Article by Ryan Lima
After keeping their fans waiting since 2020 for a new album, Lil Uzi Vert has finally returned to the scene with their highly anticipated Pink Tape. Officially released on June 30th, the record runs 26 tracks long, including features from notable artists such as Travis Scott, Nicki Minaj, and Don Toliver.
Lil Uzi Vert’s earlier projects, such as Luv is Rage 2 and Eternal Atake, all sounded fairly similar, maintaining a melodic flow over fairly ambient trap beats with minor variations here and there. This sound, which Uzi brought from Soundcloud to the mainstream, would be where many of their fans fell for them. But Pink Tape doesn’t feature much of these sounds, rather, it takes a unique and unfamiliar approach, which is to both the benefit and detriment of the record.
The first step outside of what we know as Uzi’s sound comes early on with track two, “Suicide Doors”, where they sample the guitar pattern used on their longtime friend and collaborator Playboi Carti’s, “Rockstar Made”. Uzi’s braggadocious and in-your-face energy blend well to make this rage-oriented track shine as a brilliant start to the album. Uzi does the same for “Amped”, a track where an electronic guitar, vibrant bass, and their flow create a head-banging experience for all listeners to enjoy. It’s a step outside of Uzi’s normal sound, but they maintain a healthy balance between the production and their vocals to keep themselves prominent on the tracks.
From tracks six through thirteen, they bring the rage to a halt as they settle back into their comfort zone of melodic rap, with bouncy tracks like “x2” and others that prioritize a spacey feel, like “Mama I’m Sorry”. This serves as the most boring part of the album, as we don’t see Uzi venture into anything abnormal to them, rather we get the consistent Soundcloud-era sound that popularized them. However, the standout track here is Endless Fashion, a hyper-melodic song featuring Nicki Minaj, where they mimic Eiffel 65’s flow for “I’m Blue,” in the chorus. It serves as one of the few songs on the record where Uzi’s voice elevates past the production and takes over the track, and Nicki does a great job to match that energy.
The latter portion of Pink Tape features Uzi at their highest level of creativity, starting off with Nakamura, where Uzi matches their vocal range to the tune of an addictive violin pattern, creating a levitating sound that stands out as arguably the best track on the album. Uzi later transitions to Fire Alarm, featuring elements of trap rage with its aggressive 808s, and hints of electronic music with the sampled synth in the backdrop. All of these production pieces give way for Uzi to introduce a lower-toned voice while maintaining their familiarized flow.
While Uzi utilizes their creativity to their advantage, there are some faults in its execution. The metal-focused tracks on this record don’t have the hint of Uzi that would make them complete, rather they let samples, covers, or production rise to the forefront. They cover “Chop Suey!” by System Of A Down on “CS”, but there isn’t much uniqueness Uzi brings to it. The same can be said in “Werewolf”, where their vocals are mostly mixed to sound filtered, almost like they’re rapping through a tube, which creates space for the feature, Bring Me The Horizon, to take center stage and resultantly, takes focus away from Uzi.
In “The End”, a heavy-metal & anime-inspired track featuring BabyMetal, Uzi, once again, doesn’t really hold much influence with very short verses and bridges. While there is optimism for Uzi’s success with blending metal into their music, they’re gonna have to first learn how to blend themselves into tracks like these to make themself stand out more instead of letting the production carry the weight.
As a whole, Pink Tape’s creativity surpasses anything that Uzi has ever released in their career. The inclusions of rage and metal are significantly different than the safe and consistent melodic flow that fans came to love them for. And while there is certainly a mix of successes and failures for Uzi in this venture, only time will tell whether they find a new home in any of these newly explored sounds.