Last month, Lil Uzi Vert shocked the rap community by finally releasing his long-anticipated, leak-plagued sophomore album, Eternal Atake. After years of cryptic Instagram posts and tweets, followed by label drama and who else knows what, he teased the album in early March with a surprise trailer, sending fans into a frenzy. Uzi then dropped the 18-track Eternal Atake on March 6, after originally slating it for March 13. As if that weren’t enough, Uzi fans rejoiced as he took to Twitter a few hours later to announce a 14-track deluxe version was on the way, titled LUV vs. The World 2, a sequel to his critically acclaimed 2016 mixtape. I’ve chosen to do a two-part review on both of these releases because it feels like two different albums and I believe they deserve individual reviews.
It’s important to note that within the hardcore fan-base Uzi has acquired, it’s well known that the Eternal Atake we received isn’t necessarily the Eternal Atake that had been teased since 2017. The whole album was scrapped due to one of the most egregious series of leaks of the decade and it was unsure whether that project would see the light of day. At one point Uzi even threatened to quit music altogether. Leaks definitely put artists in compromising situations and some never recover, but it feels like Uzi sharpened his pencil – this is his most impressive release to date.
Since we receive music at the most insanely rapid pace in history, to say fans had given up hope on this project would be an understatement. Nobody knew what to expect, except for the space-cult theme that Uzi had been envisioning for years, and what we got was a well-calculated, fun album. After teasing artwork that resembled the infamous Heaven’s Gate cult in 2018, fans had a rough idea of what Uzi’s vision was.
Throughout the album, Uzi details his experience of being abducted by an extraterrestrial cult of purple robe-clad women, which you can see on his Instagram page and the album artwork. At the end of select songs throughout the album, Uzi takes us on the journey with him in sketch form, which incentivizes you to listen cover to cover to get the full scope.
On Eternal Atake, Uzi separates himself into three personas: Baby Pluto, Renji, and Lil Uzi Vert, each having their moment on the album and their journeys documented throughout. Although he hasn’t confirmed, it’s thought that Baby Pluto is an homage to Future. This is particularly noticeable on the first six tracks of the record. This is the best I’ve heard Uzi lyrically. “Baby Pluto,” the album’s opener, sets the bar high with Uzi floating over a high-tempo space-like beat, followed by “Lo Mein,” another insanely catchy song with a cosmic instrumental. The Baby Pluto portion of the album seems to reflect Uzi’s bragging side, with hardly any melodic raps. The heat turns up on “Silly Watch,” and seems to end on “Homecoming.” Uzi is in his bag throughout this sequence, rapping about cars, clothes, money, while slipping in high level wordplay. “On POP,” one of my favorite cuts, Uzi raps: “Kill these n****s everyday like I’m Kenny / If you want money back Crawford like Cindy,” simultaneously shouting out boxer Terence Crawford and supermodel Cindy Crawford. It’s also on this track where Uzi sings “Balenci” no less than 15 times in a row at the top of his lungs.
The next track, “You Better Move,” is a banger that samples the popular ’90s Windows pinball computer game, Space Cadet. What’s impressive about these songs is the sequencing of the tracks. The songs fit perfectly together one after another when you listen all the way through. When Uzi gets abducted at the end of “POP,” cueing the start of “You Better Move,” you can feel the headspace Uzi was in and what he intended for the listener to experience.
The Renji persona comes to light starting on “I’m Sorry.” This is Uzi’s more soft, melodic side. He croons, “I’m sorry for everything I ever said / I’m sorry if you were misled.” Although it’s pure speculation who he is referring to, when Uzi raps “Everything bad, damn / That’s why you can’t fuck with fans, damn,” one can only assume he’s talking about former flame Brittany Byrd. Like usual, Uzi bears all his emotions, wearing his heart on his sleeve.
The sequence from tracks 7-13 is much less aggressive than the first stretch of the album. The Chief Keef-produced song, “Chrome Heart Tags,” immediately stands out. It’s the first official release between Keef and Uzi, but it’s more than just a one-off collaboration. They have teased songs together in the past, and although Chief Keef has been producing his own music for years, seeing his name as the lone producer on this song was exciting. The final Renji ballad is “Urgency,” which boasts the project’s lone feature, Syd, the talented creator of The Internet and original Odd Future member. This melodic pop-infused record about urgently hitting up your ex is the perfect send-off into the final sequence of the project.
It’s unclear exactly what the Lil Uzi Vert section of the album means, as there is not as definitive of commentary as Baby Pluto and Renji, but the songs are some of the most beautifully-crafted recordings Uzi has ever made. It was hard to decide, but the one-two punch of “Venetia” and “Secure The Bag” is my favorite sequence on the album. The stars seemed to align on “Venetia,” arguably the best song on the record, a cut that saw Uzi returning to his roots both thematically and musically. “Now why the fuck would I give up on my gang if my gang never gave up on me?/ I never ever tell on my n****s, I don’t care if they give me third degree.” The lingering message from that line pertains to the fact that Uzi had made it known over the last year how he wanted to get back to his 2015 days. It seems like he was extremely selective on who he chose to work with on this project which explains the chemistry.
