. It’s a wondrous dreamy sequence of dark thought, similar to “The Way Life Goes” (Josephine Vander Gucht is flawless on vocals). Between “Sauce it Up“, “For Real“, ambitious and empowering features/writing from Pharrell Williams on “Neon Guts“, a song I wear on my sleeve as I’ve become more comfortable in my skin, and The Weeknd shining his star aura on “Unfazed“, the features were all home runs as Uzi was on top of his game in every conceivable way. There is not a single piece of filler in the entire album, it works in any sequence if you’re looking for a fun listening experience, and Uzi was able to explore more romance and his past, dive deeper in banger territory, and possess the confidence to deliver an hour full of new sounds, unexpected combinations, spacey vibes, and continuous references to his new lifestyle, his new fame — his glow up. You ain’t gotta lie, he’s got the money and the power. As we head into 2018, Uzi will continue to be one of the most distinctive artists in the world, as well as one of my favorites. His confidence and individuality is at an all time high, and as he continues to rise, I’ll be waiting on the rock album with MARILYN FREAKING MANSON. Need I say more? I’m one of the many youth that takes solace in the fact that Lil Uzi Vert indeed does what he wants.