Lil Uzi Vert was ready for an Andrew Luck career.
That is, a career that brimmed with unlimited potential and exhilarating highs (and a few questionable outfit choice) before ultimately fading away with a shocking and self-imposed early retirement.
Uzi, like Luck, had every right to end his career when he wanted, but that didn’t make it any more upsetting when, at the peak of his powers, he made an out-of-nowhere announcement last January.
“I wanna take the time out to say I thank each and every one of my supporters but I’m done with music,” he wrote on Instagram. “I deleted everything. I wanna be normal.”
But that was 14 months ago. Now, Uzi is back where he always belonged — climbing to the top of the world. The only difference is that it’s finally all on his terms.
Eternal Atake, the album Uzi released to a swirl of fan hysteria and critical praise last Friday, was never supposed to see the light of day. The record, which has reportedly been finished since 2018, managed to survive about a dozen delays, a monstrous label dispute and of course, Uzi’s multi-month retirement.
It’s also got the strongest, most cohesive collection of songs Uzi has ever put together. Eternal Atake doesn’t do anything new, but it does everything right. It’s the complete version of what a Lil Uzi album can be — it’s full of pop-focused hooks, buzzy electro-beats and the same brand of half-mumbling, half-singing raps that made Luv Is Rage 2 so satisfying.
Uzi always had what it took to be a pop star. That fact has been evident since 2016, when early hits like “Money Longer” and “You Was Right” slithered their way into mainstream rap radio play. But if there’s anything to take away from the year that Uzi’s had, it’s that he’s fully focused on making music his way.
That means without meddling label heads. Without the mid-fame stresses that made him ready to quit. And, seemingly, without another voice in the room (the album has only one feature) to steer his melodic vision.
Because Uzi’s music has always been singular. His songs flow in a freeform, carefree way that can only succeed when its creator has room to move freely.
That freedom is present through every second of Eternal Atake — and if that realization doesn’t make for the best album of 2020 so far, it certainly makes for the year’s most exciting comeback.
The *also* most important
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Rick Rubin remains music’s most interesting man: The legendary producer, still a barefoot hippie version of the Dos Equis man, keeps using his icon status to bag incredible interviews. This time, it’s BROCKHAMPTON’s Kevin Abstract, who sits in Rubin’s backyard and chats about songwriting, insecurities and mental health.
Big bops, new tunes
Sorry Action Bronson, but there’s a new chef-rapper in town: Matty Matheson, one of the internet’s most famous and famously absurd chefs, spent the debut episode of Benny Blanco’s new YouTube show taking baths, eating Mexican food and talking about Beyoncé. But most importantly, the duo pays a visit to Kenny Beats’ “The Cave,” studio, where Matheson lays down a completely insane song with zero rhyming whatsoever.
Social media flex of the week
Jay-Z still holds the celebrity dad crown: If your dad is Jay-Z, there are only a few people you’re allowed to be afraid of — LeBron James is one of those people. Thankfully, mega-dad Sean Carte was ready to help Blue Ivy overcome her anxiety when she met The King for the first time this week.