Immediately before the release of his debut studio album, Luv Is Rage 2, Lil Uzi Vert sat down with Zane Lowe on Beats 1 Radio to reflect on making money, crushing on Marilyn Manson and the messy, beautiful journey of how an average kid from Philadelphia became one of the world’s newest rap stars.
My appreciation for Lil Uzi Vert has also been a journey. When I first listened to the song “WDYW,” a single released in 2015 by Carnage featuring A$AP Ferg, Rich the Kid and Lil Uzi Vert, I respected Uzi’s quick delivery and various tones, but to me, his sound was incredibly mediocre. It wasn’t until he gained momentum with the release of “Money Longer” and “Baby Are You Home” from his 2016 mixtape Lil Uzi Vert vs. the World that I finally woke up and realized that this scrawny boy from the Quaker State would go on to solidify his presence in the Atlanta hip-hop scene and influence the rest of the nation within months. His melodies were simple. His beats were hypnotic. His lyrics felt genuine, free from misogynistic or homophobic punchlines and unlike the many exaggerations in storytelling within the gimmicky rap world.
My newfound adoration for Uzi increased tenfold this past April during his performance at the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival, where his charming and exhilarating stage presence inspired thousands of sweaty youth to fervently recite every word to every song. I was in awe of the remarkable effect Lil Uzi Vert had on young people. The TM88-produced track and undoubtedly Uzi’s most popular song,“XO TOUR LIife3,” has evolved into somewhat of a “depression anthem” for our generation. Written about his ex-girlfriend Brittany Byrd, Lil Uzi Vert perfectly captures what it feels like to be hurt, alone and disappointed with personal flaws. It would be inaccurate to say that the song is about depression or suicide — it seems as though some fans have analyzed the lyrics in search for more depth or a darker meaning. I interpret the lyrics to be about close relationships, escapism and the changes that naturally occur as you leave adolescence and enter adulthood in your early 20s. Uzi, only 23 years old himself, has stated that the lyrics “Push me to the edge / All my friends are dead” refer to feeling lost amid fame and fortune.
In his interview with Lowe, Uzi confirmed that Luv is Rage 2 is indeed a breakup album. With 16 total tracks and cover art designed by Virgil Abloh, Luv is Rage 2 is about loneliness and frustration, but more importantly, how it is still possible to be happy under any circumstances. Ultimately, breakups suck, but wallowing in them sucks even more. Both the instrumentals and the vocals on this album are effortless, much like the way Uzi carries himself. The tracks “For Real,” “X” and “Dark Queen” provide fans with Uzi’s signature fast-paced delivery and harmonic melodies. Uzi keeps the lyrics simple, and speaks frankly on life, love and substance abuse. Admittedly, Lil Uzi Vert’s music is not for everyone, but his persona is. His frankness and simplistic outlook on life are inspirational, encouraging everyone to embrace their emotions wholeheartedly. Lil Uzi Vert inspires listeners to do what makes them happy, because ultimately, we are all on this journey by ourselves.
Natasha Doshi is a senior majoring in health and humanities. She is also the hip-hop director of KXSC Radio. The rotating guest column, “KXSC Radio,” runs Thursdays.