Hip hop artist Lil Uzi Vert made waves earlier in 2017 with his triple-platinum single “XO Tour Llif3.” As with many artists’ debut albums following a hit single, Luv is Rage 2 strives to hit the same mark as its single with varying degrees of success.
The album opens with “Two,” a droning filler track, but then immediately drops its first banger, “444+222.” The high-energy beat and commanding chorus make it easy to dance to. Uzi transitions seamlessly between the tense chorus and the release of quirky, melodic verses accompanied by a light-hearted synth pattern. This one is made for the club.
“Sauce it up” aims to replicate the success of “XO Tour Llife3,” but falls shy of its target. “No Sleep Leak” comes a bit closer. Its catchy, melancholy chorus and slapping 808s make this track stand out, and put it in a parallel lane to “Tour Llife3.” The track brings out the best of Uzi’s sing-songy trap style, and its vocals capture Uzi’s desperation.
Another standout, “The Way Life Goes” brings out Uzi’s rockstar side. Melodic and driven by a rolling synth line, it strikes at the core of Uzi’s heartache and is a great benchmark of Uzi’s stylistic direction: A murky area between glam rock and southern trap.
“For Real” is experimental—which is commendable—but delves too far away from Uzi’s usual style. It sounds like Uzi took every unusable synth preset he could find and rapped over them.
“Feelings Mutual” is the best new track on the album. The swung synth and 808s are completely new to mainstream trap production; Thank you WondaGurl, of Brampton, Ontario. The bass hits just right, the chorus comes in strong, and Uzi puts actual work into the track’s angsty verses. This is peak Uzi.
“Neon Guts” is just as strong. The bassline combines SoundCloud rap’s characteristic distorted 808s with a funky riff. Pharrell’s voice melts into the instrumental, and Uzi’s singing manages to hold his own weight. Its one of the most unique and replayable songs on the album.
This is where the album fades for me. Uzi follows it up with “Early 20 Rager,” an experimental letdown, “UnFazed,” a waste of a Weeknd feature, “Pretty Mami,” which features a worthwhile chorus, but not much else, and “How to Talk,” which goes on for way too long.
Then, the listener reaches an oasis. You’re going to hear “X” slapping from car stereos. This track could have easily been a single. “Malfunction” and “Dark Queen” finish the album strongly. The latter, an anthem to Uzi’s mom, is one of the most lyrical and sincere tracks of the album, albeit a bit too drawn out.
And, finally, “XO Tour Llife3” caps the project. Compared to the rest of the album, this track feels the most organized. Uzi is a creative storm that needs to be balanced with a clear musical formula, and of all of the tracks on Luv is Rage 2, “XO Tour Llife3” does this the best.