Uzi Vert’s Pink Tape is a lengthy and daring album that gets lost in its array of visions, equipped with both career highs and lows.
Philly hasn’t had too many A-list rappers make it out the state. Symere Woods, aka Lil Uzi Vert, has been the torchbearer for new gen rap ever since 2015. They escaped the SoundCloud pigeonhole, contrary to certain gatekeepers’ beliefs, continuing to bag viral hits and number one albums. Colourful tunes are all across their formative mixtapes, as well as their first LPs, 2017’s Luv Is Rage 2 and 2020’s Eternal Atake. Once again delivering a highly-anticipated release, Pink Tape eventually arrived and became the first hip hop record to top the Billboard 200 in 2023, ending the longest gap in a calendar year since Cypress Hill’s 1993 album, Black Sunday.
Time and time again, Uzi has insisted they’re a rockstar. Pink Tape very much fulfils that prophecy, though it comes at a cost of cohesion, lack of focus and plenty filler.
Pink Tape has a lot going on. At 87 minutes and 26 tracks, it is a massive commitment for a listener. There’s a combination of genres in play, including Uzi’s signature trap (“Flooded the Face”, “Of Course), emo rap (“All Alone”, “Mama, I’m Sorry”), Jersey club (“Just Wanna Rock”) and dedicated metal efforts (“CS”, “Werewolf”, “The End”). It results in Uzi’s most polarising record to date, swerving across multiple lanes for an experience of pure mayhem.
Pink Tape is at its best when it dares to be different. The punk rap “Suicide Doors” explodes into life with its brash electric guitars, charismatic vocal performances, and “BITCH!” adlibs. “Fire Alarm” is a conclusively weird cut fit for a rave with flashing strobe lights. In the metal department, Uzi infamously covers System of a Down’s “Chop Suey” verbatim, leading to polarising reception from music communities. While it can never live up to the original, if you’re accustomed to Uzi’s nasal habits, “CS” is a valid cover. “Werewolf” recruits Bring Me the Horizon whom wisely dominate the track. The heaviest track comes in “The End” with Japanese metal band Babymetal, their juvenile vocals contrasting the sharp production. In these moments, Uzi commits to the rockstar persona and comes the other side with key album highlights.
At its core, Pink Tape is an impressive album. But its choice to pack 90 minutes of material bogs down the allure. There are various stretches of filler across the tracklist, notably cuts like “Spin Again” and “That Fiya”. Other tracks may not be skips but could be omitted and not be missed at all (“Pluto to Mars”, “Rehab”, “x2”), or are enjoyable but simply feel out of place amongst all the metal and rage rap (“Patience”). Quality control is not in play here, and if DJ Drama is to believed, close to 700 songs were recorded for the album before it came down to twenty-six. It’s hard to believe Uzi laid down tracks like “Nakamura” and thought songs aforementioned came close to its standard.
You never truly know where Lil Uzi Vert will be going next. Even through the fodder, Pink Tape is a creative statement with the highlights to match.
6.5 / 10
Best tracks: “Of Course”, “Days Come and Go”, “Suicide Doors”, “Just Wanna Rock”, “Nakamura”, “Fire Alarm”, “The End”, “Werewolf”