“In New York, I milly rock, hide it in my sock,” a line off Playboi Carti’s latest single, “Magnolia,” has probably weaseled its way onto your Twitter timeline, accompanied by a group of industrial goths dancing under a bridge. Playboi Carti, a frontrunner for the 2017 XXL Freshman List and A$AP Mob affiliate, released his self-titled mixtape last week, propelling Carti Season into full force. Influenced by the South Atlanta rap scene in which Gucci Mane reigned supreme, Playboi Carti provides his dose of charisma through his heavily anticipated 15-track mixtape.
Carti’s musical catalog before his debut project was fairly limited. He only dropped a couple of features and hits, and the idea of a cohesive project reached mythical proportions. Soundcloud has provided a medium for the new wave of VLONE-clad rappers to gain cult fanatical status, as their songs become the emblematic hype anthems for car rides and parties around the world. If you are looking for a rapper to give you a concept album sprinkled with samples and conscious messages about our society, head to Kendrick and Joey Bada$$’s latest albums — as Playboi Carti will not give you the same plethora of confounding statements. When one listens to Carti, they don’t listen to find groundbreaking thematic revelations or witty metaphors hidden within his lyrics. Rather, they listen for the progressive beats and Carti’s earworm tracks that ease their way into the listener’s mentality.
The producer masterminds behind Carti’s project are Pierre Bourne, Harry Fraud, Southside, Ricci Riera and Roark Baily — all are part of the group of unsung heroes behind your favorite Soundcloud rappers. Twenty-three-year-old Bourne is credited for six songs on the tape, implementing his audio engineering magic to illuminate the catchy singles “wokeuplikethis” and “Magnolia.” As for Carti’s narrative contents, you can expect to find hints of exemplary fashion advice like rocking Ksubi jeans, Alexander McQueen and Rick Owens. Carti grants opportunities for his fellow Raf Simons consumers to display their talents, as illustrated by the captivating track “New Choppa,” where A$AP Rocky delivers his smooth cadence when rapping about his fast Adidas.
The graduation from the “Broke Boi” rapper who was still working retail at H&M while dropping songs on Soundcloud to the Carti that is selective on the ice he buys is evident throughout the tracklisting. The infectious bassline that pounds in the stellar banger, “Magnolia,” takes the listener on an excursion into Carti’s lifestyle. Two lively collaborations containing muffled keyboard melodies with Lil Uzi Vert — “wokeuplikethis” and “Lookin” — have well over 20 million plays on Soundcloud and have designated spots on everyone’s pre-game playlists. The closest Carti gets to lamenting is when he raps about his reliance on Xanax in “Let It Go,” likening the drug to a controlling force of his life. The juxtaposition in Carti’s tape is that it is often categorized in the last tier of what purist rap consumers would ever find compelling, but it is merely impossible not to start shimmying your shoulders like Lil Uzi Vert and replicating Carti’s occasional ad-libs. Attempting to not like Carti is similar to trying not to eat all your McDonald’s fries while you’re driving home. You will eventually cave into temptation and find yourself humming along to his beats, despite your self-containment to never associate with “hypebeast music.”
Despite trap music being a means of pure entertainment rather than contributing exceptional social commentary, Carti’s music could use some improvement. However, this will all come in time, since, again, he is only 20 years old. In a future follow-up, Carti can provide more of an auditory variance in flow delivery and experiment with versatile lyrics, allowing him to be more engaging rather than remaining repetitive throughout a whole project. Frank Ocean, everyone’s favorite singer, has collaborated with Carti on an unreleased track which may never get to bless the ears of the public. In the words of Carti himself, “We made a song and it was very lit, I don’t know if the world’s going to get it, though.” If Frank Ocean can indulge in Carti’s sound guilt-free, anyone can be driven to the pleasure-filled land of production excellency, designer brands and jewelry pieces found on Carti’s tape.