If Lil Uzi Vert is setting the bar, rap today is having a very “post” moment.
The video for Uzi’s “XO Tour Llif3,” released Sept. 4, is, at the very least, post-cliché. There’s no discernible narrative and for over four minutes viewers are treated to a jumbled montage of a bejeweled Uzi dancing in post-apocalyptic scenes. The excessive use of blood, zombies and The Weeknd feels right, however, certainly compatible with Uzi’s loaded career thus far. It’s the rapper’s — or “rock star’s” — latest display of his post-sadboy vulnerability machine, served with a side of post-trap/punk/middle finger-blasting verve, and it all further adds to the brand.
Frequent Kanye West collaborator Virgil Abloh directs the video, which explains the traces of West’s now-iconic 2007 “Stronger” video. The 1980s-esque filters and bold Arabic subtitles are the most obvious parallels to Kanye’s Akira-alluding epic, and this time around shots of dismembered bodies in a bathtub (first shown around the 1:14 mark) lend to the video’s post-punk feel. That’s not to mention Uzi’s trademark emo touch, seeping through in oversaturated and overstated purples.
The song itself, by now an absolute hit, touches on death, loneliness and life purpose, among other introspective crises rarely approached in this space. And Uzi complements the confessional with a so — wait for it — post-rap video that it excels more in aesthetic than substance. He’s beyond conventional rap spectacle, and such flirtation with this sort of rugged touchiness, even amidst some aesthetic confusion, is setting him apart day by day.