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Two weeks ago, after more stop-and-go moments than rush hour traffic, Lil Uzi Vert released his long awaited Eternal Atake album. Soon after, he announced a deluxe edition of the project. A “deluxe” addendum to an album typically adds several extra tracks to the end of a tracklist. But in true Uzi fashion, he decided to shirk the norm and make the deluxe edition of Eternal Atake an entirely new album entitled LUV Vs. The World 2, the sequel to the 2016 star-making mixtape.
His diehard fans — who ran up the numbers to give Eternal Atake the biggest streaming week since 2018 — are still processing one album but already got another 14 tracks for their pleasure. It may not have been the wisest commercial decision, but Uzi doesn’t care about anything resembling convention, which makes him one of the most fascinating people in music, let alone hip-hop.
One of the major takeaways from Eternal Atake is its lack of features. Besides Syd of The Internet on “Urgency,” Uzi J. Coled it on the long-awaited album. Uzi proved himself fully capable of holding down an album on his own, but some fans were wondering where frequent collaborators like Young Thug were. LUV Vs. The World 2 gives us two Thugger appearances — as well as appearances by Future, Chief Keef, 21 Savage, Lil Durk, Gunna, Young Nudy, and Nav.
The average artist might hang on to such a weighty guestlist like a crutch, veering from lane to lane and becoming a costar on their own work. But Uzi asserts his artistry to ensure that every LUV Vs. feature enters his world and conforms to all its melodic, quirky machinations.
Take “Yessirskiii” with 21 Savage, for instance. 21’s drawl melodically wafts through the beginning of the Pi’erre Bourne-produced track, eschewing much of his usual intimidation for hilarious (and timely) quotables like, “Y’all n****s can’t join my live / I ain’t givin’ no high fives” and “I don’t go to church, I curse” over buoyant synths. Uzi provides a jolt of aggression after the methodical opener and causes 21 to jump into his own double-time bag on the second verse. Even though 21 technically has more verses on the track, Uzi shifts the track’s energy, and more importantly, the lyrical tone and debaucherous lyrics fit the overall vibe of the syrupy, ever-quaking soundscape.
Uzi spent most of Eternal Atake thumbing his nose at critics who relegate him to “mumble rap” with deceptively insightful lyricism and technical prowess that can get lost in his melodies and infectious exhortations. He continues on that spree with “Myron,” the intro track for LUV Vs. The World 2 that he let his fans name. He rips through Supah Mario’s whimsical composition with unforgettable — if rude — lines like “your girl’s a five, but your mom is a dime piece,” exemplifying the boastful-yet-witty persona that one can’t help but chuckle at.
It can be hard to accept threatening gun bars from an artist who seems like a genuinely jovial kid on social media, but he uses that element of surprise to his advantage with peculiar threats like “I’ll knock a n**** down like I’m the same size as Dave East,” on “No Auto” with Lil Durk or “I remember livin’ right next to my enemy / Now I got too much money, I could blow up your whole vicinity,” on “Wassup,” where he carries out a three-to-four syllable end rhyme through most of his verse, also noting, “No, statistically, I can’t win every time / But you know the score prolly like ten to three.”
He has a pretty strong “win percentage” on LUV Vs., holding his own with each feature, rattling off assonant, melodic verses and hooks that sound like extended verses. Uzi and Young Nudy impress on “Money Spread,” which sounds like a Donkey Kong theme that never knew it would be imbued with lines like Nudy’s “I got your bitch over here promotin’ my nuts.” Uzi and Nav take turns floating all over “Leaders,” a NAV, Cash (XO), Pro Logic, and Money Musik co-produced meditation where both artists make their sing-songy flows seem too easy over the siren-like synths. This track is why everyone and their mother attempts the sing-songy flow, but few will pull it off as well as Nav and Uzi.
Uzi also collaborates with admitted inspiration Chief Keef on “Bean,” which Keef also produced. Keef contributes a surprisingly lucid verse that steadily picks up steam line-by-line. The moment is one of the album’s highlights. But the most impressive collaboration on the project may be “Strawberry Peels” with Young Thug and Gunna. The album’s sixth track breaks up the lush synth compositions with a high-pitched wail and a jolting 808 that serves as the grounding for the three men to catch lightning in a bottle over the urgent Wheezy beat. At just 1:55, it’s the album’s most tantalizing moment.
But LUV Vs. The World 2 pleases throughout. Uzi sticks to his winning formula and meshes earworm melodies with a precocious wit and all the technical intricacies that Philly MCs are famous for, making him one of the most exciting artists in hip-hop. The genre-bending sound he explores is a scene — that more than others — is ripe for bulk production. With Eternal Atake, Uzi gave his fans what they wanted. On LUV Vs. The World 2, he offers up 14 more tracks they didn’t know they needed.
LUV vs. The World 2 is out now via Atlantic. Get it here.
Lil Uzi Vert is a Warner Music artist. Uproxx is an independent subsidiary of Warner Music Group.