Lil Uzi Vert broke headlines in early March with the drop of his ever-anticipated, second studio album, Eternal Atake. The project consists of 18 songs with no features, including a sample of the Backstreet Boys’ hit single in 1999, “I Want It That Way”, as well as an ode to Uzi’s biggest song to date, “XO Tour Life”, with a similar-sounding track labeled, “P2”. The album peaked at #1 on the Billboard 200 List, with 400 million streams in the first week, the fourth largest debut in streaming ever. All 18 of his songs on the album charted on the Billboard 200 List, with three songs in the top ten, making him just the fourth act in history to chart three songs at once within the top ten. Uzi also dropped an entirely separate project, as a deluxe version with 14 additional tracks. The project is called, “LUV vs. the World 2”, a sequel to the mixtape that drove his success early on. Overall, the commercial success of this release was indisputable.
But are these numbers driven by pure musical excellence in regards to Uzi, or rather a tremendously thorough job by his marketing and publicity teams? Maybe a bit of both. For the sake of time, as well as artistic integrity, I’ve chosen to focus my analysis on just the first project: Eternal Atake. After all, this is the official project. With superior engineering and even a mini-storyline that involves Uzi strangely being captured by what seem to be aliens of some sort, you can tell that Uzi put way more effort into EA. What he calls the “deluxe version” appears to be B-rolls and leftovers that he’s had in the stash for a while. Still fire though.
To begin with, Uzi starts the album off with “Baby Pluto”, a nod to his new alter ego that he has now fully immersed and embraced himself in. What this alter ego exactly entails, nobody really knows. Remember. Uzi likes being mysterious. The track is laced with a playful, bell-like melody, with a slower drum pattern to start, and Uzi with a chant-like flow. It then speeds into what Uzi fans are normally accustomed to; fast hi hats, a knocking bass, and a space melody. Uzi sounds extremely confident, almost cocky to an extent on this track. At one point, he hilariously injects that “I ain’t fuck a bitch so long I’d do it in a Honda Accord”, exhibiting his “I don’t care” mentality. This man will say anything on a beat. However, besides some catchy flows and his willingness to turn heads with that line, this track lacked any real emotion or grit that Uzi has proven to show before.
On the other hand, directly following “Baby Pluto” are two bombshells that definitely are full of energy: “Lo Mein” and “Silly Watch”. Both songs feature Uzi aggressively rapping, with his patented machine gun flow on grimy, hard-hitting instrumentals. A bit off brand for Uzi to just spit bars for nearly two entire songs, but he really displays his rapping abilities on these songs. The content matter remains fairly basic for Uzi (as most rappers), but his flows are goddamn addicting. In the hook of “Lo Mein”, Uzi goes back to his street roots, with a tough and infectious hook saying, “Chopstick came with a large lo mein, Extra clip in it, nigga, I ain’t got no aim”. In “Silly Watch”, Uzi is even more braggadocious, saying, “One eye open, Illuminati like Fetty Wap, Microwave help me dry out the Redi Rock // Throwin’ money, beat the pockets, got heavy knots, Gettin’ guala, they don’t know when the fetti stop”.
The next two songs in this project, “POP” and “You Better Move” are perhaps the least provoking tracks on this project, in terms of variety and substance. Both tracks feature deafeningly repetitive hooks, with the same one phrase essentially being repeated twelve times in each song. The beats on these two tracks were undoubtedly less engaging than the last two songs, which sounded so chaotic and up-tempo that you just had no choice but to bop your head to it. At one point in the track, “POP”, Uzi is just screaming, “Balenci” over and over again into the mic for what feels like an eternity. However, the action returns immediately after these two snoozers, with possibly my favorite track on the entire project, “Homecoming”.
The beat on this track is hard. That’s the only way you can possibly describe it. Bugz Ronin, the producer of the song, said when he was making the beat in front of Uzi, that he was on his phone the whole time, so he assumed that he didn’t like it. Little did he know, Uzi was in the middle of writing a hit.
