Lil Uzi Vert's "Luv is Rage 2" is One Long Flex

Lil Uzi Vert's "Luv is Rage 2" is One Long Flex

The self-proclaimed rockstar explores shameless materialism, hurt feelings, and stealing your girl on his freshman LP.

The self-proclaimed rockstar explores shameless materialism, hurt feelings, and stealing your girl on his freshman LP.

Text: Justin Ragolia

"Two," the first song on Lil Uzi Vert's much anticipated Luv is Rage 2 opens with a short, foggy buildup that leads to a heavy bass drop and upbeat accordion rhythm, over which Uzi raps, revealing the theme for the entire project, "I ain't gonna lie / I got money and the power." In a way, "Two" serves as an overture for the album, introducing us to the sentiment he'll be expressing on nearly every track: with the release of his freshman LP, he's officially become the hyper-rich rockstar he's been channeling since Money Longer. 

On this album, Uzi wants us to know about all of the things he owns. He's clearly spent some time shopping lately: the artist mentions many a designer label on practically every track. Some of the far-fetched fashion callouts include Raf Simons x Adidas, Thom Browne, Rick Owens, Saint Laurent, the recently announced Off-White x Nike collab, and much, much more. But it doesn't necessarily seem like he's after a trailblazing fashion killer status a la A$AP Rocky, as his propensity to brag on just about everything: luxury cars, the women attracted to him because of his fame and money, and how much he makes a show, reveals to us. A couple of these are particularly cringe-worthy, including an awful mispronunciation of "Comme des Garçons" and a misguided flex about how all of his diamonds are African (which is definitely not something to brag about) on "Sauce it Up."

We've got to admit to chanting along to lyrics about cars, girls, and clothes from his past projects, but now that he's released a much more official LP, a change of pace would've definitely been welcome, as his take on having money feels familiar at best and entirely unoriginal at worst.

That's not to say that the project's completely lacking in substance, though. A few of the songs on the project show some serious promise: despite the heavy-handed flexing on "For Real" and "Neon Guts" the cheekiness of the lyrics combined with some seriously creative, minimalistic production allow Uzi's innovative cadence to give us the same quick jolts of unquestioning ecstasy we received from XO TOUR LIF3, Do What I Want, and Erase Your Social. The few times the stars align on Luv is Rage 2, everything just works. This is especially true on "Neon Guts," where laid-back chimes and Pharrell's floating lead-ins provide Uzi the set-up he needs to let his best lyricism swagger over the beat, even if it is just another song about chains.

Luv is Rage 2 does become vulnerable at points, though, and the insights found on the tracks that don't hide behind diamonds and ass make the project way more interesting, thematically. Uzi samples and sings Oh Wonder's "Landslide" on "The Way Life Goes," offering a hopeful take on recovering from a past relationship and touching on Uzi's rocky relationship with his ex, Brittany Bird, who he's channeled for inspiration before. More interestingly, though, on this track Uzi raps, "I guess that goes to show you money don't attract a thing" hinting that he just may be aware that money doesn't necessarily mean happiness. Similarly, he raps about numbness, pain, and drug addiction on "Feelings Mutual," which seems honest and reflective for most of the playthrough, though he does end the track with the sentiment, "I'm doing fine now/No I do not need nobody now." It's unclear whether that repeated line from the outro is a self-aware lamentation of the way Uzi's let fame and money distract him from heartbreak, or just another flat flex.

That's not to say that every flex is flat, though. Uzi's brag lines flow much more organically when hidden in his trademark saucy, inventive wordplay, or stacked up high unapologetically, like, "Vivienne West but my friend looking polo/My Gosha from Dover, I drive in the Rover" on "For Real."

The LP does return to sentimentality in a much more sincere way on "Black Queen," a slower track dedicated to Uzi's mother and produced by Rex Kudo and Maaly Raw. While it's not exactly a tear-jerker, it's honest and appreciative, providing much-needed contrast from the bold headiness of the rest of the LP: "When I was small momma made me tall/Even though I'm daddy pup she still gon' wipe my paws / Don't care about this money, don't care about them cars (she drivin')/Lose my momma that's a problem you can't solve..."

While the album's certainly a worthwile entry into the artist's musical canon as he continues to improve as a writer and collaborate with more experimental producers, it's a shame that some unimaginative themes detract from our ability to take the LP seriously on its own. Much of its lyrics do rely on price tags and waistlines, yes, but at times Luv is Rage 2 offers something entirely new. At its best, it's thoughtful, clever, and self-aware, but at its worst, it begs the question as to whether Lil Uzi is in it for the music in itself, or merely for more of the rockstar lifestyle he so adores.

Luv is Rage 2 is out now. Stream the record below.

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