Lil Uzi Vert
About Lil Uzi Vert
Lil Uzi Vert told us up front, in his intro to Playboi Carti’s “Wokeuplikethis*”: “I’m a rock star.” The metaphor wasn’t about dominance so much as it was about flamboyance, for Uzi as a purse-carrying, post-Kanye MC raised on anime and Marilyn Manson, whose indifference towards hip-hop orthodoxy made him a punk to some and a hero to more. Where previous generations of rappers leveraged influence through the boardroom (JAY-Z: “I’m not a businessman/I’m a business, man”), Uzi represents a generation fluent in fashion and social media, not just a recording artist but a kind of creative director whose personality and sense of world-building comes through almost as loudly as the music. That he could turn a line as bleak as “Push me to the edge/All my friends are dead” (“XO TOUR Llif3”) into a sing-along only made him more vital—here was a guy feeling the pain and packaging it in style. So, a rock star, maybe. But definitely not a rapper in the traditional sense.
Born Symere Woods in North Philadelphia in 1994, Uzi first started rapping to one-up a classmate, quickly making the leap to national relevance through features with Young Thug and Migos while building a tight-knit collective of producers and collaborators, known as Working on Dying, at home. Like Thug, Uzi is a distinctive rapper (the stage name was given, not taken), but the key to his sound is melody, mixing post-trap rumble with the candied hooks of pop punk and neon surfaces of EDM for a style that splits the starkness of modern hip-hop into prismatic colour. After the massive success of 2017’s Luv Is Rage 2, Uzi announced that he’d deleted all works in progress and was retiring, only to surface in 2020 with the almost mythically anticipated Eternal Atake, following the album about a week later with a deluxe edition that doubled its length. Guess he had to find something to do with the free time. Speaking to Apple Music in 2017, he described himself as an alien, but the reality is more interesting: He’s of the earth, he’s here, he’s now.
BORN31 July 1994