Lil Uzi Vert hasn’t lost any skill or ability, but they are in desperate need of a filter. Pink Tape uses Uzi’s rock influences more than any project before, and frequently to very interesting results, but there desperately needs to be some type of quality control to cut into the… 26-tracks on the album.

Release date: June 30, 2023 | Generation Now/Atlantic Records | Website | Instagram | Spotify

Unlike some of their contemporaries that have run out of ways to make new versions of the same track, Lil Uzi Vert seems to have too many ideas. Uzi’s smash hit mixtape LUV Is Rage released almost ten years ago (we are all old) and many other rappers from their era have already long faded away, but Uzi’s genre-bending style has stayed fresh. Pink Tape is the Philly rapper’s third album since 2017 and it’s an extremely interesting, albeit very scatterbrained look into its creator’s music taste and how they channel it.

Let’s get my biggest complaint out of the way – this thing is nearly 30 fucking tracks. No album needs to be almost 30 tracks. It’s unnecessary. About seven or eight of the songs on Pink Tape are pretty much filler (why the fuck you’d want filler to get the album to 26 tracks is beyond me) that could have been on any Uzi project after The Perfect LUV Tape. This is the last time I will bring these tracks up because I cannot remember most of them.

Uzi has always been comfortable incorporating their emo/pop punk influences. Starting their career at the same time as other artists like Lil Peep, XXXTentacion, and many more, Uzi has long been leading the emo-rap subgenre and the work that Eternal Atake began in working in some new influences is continued on Pink Tape, but the end results are a bit rough around the edges.

“Werewolf” is a really good Bring Me The Horizon song, but it’s more Uzi taking a breather while the band takes over for a few minutes than a true collaboration. Uzi has a small feature on a track with the band that came out in June, and their presence is more noticeable on the feature than on Pink Tape. This happens again on “The End” but nowhere near as stark. There’s just something about Uzi yelling adlibs in the background of a BABYMETAL song that just feels right to me and they’re on the track more than enough to keep the song feeling like an Uzi track, so the song ends up being very enjoyable.

‘Your bad, bad bones in my blood bath
Your bones will rot (yeah, yeah, yeah)
I’m lost and I’ll never get back
So borderline you’ll be a lonely wolf
You don’t help me anywhere else (whoa)
Your world will soon go down but underground
And this darkness has become a haven
I’m going deeper underground, can’t face it’

There’s a cover of System of a Down‘s “Chop Suey!” on here. Now, listen. It’s not good, I know this, but Pink Tape is almost 30 songs long, and the track is so deep into the muck that you start looking for anything that breaks up the monotony and it certainly does that. “Nakamura” samples one of Uzi’s favorite WWE wrestler’s theme songs and the track is one of the best instances of Uzi dabbling in more of a rock sound. There’s potential here, but the bulk in attempts aren’t going to get it done.

As you might expect, there are some real lowlights. “Mama, I’m Sorry” is a mess. The bridge is just Uzi doing “I Hate Being Sober”, the song interpolates Gotye’s “Somebody That I Used To Know”, the early parts of the song sound a lot like Kid Cudi, there’s just too much going on, and for no reward. God, “Endless Fashion” is bad. Nicki Minaj deadass says ‘I got a Republican doctor, made my ass great again MAGA’. Twice. Minaj then attempted to one-up that line throughout the rest of the song and Uzi did not exactly get the song back on track. The instrumental samples “I’m Blue” by Eiffel 65.

Many more of the tracks are closer to the sound pioneered by Uzi and Playboi Carti, or the hybrid pop-rap style common in some of Uzi’s work. “Suicide Doors” is one of the best rage tracks on Pink Tape, but more importantly the song trashes Charleston White, and has some Arca production on it so there was no way this song could have missed. Another rage banger with production from Ken Carson and Clif Shayne, two members of Carti’s Opium label, “x2” shows why Uzi is so good at the style as they bring so much life to the hook and to their vocal performances.

Uzi’s ability to pull off poppier moments is still here despite the project’s rock leaning. “Pluto to Mars” is fantastic, the sing-songy vocals are excellent, the production is smooth, and the lyrics are simple but addictive – Uzi’s perfect recipe. The recipe is nailed again on “All Alone”, just everything you’d want from an Uzi track. “Fire Alarm” is a track that certainly won’t be for everyone, but is, in my opinion, far and away the best on Pink Tape. Produced by and featuring Snow Strippers, “Fire Alarm” is an electronic club banger that fusion danced with Uzi’s rage, and this pulsing, bassy gem is the result with some of the coolest vocals on the project.

Lyrically, “Rehab” is one of the most interesting and vulnerable songs Uzi has ever written. Detailing their experience while in rehab, the song is extremely open about the lows and some of the people that helped them during their time in rehab. Uzi might not be the best lyricist that’s ever lived, but “Rehab” has a ton of heart, and for those that have followed their career over the years, it’s fantastic to hear such a vulnerable song.

‘Rehab centers don’t even got no crowds (Yeah)
You said, “You’ll be okay, have patience” (Yeah, have patience)
Lots of Seroquel and gabapentin (Gabapentin)
For like two weeks straight, yeah, I was shakin’ (I was shakin’)
I would tell you about who I’m datin’ (Who I’m datin’)
No more fast hoes and crustaceans (Damn)
No more lobsters tails and fast relations (Woah)
Followed your own rules, fuck the basics (Yeah)
When night-time would come, couldn’t wait until the day shift’

Like on Eternal Atake and its (lowkey better) paired album LUV vs. the World 2, Uzi chose quantity over quality for Pink Tape. There are enough quality tracks here to make up a 12-track-ish album; granted Uzi puts in a bit more work making some of the average tracks stand out more, and the rock ideas do have the potential to become much better. At this point, I’d prefer Uzi make a full album of something like “Werewolf” than “I Just Wanna Rock”. They’ve already shown much more competency than other rappers that have dabbled in rock (*cough cough* Cudi) and might actually be able to pull it off. One way or another, though, it’s obvious that the balancing act of straddling the intersections of rap, metal, pop, emo, and more all at once is getting to be a bit too much for Uzi to manage.

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