“Playboi Carti is doing everything right”
By: Christopher Chance
There's many things on earth that are not certain. The weather, the election, the snkrs app, you get the point. Nothing in this life is promised, well except one thing. The world could be falling apart, the concept of reality as we know could be tearing, god could be splitting the galaxy in half, and this nigga carti would still put out a classic. He did it with Self Titled, then the next year with Die Lit, and while he has been gone for longer than expected, this nigga did not dissapoint. With his latest effort Whole Lotta Red, Playboi Carti shows us he does not have imposter syndrome, and is truly the rockstar he claims to be.
Playboi Carti has been since 2017 easily the most exciting new rap artist. Amongst his peers, he and his music have always stood head and shoulders above the rest, and it seems that he has understood and recognized what it truly means to be an artist. From early on with his first project, the concise and eclectic album was a great sign for more to come from Jordaaaaan. And now with Whole Lotta Red, he has shown yet again that artistically he is miles ahead of the competition.
If Location was Carti arriving to the rap game, and Long Time was him being happy to be here.... Rockstar Made is none of that. Rockstar Made is exactly what it sounds like. This intro is Carti’s first as a truly established artist almost half a decade into his career. He isn't happy to be here, he isn't in a humble place, he’s itching for a feeling that he has been chasing physically and sonically for years now. “Never too much” is chanted almost in a ritual esque manner throughout the track, serving as a pseudo hook, followed by him croning “ROCK STAR MAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAADE” explaining to his audience that this is who Carti is now. Essentially saying, if you want Die Lit and Self Titled, go listen to Die Lit and Self Titled. A fast paced, heart racing, soul shaking intro that perfectly establishes the sound and tone of this album.
The entire project feels like a Playboi Carti movie filmed by the Safdie Brothers, constantly at the edge of your seat, dreading the inevitable bad ending. And thats a big theme on this album, Carti while living the Rockstar lifestyle hes been building towards for the last decade, is clearly suffering from the side effects. Songs like Sky, iloveuihateu, Teen X, and F33l Lik3 Dyin dive deep into Carti’s struggle with addiction, and how its effcting his everyday life. And while this is negative on his health, I think he and I both know this is a necessary evil for the level of work he is trying to put out. Carti is truly sacrificing himself as a person for his art, going beyond music and becoming a human embodiment of the aesthetic he has crafted. And for this I commend him, for not only being the most exciting rap artist, but an equally gifted performance artist.
Stop Breathing is something we must get out the way before going any further. Holy Fuck. After the somewhat breather that go2damoon is (i am a kanye stan so i like the verse but i understand people gripes with it) we instantly get into easily one of, if not the most hard hitting Carti song I ever heard. Starting off with a hook that calls back to the OG Rockstar, Gucci Mane, Carti on this track is essentially playing the ultimate game of chicken with you. As soon as the beat drops on this song, its like being in a hellcat going 0-100 in 1 second. Though the song starts off that strong, it literally only gets crazier. “EVER SINCE MY BROTHER DIED x2 I BEEN THINKIN BOUT HOMICIIIIIIIIIIIIIDE” is the perfect example of Carti’s delivery on this project. While a line like that could go under the radar on any other artist’s album, Carti delivers the line in a way that it is literally embroidered into your brain. The pain, the hate, the anger, it's all felt in those 2 lines. The song then proceeds to unravel in the best way possible, with Carti actually losing his mind on the ad libs with a constant “WHAT” that if seen on paper could be thought to sound like how he’s always said it throughout his career. But like everything else on this album, it's completely different. I honestly bet this nigga smoked like 10 blunts and screamed that shit to get his voice sounding like that, its truly beautiful and made me realize that this album was much more than the next installment from Jordan Carter.
Followed by that we get two other high energy tracks, one being cutie pie baby pants energy (Beno!) and the other being an abrasive future mosh anthem (jumpoutthehouse) These tracks serve as a bridge between the beginning of the album and when it really starts to turn up. M3tamorphasis is a focal point on this project, serving as the antithesis of where Carti has gone stylistically. Like many other songs on this album, Carti isn't really rapping on here. I would say he’s manifesting, chanting certain lyrics that his loyal followers will repeat and spread. If anything this isn't even really an album, it's more of a spell book. My friend Donavon (amazing artist) had a conversation with me about this, and the concept of spell chanting as opposed to making music. Carti’s music is witchcraft, as soon as the beat starts and he starts screaming META MORE PHA SIS, I then immediately ordered two more pairs of rick pants. I want to get dressed every time I hear a Playboi Carti song, and that says something imo. Casting the perfect spell in this day in age is very hard, with attention spans being way shorter, if you don't have the attention of your consumer in the first few seconds, you’ve lost them. Yet with WLR, Carti’s skill is to keep your attention, for you never know what is going to next. His unpredictability mixed with the eclectic beat selection keeps you stuck to your seat, because this is a movie you WANT to finish.