The bassline of this song is insanely satisfying to hear over and over again, and Uzi’s rapping is tantalizing. Again, he utilizes his fast-paced, rapid-fire flows. He continually switches it up throughout the song, leaving an extremely varied pallet of sounds for the listener. My favorite part of the track is after the hook plays for a second time. After a few moments of silence, Uzi returns to the beat emphatically with his last verse. “Yeah, ever since Clifford, yeah, Uzi been the big dog, Drippin’ in this Ragu, you know I got the big sauce // Every outfit, yeah, I got to get the pic’ off, Said I know, I know you gon’ return to the big boss”. Yes, Uzi is no Shakespeare. The Clifford line didn’t really blow my head off either. But without a doubt, the way this man is able to flow on a beat is impressive.
In the following five songs, “I’m Sorry”, “Celebration Station”, “Bigger Than Life”, “Chrome Heart Tags” and “Bust Me”, Uzi returns to the melodic style of rap that got him famous in the first place. Unfortunately, it is with great regret that I must rate these tracks as, “mid”. It’s just some mid. I’m sorry. There just aren’t any classics out of this bunch. There just isn’t another “XO Tour Life”, “The Way Life Goes”, or a “Dark Queen” among these five tracks. No anthem that you can belch with all your heart. That’s what Uzi is so skilled at creating. And what his fans are looking for. Everything from the beats, to the flows, to the actual bars, felt half-hearted. There was a distinct lack of passion in these songs.
By track twelve, you have been led in all different paths by Uzi. From soft singing to violently energetic cuts, you have no clue at this point what else Uzi has in store. Track twelve, though, “Prices” returns to the theme of hard music. With a unique, fanfare melody that sounds like it could be played outside of an ancient temple in China, Uzi makes another attempt at creating a classic almost solely through his rapping. Although a bit repetitive and slow for me, the song definitely received a positive response from his fans.
To be totally honest, the next two tracks, “Venetia” and “Secure the Bag” are just flat-out skips to me. Not that they’re particularly bad, but they just seem like fairly half-hearted songs that Uzi clearly didn’t put as much effort into writing. Being his sophomore studio album, it is only fair that we expect some growth from Uzi and a refinement of his skills. The energy just isn’t there in these songs. In his defense, these tracks are playful and have their rightful place in some settings. Just not what I was looking for out of a new Uzi album.
Finally, at track sixteen, you will reach “P2”, literally the part-two version of Uzi’s hit, “XO Tour Llif3”, which has gone 7x platinum now. The song features the same producer, TM88, who famously said he did not receive any royalties or financial compensation for producing the hit song for Uzi years ago. Anyways, he’s back! And with a beautifully melodic and soothing beat, similar in pace and rhythm to the original song. Uzi even uses the same flows and similar wording for each bar, matching “XO Tour Llif3”.
The two bonus tracks, “Futsal Shuffle” and “That Way”, were previously released singles that made the album. Although these songs may have already grown annoying to some after being spun countless times on the radio, you can’t deny how the wave Uzi created with the “Futsal Shuffle” dance and music video. He broke the Internet. As he always does. And as for “That Way”, however you feel about the song (I think it’s pretty damn catchy, actually), it is indisputable that Uzi has broken boundaries for even daring to sample such an old and mainstream pop song.
So can Eternal Atake be considered a legitimate masterpiece? For how long fans have waited for this project, the expectations were undoubtedly high. EA definitely has its weaknesses and strengths. There are undeniable bangers. As well some some surefire snoozers. Ultimately, we will see what the critics have to say in the coming years and as this album gradually becomes etched into hip-hop history. Make no mistake. This album has already made history. With numbers. However, it remains to be seen what cultural impact this project will have and how the community will remember Lil Uzi Vert and this album years from now. Will he be solidified as an all-time great in the minds of listeners? Certainly, he has taken one step closer. One person who for sure could not care less about Lil Uzi Vert’s status in this regard, is Lil Uzi Vert. May he flex on us all for years to come.