Lil Uzi Vert takes listeners to Pluto and beyond on ‘Eternal Atake’
I originally intended on starting this review of Eternal Atake with a discussion of all the good things that come in small packages, like smartphones, Danny DeVito and Mini Coopers (which aren’t even that great on second thought). I was somehow going to tie it all back to Lil Uzi Vert, the pint-sized Philadelphia energy bomb who is the rapper embodiment of good things coming in small packages. Uzi just surprise-released his highly anticipated sophomore album Eternal Atake last week, so I planned on discussing all the ways such a small man could hold so many excellent ideas inside of him. Now, though, that all feels pointless because Uzi just dropped another bomb on us. After a steady stream of Twitter promotions, Lil Uzi Vert has just released the deluxe edition of Eternal Atake. Normally this would not be earth-shattering news because a deluxe edition is typically just a couple of new songs tacked on to the end of an album in an effort to boost sales. Not this time. Uzi released fourteen new songs (an entire new album!) called LUV vs. The World 2 as the deluxe edition of Eternal Atake, and it has rocked the world.
The diminutive rapper has been trying to release Eternal Atake for almost two and a half years, but for some reason, his label bosses DJ Drama and Don Cannon kept blocking him from doing so. After countless leaks, several failed rollout attempts (which gave listeners gems like “Sanguine Paradise” and “That’s a Rack”), threatening to quit music multiple times and signing a new management deal with Roc Nation, Uzi has finally dropped the album. By dropping a deluxe edition, he definitely made sure it was worth the wait.
Uzi claims that with the deluxe edition, we finally have the album’s intended track sequence. That is to say, LUV vs. the World 2 comes before Eternal Atake, and it makes sense. LUV vs. the World 2 is composed of fan grails and Uzi’s most hyped snippets, some of which date back as far as 2016, whereas Eternal Atake is all new songs that are, to be blunt, fresh as hell. LUV vs. the World 2 is by no means bad, but it doesn’t really sound new. It sounds like Lil Uzi Vert circa 2016. Still, it’s got some excellent songs. “Myron” is the clear standout and most hyped by fans, but deep cuts like the frantic, violent, Lil Durk-assisted “No Auto” and the brooding, contemplative “Moon Relate” keep the ball rolling.
As a standalone album LUV vs. the World 2, despite the quality of the tracks, lacks the cohesion needed to stick with people, but that doesn’t matter. LUV vs. the World 2 is not a standalone album and it doesn’t have to be. Rather, it is something of an appetizer to the main course that is Eternal Atake.
Loosely connected by several unclear, largely forgettable skits and divided into three distinct parts, Eternal Atake describes Uzi’s alien abduction and his eventual return to Earth. It kicks off with “Baby Pluto,” which introduces Uzi’s deliriously quick-tongued alter ego Baby Pluto to the world. On the track, Uzi raps and he raps and he raps, as if he has bottomless lungs, about nothing in particular. For the next five songs, there is no Lil Uzi Vert: Baby Pluto reigns supreme. Uzi rarely shows this side of himself, so this part of the album is a real treat. He’s not the best lyricist (see lines like “Hit your bitch, yeah, she make me wan’ body rock / Yeah, your bitch, she a thotty, old thotty-thot”), but he doesn’t have to be when he flows like he does on “Homecoming” and the Full Tilt! Pinball-sampling “You Better Move.”
After “Homecoming,” though, Uzi’s focus abruptly shifts. On the next portion of the album, from the somber “I’m Sorry” to the triumphant “Prices,” he moves from breathing fire to healing spirits as he assumes a new persona he calls Renji. This new persona is defined by saccharine flows and restorative instrumentals. He’s still rapping, but he’s not spitting. Uzi stretches his words and twists his flows, focusing on creating and manicuring the desired and more cathartic vibe. The Renji portion of the album certainly stands out, because Uzi has never really done anything like this before. Hell, he even connects with none other than Chief Keef over “Chrome Hearts Tags” heavenly, ethereal beat. However, in this stretch of standouts, no song sits more prominently than “Bigger than Life.” On this track, Uzi finds himself in uncharted territory as he reflects on his life over a guitar-driven beat that sounds like he’s floating miles above Earth. It’s unlike any other Uzi song, and it’s all the better for it. Truly, it is a must-listen on an album filled with must-listens.
On the third and final stretch of Eternal Atake, Uzi finds himself back inside Earth’s atmosphere. Gone are all the personas and alter egos — now, he’s just the Lil Uzi Vert we all know and love. These songs are more like Uzi’s typical fare, which is just what listeners needed after the rollercoaster ride of the first two-thirds of the album. However, he still manages to find time to turn some heads. On “P2,” Uzi flips his now iconic “XO TOUR Llif3,” and honestly, it’s perfect. It’s the perfect way to end an album that he clearly put so much time and effort into. It’s something of a “thank you” to his fans. “XO TOUR Llif3” is the song that made Uzi into the rapstar he is today; to take a song that fans know and love, reimagine it to fit his current image and then close his biggest album to date with it clearly shows his gratitude to the fans for sticking with him for the past two-and-a-half years.
What a rush. Thirty songs in an hour and forty five minutes is a marathon in popular rap, and Lil Uzi Vert made it feel like a 100 meter dash. Every song brought something new to the table, and it was never boring. He explored several sounds, and executed them all flawlessly. You can’t help but be proud of Lil Uzi Vert; in Eternal Atake, he found both himself and his artistic voice, and in doing so, he also released a smash-mega-super-hit album that has catapulted him directly out of the atmosphere, past stardom, and directly into super-stardom.