“Secure The Bag” is another well-constructed song, with Uzi detailing life on the road and what it means to be part of the crew. It’s also where Uzi returns home from his alien abduction. The last 30 seconds feature him calling a friend, explaining what he just experienced and proclaiming, “I gotta drop this album,” alluding to the album being a memento of the experience itself.
The final trio of songs, “P2,” “Futsal Shuffle,” and “That Way” are hard for me to consider as part of the project. While they’re technically part of the album, “Futsal Shuffle” and “That Way” are both listed as bonus tracks, and “P2” is a sequel to Uzi’s hit “XO Tour Lif3.” While “XO Tour Lif3” is undoubtedly a masterpiece in itself, it’s hard to have the same enthusiasm for what is basically the same song on “P2.” It’s understandable why fans are raving about it; Uzi has different bars and producer TM88 added a different flare to the melody with the same drum pattern from the original. I don’t believe that these cuts are Uzi’s best work, but “Futsal Shuffle 2020” did serve the purpose of getting hype back in Uzi’s corner when he released it late last year and “That Way” is a fun play off of the Backstreet Boys classic hit. Still, it’s hard to imagine they were put on the album for any other reason than to inflate streaming numbers. Nonetheless, it doesn’t take away from the quality of Eternal Atake, which remains one of the best cover-to-cover listens in 2020 thus far.
Favorite tracks: Lo Mein, POP, Bigger Than Life, Venetia
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Eternal Atake (Deluxe) – LUV vs. The World 2
When Uzi announced a Deluxe version of Eternal Atake, 14 new songs was definitely not the expectation. This is wild for two reasons: one being the sentimental value of the original Lil Uzi Vert vs. The World mixtape getting a sequel and two, all of a sudden we have over 30 new Uzi songs, an unfathomable thing to imagine just a matter of weeks earlier.
Although, as a whole, LUV vs. The World 2 lacks the uniformity of Eternal Atake, the sentimental value and fun nature of the project are what drives it. The first three cuts – “Myron,” “Lotus” and “Bean (Kobe)” – along with “Moon Relate,” had already been cemented as grails because of the viral snippets Uzi had posted online at various points throughout the last three years. Even then, it was unclear whether we would ever hear mastered versions of these songs. Some fans were unhappy with this, believing that the 2016 mixtape deserved a separate release unrelated to Eternal Atake, as it does feel like this might be a collection of songs that Uzi himself liked and simply wanted to share with the world, which I have no complaints about. After all, isn’t that the Lil Uzi Vert that rose to prominence?
Contrary to Eternal Atake, this project has eight features. Uzi has always been known to work with multiple producers and the chemistry between him and Philly collective, Working on Dying, bled it’s way onto the deluxe with no surprise. He also tapped the shoulder of Pierre Bourne, who produced “Wassup,” “Bean (Kobe),” “Yessirskiii” and “Money Spread.” The project flows beautifully through the first ten songs, featuring unique beats, classic high-pitched Uzi vocals and memorable bars. “Bean” stands out immediately. Chief Keef sounds better and healthier than ever and the ode to Kobe Bryant along with Pierre Bourne production make this song a favorite. You’ll find yourself singing, “AP Mueller my Rollie,” along with Uzi before you know it.
A personal favorite is “Moon Relate”, which would have fit perfectly on the original album release. Uzi raps about becoming increasingly distanced from the world and reflects on relationship pain, singing “She think she in love but just want my dough / I’m numb from the pain, all these girls are psycho.” We can only speculate who he’s talking about, but his emotional raps about relationships are an essential part of the folklore of Lil Uzi Vert.
The project starts to lose it’s steam after track ten. It’s not to say these songs are bad, in fact, it’s fun to hear Uzi adopt a Chicago style cadence on “No Auto,” where him and Chi-town native Lil Durk trade bars. But in comparison to the front half of the project, I find myself often brushing over these songs. “Got The Guap,” “Celebration Station(on Eternal Atake),” “Trap This Way” and “Come This Way” sound like they were made in the same session while lacking the flare of some of the cuts on Eternal Atake. Maybe I’m just a spoiled fan now that I have 320 new Uzi songs. They can’t all be perfect, right?
At the end of the day, I think this release propels Uzi into the upper echelon of rap. He has some of the most dedicated cult-like fans and for good reason. The rollout and vision for the album were exactly what Uzi wanted, and while rappers are constantly releasing exhaustingly large albums that are nearly impossible to enjoy all the way through, Uzi somehow finds a way to get me to listen to 30 songs without skipping, maintaining a genuine excitement for each record. That can’t be said for most artists in general, let alone rappers. Hopefully it won’t be another three years before a new album surfaces, but these 30 songs will keep me busy for a while.