Playboi Carti - Whole Lotta Red Music Album Reviews

Playboi Carti - Whole Lotta Red Music Album Reviews
The Atlanta rapper’s third record is both wildly innovative and strikingly consistent. It’s hard, melodic, experimental, and unlike anything else happening in mainstream rap.

Whole Lotta Red functions like a pressure cooker. Playboi Carti takes an endless supply of bright and serrated beats and packs them together, end on end, so that the album seems to careen wildly toward an unknown destination. Those beats are then populated by the 24-year-old’s most outré, expressive vocals yet, a string of barks, ad-libbed shards, and crooned melodies that compound the mania. The effect is to make Whole Lotta Red’s predecessor, 2018’s already intense Die Lit, sound nearly staid by comparison––and Carti’s slightly cloudy, self-titled debut from 2017 seem positively tranquilized.
Despite his youth and his brisk release schedule, Carti’s cultish fanbase would have you believe that the periods between his records are long droughts, ones that can only be weathered with frenzied detective work. It is easy to find hours-long playlists of unreleased Carti songs, some ripped in 15-second increments from Instagram stories, others leaked by hangers-on or purchased from enterprising hackers. For an artist who already has an audience’s attention, snippets and half-finished leaks can be more effective than singles: Our brains correct for the compression of sound by imagining the fullest possible mix, and hearing the most interesting parts of a song—the bridge that everyone in the studio agrees is the best part, the opening four-bar run that justifies the track’s existence—suggests a more exciting finished product than the one that, in all likelihood, exists.

Whole Lotta Red transposes that thrill of hearing an inspired work-in-progress and builds it out into a fully realized style. There is no imposed formality of structure or delivery that could stiffen Carti or bleed the life out of the demos; instead, there is “New Tank,” which seems to have a half-dozen chorus ideas that are dispensed in a single long take. Verses disintegrate into Gregorian chants; “D-R-A-C-O” is spelled out repeatedly as if Carti’s trying to win the world’s most heavily armed spelling bee; the middle of the absolutely skull-rattling “Stop Breathing” is built around a single, constant ad-lib sound. Even when songs do conform to more traditional arrangements, they arrive at them in unexpected ways. “Beno!” opens with an aside about Carti buying his sister a Jeep, a cute and specific image in step with the beat, which sounds like an iPhone ringing in heaven. It’s only halfway through the song that it becomes clear that aside—one of the least-produced vocal stretches on the album—will be repurposed and repeated as a chorus. At its best, Whole Lotta Red sounds like Carti’s voice memos have been laid over the most punishing production he could find.

One of the signature elements of Carti’s style has been his so-called “baby voice,” a softer touch in a higher register. He has not completely excised it from Whole Lotta Red, but the album’s most arresting moments come when Carti is rasping, evidently on the verge of losing his breath. (WLR smartly opens with one of its most propulsive songs, where Carti’s voice sounds as if it’s already been strained by an hour-long performance.) Most impressive is the way Carti has merged his delivery with his pared-down writing style, like when he gets stuck on the line “When I go to sleep, I dream about murder,” delivered over and over in a threatening stage whisper.

For an album with such an extensive list of producers and co-producers—there are 24 beats, and only two from longtime collaborator Pi’erre Bourne—WLR maintains a strikingly consistent palette of mostly electronic sounds. But those sounds are deployed in dizzyingly varied ways, from the white-hot punkish tracks near the beginning to the evolutions of early-2010s molly rap that pop up toward its end. (Sometimes there are literal echoes: KP Beatz and Jonah Abraham’s “No Sl33p,” which comes immediately after Juberlee and Roark Bailey’s “Slay3r,” might as well have been built around a hummed recollection of “Slay3r.”) There is sinister Atlanta rap scaffolding—Richie Souf’s “JumpOutTheHouse” sounds like something an agitated Gucci Mane might have jumped on in 2008—but also a refreshing sense of humor, and a looseness that allows the zaniest idea to occasionally win. On “Vamp Anthem,” when KP and Jasper Harris—I’m not sure how to say this—chop up Johann Sebastian Bach’s “Toccata and Fugue in D Minor,” you can practically see Carti laying the vocals in a black cape and those plastic Halloween fangs.

The core element of Whole Lotta Red is its hyperkinetic pacing, especially in its extended opening run. With the three-song set of “New N3on,” “Control,” and “Punk Monk,” the album transitions from its buzzsaw front half to the more exultant back, but also introduces minor problems of bloat and pacing: Each of these three songs has a better-executed analogue elsewhere on the tracklist, though “Monk” is redeemed in part by the industry intrigue it airs. And the trio of guest appearances (a phoned-in Future verse on “Teen X,” stock Kid Cudi on the texturally interesting but too-long “M3tamorphosis,” and executive producer Kanye West’s verse on “Go2DaMoon”) should all have been left on a hard drive somewhere. These are quibbles, mostly, but they add up—less for being outright failures on their own terms, and more for derailing the momentum that Carti otherwise so carefully creates.

It’s one thing for a 24-song, hour-long album that had become an object of such intense speculation to deliver on its promise. That it does so while maintaining an aura of mystery around its creator is doubly impressive. In some ways, Carti’s public persona betrays his fixation on high fashion: the rapper as couture, something you can’t simply walk into a department store and see, touch, own. His work, or at least traces of it, seems ever-present, but the man himself is a bit of a ghost. By contrast, the songs on Whole Lotta Red are urgent, immediate. While they seldom trade in anything like autobiography, they cut close to the bone all the same.
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About Wanni Arachchige Udara Madusanka Perera

Hey, I'm Perera! I will try to give you technology reviews(mobile,gadgets,smart watch & other technology things), Automobiles, News and entertainment for built up your knowledge.
Playboi Carti - Whole Lotta Red Music Album Reviews Playboi Carti - Whole Lotta Red Music Album Reviews Reviewed by Wanni Arachchige Udara Madusanka Perera on January 12, 2021 Rating: 5


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