Lil Uzi Vert

Pink Tape

by Colton Game

Since 2015, Lil Uzi Vert has become one of the most successful artists to come out of the golden age of SoundCloud. However, unlike most of the other artists from the now legendary 2016 XXL Cypher, I don’t believe Uzi has gone on to make a truly incredible album. I was really hoping that Pink Tape would be the album I’ve wanted from Uzi for a long time, and with the first few tracks, I thought that this was it.

Pink Tape, excluding the bonus tracks, is 23 songs, reaching over 75 minutes in runtime. One of the most common trappings for most mainstream artists nowadays is the lack of fat being trimmed from their tracklists, and this has been one of my main problems with Uzi’s output since the beginning. Eternal Atake, Uzi’s last full solo album, was already bloated with only about an hour of material, and Pink Tape makes the same mistake. However, this extra runtime has given them the space to be a little more experimental than most mainstream artists nowadays, to varying results.

“Flooded The Face” is a decent enough opener, and it reminds me a bit of Luv Is Rage 2. Not terrible, but not the most innovative thing they’ve released. However, “Suicide Doors” is where the album really starts for me. Sure, they’re clearly taking inspiration from Playboi Carti’s Whole Lotta Red, specifically his live shows, with the incorporation of heavy guitar riffs and strained vocals, but it’s done incredibly well here. Also, a common motif on this album starts on this track, with a strained “RAHHHH!!!” starting the track off.

The next few tracks, “Aye,” “Crush Em,” and “Amped” all follow the more intense sound that I thought this album would follow. They’re all pretty fun, and have enough variation to ensure they don’t overstay their welcome. Plus, Uzi’s vocalizations on “Amped” are incredibly odd, and I could easily see it turning off some listeners, but I love it. “x2” Is also a fun track, but this is where the album starts to fall a bit for me. Tonally, it doesn’t really fit the tracklist so far, as its synth lines are almost reminiscent to that of a Drain Gang song. Up to this point, I’d say the album is enjoyable, but I unfortunately start to see a lack of effort peeking through.

“Died and Came Back,” “Spin Again,” “That Fiya,” and “I Gotta” are all relatively forgettable, albeit listenable tracks that have completely abandoned the rock style that was present earlier. “Spin Again” is probably the closest in tone to earlier portions of the album, but it isn’t really long enough to make an impact. These tracks are also where I begin to notice Uzi not doing much different over the course of their songs, a problem I’ve had with many of their tracks in the past. Uzi isn’t known much for clever verses, and with the lack of interesting vocalizations or a catchy hook, these songs are nothing but okay tracks and repetitive beats. However, the next track, “Endless Fashion,” is definitely not forgettable, but not for good reason. I have no idea why Eiffel 65’s “Blue” is making a comeback, but I’m really not here for it. It’s a somewhat lazy sample, and Nicki’s feature verse is really not that great. I know many people have talked about it already, but saying “Made my ass great again, MAGA,” isn’t exactly great penmanship.

Both “Mama, I’m Sorry” and “All Alone” are both pretty uninteresting tracks that sound like Eternal Atake throwaways, but after this, I think the album has its best 3 track run. “Nakamura” has an INSANE sample that uses the WWE intro of the wrestler the track is named after, and it’s incredibly fun. This is the experimentation I wanted from Uzi all along. “Just Wanna Rock” became Uzi’s most recent mega-hit, and while it doesn’t fit the tone of the album well, it’s great to have Jersey club introduced a little more into the mainstream, and it’s a really fun track. “Fire Alarm” also has the incredible sample of “Stress” by Justice. This is easily the most successful use of Uzi’s experimentation on the whole album. The odd whistling that starts the track off, the pitch-shifting of their voice, and the anxiety-inducing sample make this a standout in Uzi’s whole discography.

Unfortunately, the album continues on with Uzi’s version of System of a Down’s incredible “Chop Suey,” aptly titled “CS.” When the track started, I was hoping it was just a sample, but it turned into an incredibly cheap instrumental copy of the song, with Uzi barely even present over half the track. They clearly don’t have the vocal capabilities of Serj Tankian (but let’s be honest, that’s a high bar to set), so Uzi chooses to opt out on some of the most taxing vocals of the song, leaving you with nothing but the knockoff karaoke version of the instrumental. When Uzi is present on the song, it’s awkward and stunted, and mixed in a really odd way, with far too much reverb. I seriously have no clue how this got past anyone and on to this album.

“Werewolf,” featuring Bring Me The Horizon is an interesting track to look at, because there’s plenty of parts that I love. The chorus is incredible, and the song, at its core, is essentially just a BMTH track. That’s fine and all, but Uzi is barely existent here. On my first listen, I genuinely didn’t even notice them. The one verse they have is mixed incredibly low, and has a filter that makes it sound almost like background distortion. It makes the portions of the song that don’t include Oliver Sykes’ voice sound awkward and empty.

“Pluto to Mars,” “Patience,” “Days Come and Go,” and “Rehab” all exceed four minutes in length, and none of them need to. They all drag on and barely change. “Rehab” is probably the best out of this group of tracks, as it includes some genuinely heartfelt lines about Uzi’s struggle with drugs, but still, it fails to be interesting enough to warrant it lasting more than 3 minutes.

The final track, “The End,” is another really interesting piece to look at, as it’s probably the most experimental track on the whole record, and features BABYMETAL. I’m glad this band is getting exposed a little more to western audiences, but this song has almost every problem I’ve stated on the album. Uzi is barely present and mixed insanely low, like on “Werewolf.” The track has the same verses from both Uzi and BABYMETAL copy and pasted throughout, and tonally, it’s somewhat of a mess. While I’m not a fan of the song, it kind of encapsulates the entire album. Experimental at times, but clearly overly ambitious and messy.

I commend Uzi for taking so many risks as such a mainstream artist, unlike those who have grown too comfortable with their position (like Drake or DJ Khaled), but I wish more of the experimentation had paid off. I’m hoping Uzi’s next album has far fewer tracks, and far more time put into it, because I know how great they can truly be.