Luv Is Rage 2 [Deluxe Edition] [CD] [Parental Advisory]
Photographer: Spike Jordan.
After the steady release of EPs and mixtapes in the three years following his debut, Philadelphia rapper Lil Uzi Vert finally issued his first official studio full-length in 2017. A sequel to his 2015 mixtape, Luv Is Rage 2 celebrated Uzi's rapid ascent in the hip-hop world, marking his mainstream breakthrough with the single "XO Tour Llife3" and peaking at the top spot of the Billboard 200. While production -- courtesy of Don Cannon, TM88, Metro Boomin, WondaGurl, and more -- improved upon that of his mixtapes, the colorful lyrical content remained as dark, hedonistic, and candid as ever, with Uzi layering rhymes about sex and drugs atop vulnerable moments relating to a tough breakup. Despite featuring high-profile guests like Pharrell Williams ("Neon Guts") and the Weeknd ("UnFazed"), Uzi fares better on his own, his oddball personality and endearing uniqueness adding flavor to highlights like "Two r" and "Sauce It Up." A sample of Oh Wonder's "Landslide" elevates single "The Way Life Goes," a melodic pop moment that finds Uzi in a tender and yearning state. The catchiness of the track is contrasted by its dour subject matter, giving Luv Is Rage 2 an appreciable depth. The hypnotic "For Real" bounces along a blipping beat; provided by DJ Plugg and Bobby Kritical, it's one of the best produced moments on the album. For pure thrills, "Early 20 Rager" booms, a stomping stand out that injects an undeniable energy to Luv Is Rage 2. Although Uzi's post-breakup pain rears its head throughout the entirety of the album, many of the tracks are too fun to get too bogged down in emotions. ~ Neil Z. Yeung