Lil Uzi Vert’s sophomore album “Eternal Atake” has finally arrived after three years of waiting, with only a few singles (and leaks) to hold fans over. But “Eternal Atake” is more than just an album from one of the most popular artists of the latter half of the 2010s — it’s an indicator of the state of rap music coming into this new decade.
After numerous beefs with his management and fellow artists under the same label, Don Cannon’s Generation Now, as well as a false retirement announcement, Lil Uzi Vert has delivered on none of his hype. I wish Don Cannon had delayed “Eternal Atake,” because perhaps there would have been more artistic merit if we gave Lil Uzi Vert another three years. Instead, we get verses like this:
“Balenci’, Balenci’, Balenci’, Balenci’, Balenci’
Balenci’, Balenci’, Balenci’, Balenci’, Balenci’
Balenci’, Balenci’, Balenci’, Balenci’, Balenci’”
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As catchy as “Eternal Atake” can be, it’s because of repetition instead of impressive wordplay. The reason I remember the chorus of “You Better Move” is because the phrase is repeated 31 times in a song that’s less than three and a half minutes long.
I understand the familiarity may be comfortable for some, and even what they’re seeking — for me, however, it sounds too much like songs Migos would have made in 2013. Trade in “Balenci’” for “Versace” and it’s nearly identical.
But really, nobody listens to Lil Uzi Vert for his lyrical prowess. They listen for the flows and the production, which are still an improvement over “Luv is Rage 2” on this album.
Though Lil Uzi Vert often fails to deliver on a noteworthy flow, there are a few strokes of brilliance.
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“Lo Mein” boasts some impressive vocal inflections and flow changes, but it’s nothing we haven’t heard from Lil Uzi Vert before. I wish there would have been more tracks like this, showing his true range.
Luckily, the production is impressive throughout, most notably on songs like “Chrome Heart Tags,” produced by Chief Keef, or “Venetia,” produced by Brandon Finessin and Outtatown. These beats lend an atmospheric tone to the album, giving the only credence to the concept of space Lil Uzi Vert seems to have been going for.
Let’s not even talk about the abysmal skits that just sound like Lil Uzi Vert being very confused while taking the ACT.
Instead, let’s discuss the elephant in the room. P2 is here, and that means Lil Uzi Vert and TM88 are trying to catch lightning in a bottle the second time. After the monumental success that was “XO Tour Llif3,” it only made sense to attempt a second chart-shattering hit. Except, instead of actually creating another song worth listening to, they interpolated the original beat and then had Lil Uzi Vert record a few different verses.
It feels like it could have been a remix on the deluxe version of “Luv is Rage 2,” but instead it takes up a precious spot on the tracklist of “Eternal Atake.” I would have been much happier seeing any of the singles leading up to “Eternal Atake” in its place, such as “That’s a Rack” or “Sanguine Paradise.”
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Altogether, “Eternal Atake” just serves to show how stale Lil Uzi Vert has become. He’s been a staple of trap for years now, and he’s arguably one of the most successful artists to come out of the so-called “Soundcloud era,” and he delivers on exactly what fans are familiar with. Unfortunately, I expected to see some growth.
In 2016, with mixtapes like “Lil Uzi Vert vs. The World” and “The Perfect LUV Tape,” it seemed like the 5’4” trap superstar could really push the rap genre in new directions. Finding himself among a group of genre pioneers with the likes of Trippie Redd, XXXTentacion and Lil Peep, it made sense they would bring the genre into a new space together.
Instead, as J. Cole said, “The real ones been dyin’, the fake ones is lit.”
It’s time for the old guard to move aside. Many of the giants of the late 2010s have since passed or become shadows of their former experimental selves, and Lil Uzi Vert falls into the latter category squarely. He hasn’t changed his sound in half a decade, and it shows.