While we can talk about every track on this project, there are a few tracks I want to focus on. Sky, Control, iloveuihateu, and both death tracks. Control is a song I see being compared to flatbed freestyle soon, not sonically but more in the sense that when Die Lit came out, u knew that Flatbed was the future of his sound. I can totally see Carti going full hyperpop singing and taking over that market. The thing I love so much about this song and the rest of this album is that compared to his discography, if Self Titled was 4 lines, and Die Lit was a square, then WLR is a Cube. Depth, substance, and flavor is what this project brings to the table, and on this song Carti is at his most vulnerable. I have never heard Carti actually show emotions outside of “Home (KOD)” and “Flex”, and even then it was never this vivid. Carti on this track is 100% sprung by a girl, to the point he is literally losing his train of thought while trying to explain that he cant change himself completely, but he would do things for her he has done for no one else. “Tell me what you want me to do, I can wear a business suit and speak propper, or i could put a hunnit niggas on and buy dem choppas!” this line right here summarizes the track perfectly. It serves as an audio version of the stress induced rant you are saying to your girl over the phone when she is finally tired of your shit and threatening to leave you. What a track.
Sky is in my opinion the overall best track on the tape, produced by Carti’s in house creative mastermind, Art Dealer. While carti has strayed away from Pierre heavy albums, Art Dealer stepped from the role as an art director, to being a flat out amazing producer. Only producing one song on Die Lit (Long Time) Art Dealer now has 7 tracks on WLR. Art Dealer currently gets Carti’s sound better than anyone else, creating beats that sound like they were crafted in the deep dark depths of an internet cafe on a stolen copy of FL 12. The simplicity of the tracks allow Carti to have room to operate on the track, filling in everything else Dealer left blank. Ok back to Sky, I almost got into Vamp Anthem but I caught myself! Sky is the audio experience of being a high paranoid nigga. This song starts off with Carti insisting that his boy roll him 10 blunts, in an effort to get so high he doesn't feel anything. The song is more flatbed freestyle than control is sonically, basically being a cry for help. “I could fall out the sky and I’d still feel nothing... I'm way too high” is basically an updated version of “2 MUH LEAN 2 MUH ICE 1 MO PINT 1 MO PINT” but in a much more accepting manner. He then goes on to describe a typical day for Mr Carter. Wake up, brush teeth, have an on site bitch role blunt, and now it's time to pour up some lean and get stuck. Carti then explains his distaste for Audio R8’s, and then goes on to talk about the focal point of the song, his bitch. So this girl wears stilettos while Carti prefers Ed Hardy, but dont get it twisted they are best friends, NOT a couple. She is a rockstar and a sex symbol, and the she makes what she does look simple. I find this hilarious because carti was really feeling this girl, then the next line pops up. “Tell me everybody that you screwed, tell me everybody you took to this room. I GOTTA KNOW WHO U FUCKED IN THIS ROOM” I feel like I may be looking into deep with this but it really feels like Carti was having a great day, got too high, and then became extremely paranoid and insecure about his girls past lovers, something we all do. But I just find it to be hilarious that he perfectly described this feeling through this zany ass song.
This album's closing half is on End of Evangelion levels of greatness, easily solidifying this as the best album of the year, and quite possibly in a long time from a rap artist. iloveuihateu is another beautiful cry for help where carti describes a druggy love affair. He contemplates dying his hair red to literally look like a pint of hi tec, the highest level of on brand living you can do at this point. The beat by Pierre Bourne literally sounds like something out of Bad, and this is where I will end this review on.
Playboi Carti has reminded me of a special someone for a long time, his and his name is Michael Fucking Jackson. Dude hear me out, Self titled? Off the Wall. Magnolia? Rock With You. Die Lit? Thriller. Flatbed Freestyle? Thriller. WHOLE LOTTA RED? BAD. Stop Breathing? BAD. I know this sounds far fetched, but even not looking at it oh so literally it makes sense. I look at it more from where there sound progressed to on each album. Magnolia was a Rock With You, it hit everyone and was a universally praised track that made you feel amazing every time u heard it. A pleasant surprise from a promising artist. Oh yea Pierre is Quincy? Nvm lemme stay on topic before I lose you. Die Lit was in the same vein as Thriller in terms of the distinct sound change, and each respective artist recognizing their influence and importance in their genres. Yes I know I am comparing Carti to Michael but rock with me. Then we have WLR and Bad. Bad came out 5 years after Thriller, which looking back at it is actually fucking insane to wait that long for a major artist to drop an album. But Michael had a lot going on during that time, the nigga came back white and super badass. CARTI CAME BACK RED AND SUPER BADASS. THE COVERS LITERALLY HAVE THE SAME COLORS AND I KNOW ITS INSPIRED BY SLASH BUT HOLY FUCK DUDE. This leads us to Die4Guy. This song is literally Michael Jackson living vicariously through a Drug addict rockstar. “JORDAN CATTAAAAAHAHHHHHH” sounds straight out of MJ’s mouth, I mean imagine him singing that. It makes perfect sense. Ok thats enough of that here's the end of the Review.
I have never written a real review about an album before. The last time a work of art effected me like this, I didnt have the vocaburalry nor knew what the fuck that shit made me feel (MBDTF). Ever since December 25th I have been an addict like Carti. I cannot go a day without listening to this project top to bottom. You have perfect pop esque songs ready for radio consumption like Slayer and Beno! Thought provoking tracks like I feel like dying and Metamorphasis, and literal audio Sex Appeal with Sky and iloveuihateyou. This is a full package, and something I will be cherishing for the rest of my life. I deleted my entire mixtape after hearing this project, and your favorite rapper probably did too. With this album, Carti showed us what it feels like to be addicted to RED. While he pours another line of tech, I’m running this project back once again. Infectious is an understatement, but 10/10 is just right.