Lil Uzi Vert has had himself quite the year. From appearing on XXL’s annual freshman list to dropping one of the hottest mixtapes of 2016, the just-turned 22-year-old rapper has earned his spot amongst hip hop’s newest stars. His rockstar image combined with his maniacally relentless yet catchy rapping style has garnered him tens of thousands of fans and a spot on everybody’s party playlist. Opting for a more melodic approach to the genre à la Young Thug, the Philly artist certainly has his detractors, mostly stemming from his lack of substance and those gosh darn ad-libs. Nevertheless, Uzi presses onward, delivering his second project of the year; a mixtape/EP titled The Perfect LUV Tape. Within the 10 tracks lies the rapper flexing his success, addressing his social media and trying to win his girlfriend back.
Perhaps Uzi’s greatest skill is his ability to flow easily over seemingly any beat thrown his way. Previous songs like “P’s & Q’s” and “Top” off past projects highlighted this skill, and Uzi continues it on Perfect LUV. On “Original Uzi (4 of Us),” he skates on the beat provided by frequent collaborator (and rising star in his own right) Maaly Raw. Just peep the hook, where Uzi effortlessly utilizes a stutter method that perfectly matches the beat. “N*gga I tucked, the burner/Don’t wanna f*ck, I swerve her/That be that bye, bye birdie.” The very next song has Uzi chanelling his inner Migos; on “Money Mitch” he raps in triple time, floating over a piano-laced beat courtesy of Zaytoven. Outro track “Seven Million” has Uzi and guest Future complementing each other perfectly; it’s really hard not to nod along with the two as they rap about everything from high clarity diamonds to luxury cars.
While Uzi may have turned in a great performance on the mic, it would be a shame not to include the amazing production on the project. While trap is slowly being overstaurated into certain irrelevancy by the same hi-hat/bass x snare formula, Perfect LUV adds various types of diverse effects to the sub genre that still features all the highs it has to offer but is different enough to have it stand out from it’s many, many competitors. Intro track “Do What I Want,” produced by Don Cannon and the aforementioned Maaly Raw, utilize a rising synth along with some echoey bells to get us in the mood before Uzi comes in. Dp Beats arranges an assortment of organs, bells and a slew of other effects to create one of the biggest heaters of the tape on “Alfa Romeo AW30 (I Can Drive).” “Ronda (Winners)” delves with dancehall, with CuBeatz and Metro Boomin bringing some island flavor while still retaining the trap feel of the project. Even with all these great arrangements, it would be all for naught if Uzi didn’t come correct on the mic.
If you didn’t like Lil Uzi, or the entirety of the so-called “new wave” of rap that he’s lumped into, The Perfect LUV Tape won’t change your mind. His overuse of ad-libs and repetitiveness can turn off some hip hop ‘old heads’, but it’s their loss. Uzi’s constant energy, charisma and mic presence is undeniable, and while this project may lack substance, it wasn’t meant to be anything more than a relentless blast of party-ready bangers, with the occasional insight into the pitfalls of being 22 and at the top. Old heads get used to Uzi, he’s gonna do what he wants.