After two gruesome years of waiting, rapper Playboi Carti released his much-anticipated album, Whole Lotta Red. The album contains 24 tracks and spans one hour and three minutes long. It also contains features from Kanye West, Kid Cudi, and Future.
After his first full-length album, Die Lit, released in 2018, Playboi Carti was crowned king of avant-garde punk-rap. Not everyone understood the appeal, but amongst esteemed music critics and Carti fans, the album received a lot of praise. Only a few months later, Carti announced his next album Whole Lotta Red for the first time while shopping in a jewelry store. Unbeknownst to fans at the time, this would become a theme for Carti. At concerts, interviews, and Instagram lives he would build hype for the highly-anticipated album, but time-and-time again failed to deliver on his promise of dropping it...until now on Christmas day.
The album opens with “Rockstar Made”, a theme-setter for what is to come. The rapper croons, "Rockstar made, Rockstar made, never too much” over a digital loop-it’s Carti’s hour. Next is “Go2DaMoon” featuring Kanye West, a song that was previewed by Carti himself on Instagram. Even then, the song exceeded expectations. Kanye hadn’t rapped like this in years, but as always he manages to bring up his Christianity. Carti finishes off the song with a quick, forgettable verse-Kanye took the spotlight on this one.
Then comes “Stop Breathing”, “Beno!”, and “Jumpoutthehouse” three songs that didn’t have to be on the album as they don’t bring much value, the best being Beno!. It is more of what you expect from Carti, the digital looped sounds, and 808s. There are some notable lyrics though, On Stop Breathing, he mentions underground rap legend MF Doom saying, “I just hit the bitch with a mask MF Doom” then he goes into the hook “I take my shirt off and then the hoe stop breathing”. He experiments with his vocals on these three songs. Jumpoutthehouse he uses some synthesizer on the hook to give himself a unique echo.
On “Me3tamorphosis”, he transcends. Cudi hums in the back, Carti raps with passion. He embodies the song, “when you feel like this can’t nobody tell me shit” a line he used in a 2016 interview with complex. He goes on, “I feel like God”. Cudi enters with energy unseen on his album Man on the Moon 3. This is not to say he lacks energy on his recent album, but it certainly has less of a monotone feel than other tracks he has put out recently.
Image from Playboi Carti's Instagram
There are a bunch of catchy songs like “Slayer” (which he uses his normal voice for) and the song he previewed on Instagram “Vamp Anthem”. Carti is just having fun at this point. He follows these up with “No Sl33p”, “New Tank”, and “Teen X” (feat. Future). Both “No Sl33p” and “New Tank” are some of the most aggressive tracks on the album with him repeating “When I go to sleep I dream bout’ murder” on “No Sl33p”, and talking about robbing a bank in “New Tank”. Carti switches it up with “Teen X”, where both Carti and Future rap over a heavily layered “sweet” beat of sorts.
The fan-favorite leak “New N3on”, appears as the 13th track to kick off the second half of the album, but it still goes hard as ever. If the whole album was like this, I don’t think anyone would mind. It seems a bit out of place though-it was made long before any of these other songs, similar to “Place” and “ILoveUIHateU”.
On the second half of the album, there are no features, it’s purely Carti and his vision for the album. It is slightly different from the first half-the raps are about the same things (rockstar life and an "I don't give a shit” attitude) but they are tighter, and the beats are more Playboi Carti-esque. The songs towards the end are more relaxed and he is more reflective and nostalgic, like he says in “Over”(another song previewed on Instagram), “how the fuck we got to where we started, the love don’t feel the same like when we started...my back to the wall!” On “Die4Guy” he raps about how he would put his life on the line for his blood brother, Reggie Cartier, and how he was inspired by him at an early age. He delivers beautiful auto-tuned vocals on the hook of “Not PLaying." Then the album ends with “F33l Like3 Dyin” which has a sung sample which is rare for Carti to use. He reflects more on his mom, traveling the world, greatness, stardom, and love. At 23 years old he has experienced more than someone twice his age. Some of the second half features include “Vamp Anthem”, “Place”, “Over”, “Not PLaying”, and our personal favorites, “New N3on”, “Sky”, and “ILoveUIHateU”.
That concludes the album. There are many good songs but almost as many forgettable ones. Overall, this is a good album that’ll probably settle well in years to come as Die Lit did. Carti has already taken to Twitter to not only announce a deluxe album, but also ask the fans what songs they want on it (from his leaks/snippets). We saw Lil Uzi Vert do a similar thing on his deluxe for Eternal Atake. Carti has leaked features from Post Malone, Travis, Kid Cudi, and more that weren’t on the album, so they will most likely be on the deluxe.
All in all, this album has absolutely divided the rap industry. You have people saying it’s good, and just as many saying it’s bad. Only time will tell how Whole Lotta Red ages, but for now we can judge by our early listens. What do you guys think of the album?
Article by Huey and Zach Smith Instagram: @chukieoj @zachsmithh4