Playboi Carti – Whole Lotta Red, Album Review

whole lotta red

Live by the sauce. Die by the sauce. Following mixed first-listen reviews from fans, Atlanta punk rapper Playboi Carti drops the album for which many have been waiting. The song “Whole Lotta Red” caught my attention last year. It became the primary song I went to YouTube for to get a fix. Although it was a leak, I found an electric vibe emitting from it. It’s so wavy. And entirely intoxicating in my view. So, naturally, its exclusion from this extensive tracklist disappointed me. Not enough to keep me from putting this record on repeat about a dozen times, however. Its unapologetic ingenuity sets Whole Lotta Red apart. Despite a major lack of lyrical substance, Carti powers through to carve his own path to greatness. While his contemporaries play catch-up, Playboi trusts his intuition and finds soundscapes that fit his style to perfection, albeit a redundant one.

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Playboi Carti | Steven Ferdman, Getty Images

Though his bars resort to elementary spelling bees, drug abuse, and mind-numbing refrains, Carti continues to define the mumble rap scene. During my first play-through, I noticed why fans bashed it. This is Playboi’s Yeezus. You won’t get what you want here. What you will get is a collage of pill-induced daydreams and gang-influenced nightmares. This album is an experience in an era when dudes can’t even spell experience, let alone have enough of it to know how to release an album properly. It will take a handful of listens to grasp the fact that Whole Lotta Red is Playboi Carti’s performance album. Once concerts re-open, watch out. He has proven yet again he’s willing to experiment with his sound and voice for the betterment of his art. With the help of Pi’erre Bourne, Art Dealer, Maaly Raw, Wheezy, F1lthy and more, Carti’s palette shines vibrant but also murky.

Diseno y Construccion Unveil the Artfully Serene “Canela House”

This captures the pendulum of mood swings on this record. The first half of Whole Lotta Red differs greatly from its second. He begins hyper aggressive, mellows out, relapses, and exits a more somber, focused man. The opening run of tracks vibrate a harsh minimalism that arguably leaves too much to the imagination. “Beno!” takes the cake for this album’s most agreeable song, which presents the second elephant in the room. He follows it up with “M3tamorphosis,” featuring Kid Cudi. The track sequencing here is all out of whack. Additionally, of course, there are way too many songs. 24 tracks and 63 minutes of runtime force listeners to sift through a bunch of songs that overlap one another both stylistically and lyrically. And to make matters worse, Kid Cudi offers a super-duper dad verse that stifles the track’s booming momentum. No Playboi Carti song should ever be five minutes long.

Audemars Piguet Introduces Self-Winding Royal Oak Flying Tourbillon

Yet here we are, ladies and gents. Don’t get me wrong, though, Cudi’s hum embellishments are to die for, and are a must-listen. Nevertheless, his extended verse takes away from the sharp, transcendent performance Carti displays. “M3tamorphosis” was Whole Lotta Red‘s centerpiece but Carti’s lack of creative vision kept this song, as well as this entire album, from reaching its true potential. As listeners we must refrain from calling an album containing five or six songs we enjoy a fire record. Especially when that’s merely a third of the offering. Conversely, this album is nowhere near the trash category for me either. There’s an incredibly unique album inside this release. Though combining a fuck-the-world attitude with immense attention seldom equates to artistic feats in today’s music industry. Travis Scott’s Rodeo remains the gold standard for contemporary trap music.

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‘King Vamp’ | Timothy Norris / WireImage / Getty Images

Travis gave it his best shot. And people just did not care. That is why we receive bloated, unfocused records like this one. As much as Whole Lotta Red accomplishes, it counteracts that good by shoving repetitive themes, refrains, and instrumental archetypes down our throats to get to number-one. It succeeded in that sense, so we should expect more of the same from Carti. Cutting this tracklist down to 11-14 songs boosts the overall impact of Carti’s infectious style and cadence. No amount of hype saves this record from itself. Here Playboi burns the candle at both ends, finishing with “You’re welcome.” While I do appreciate his sonic curiosity and unwavering confidence, his stubbornness irks me from a creative standpoint. Establish a theme. Find the sounds. Fine-tune the vision. It ain’t rocket science. All anyone has to do is care more about the art than themselves. A tall order indeed.

 

Album Review: Playboi Carti - Whole Lotta Red
Production
8
Songwriting
5.2
Vocal Performance
6.5
+
Vocal Variety
Cohesive Vibe
Sonic Experimentation
-
Underwhelming Guest Performances
Redundant Lyrical Content
Bloated Tracklist
6.6
POSITIVE
whole lotta red
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