S/T by Playboi Carti

playboi carti

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Genre: Trap Rap

Favorite Tracks: “Wokeuplikethis* (featuring Lil Uzi Vert,)” “Let It Go,” “No. 9”

Humility is an undisputably admirable characteristic, but a little extravagance is needed from time to time as well. For Playboi Carti, the Atlanta rapper currently residing in Los Angeles, unabashed affluence is a claim to fame. Breaking into the hip hop scene in 2015 with the Soundcloud smash hit “Broke Boi,” Playboi Carti quickly gained a following excited by his closet full of coveted streetwear, close friendship with controversial Twitter model Ian Connor, and his druggy Atlanta drawl. As his music and persona caught on, Carti seemed to be poised to be SoundCloud rap’s most tasteful guilty pleasure. Fans eagerly awaited a mixtape, with Carti’s creative directors and associates frequently tweeting that he would drop a substantial project soon.

Finally, almost two years after Carti’s relevance, the tape is here. Unfortunately, it’s awful.

Mystique and teasing is one of the most powerful tools in an artist’s arsenal, as evidenced by Frank Ocean’s long awaited masterpiece BLONDE. With numerous fakeouts, however, there comes an assumption that the artist is working hard on their craft in order to have a release that is truly perfect in their eyes. Having assumed that Carti has finally released his magnum opus, I was very disappointed when PLAYBOI CARTI sounded like it was recorded by a 12-year-old with a GarageBand microphone.

 

PLAYBOI CARTI’s worst element is the vocal performance. At his best on his singles and features, Carti sounds like a lord lazily overlooking his empire. His lyrics were cocky but not absurd, delivered in a Southern drawl that was agreeably reminiscent of a prepubescent Future.

On PLAYBOI CARTI, Carti’s performance is poorly developed in every sense of the word. Lyrics, where they are even intelligible, sound like an inauthentic ode to power delivered in a yelp that sounds like someone mocking a 1980s hardcore singer. The lyrics are at their worst on the album’s opener “Location,” in which I could make out almost no coherent words.

Carti’s 15 track album also only has three guest appearances, all of whom are as lackluster as Carti’s.

 

On the track “New Choppa,” A$AP Rocky’s guest verse constitutes his worst performance ever. Listening to Rocky boast his street cred is a guilty pleasure that millions of fans share, but his guest feature on PLAYBOI CARTI is so half-baked that it made me question my A$AP fanhood altogether. The album’s only other notable guest is fellow SoundCloud star Lil Uzi Vert, who provides an equally humdrum yet refreshingly melodic performance on not one but two consecutive tracks, “Lookin” and the oddly punctuated “Wokeuplikethis*.” Even though Uzi’s features provide the album’s best moments, they still fall severely flat.

Arguably the strongest element of modern hip hop is its innovative production. Sadly, the production on PLAYBOI CARTI is not innovative, instead being actively terrible. The beats sound like homebrewed beats cranked to 11, with oversimplified synth tones occasionally scattered on top.

 

The horrendous coupling of the fledgling production with Carti’s yelping vocals is at its most prominent on the album’s second track “Magnolia,” which sounds sort of like My Bloody Valentine playing a prank and dropping an intentionally funny hip hop parody. The track’s lyrics are blatantly misogynistic, with enough slut shaming to make Elizabth Stanton roll over in her grave.

A few years ago, Odd Future put out a hilarious sketch called I Just Bought a Bugatti (I’m Happy) on their Adult Swim show Loiter Squad. PLAYBOI CARTI is in essence this sketch devoid of humor. Hip hop at its best justifies its controversy with intent. On his long awaited full length debut, Carti proves that he has no greater goal as an artist besides fame. PLAYBOI CARTI is a soulless and actively unlistenable debut which confirms Playboi Carti’s status as a SoundCloud one hit wonder.

Verdict: Do Not Recommend

Ted Davis

Ted Davis is a culture writer and musician. He works in Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Washington DC.

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