Whether you love him or hate him, it is impossible to deny that Playboi Carti is one of the most followed and influential artists in rap. His minimalistic style and focus on beats over lyrical quality make him a controversial figure, but it has created one of the most dedicated fanbases in music today. This popularity can be seen in the constant leaking of his music, both in the form of looped snippets from his social media and leaked files collected by entrepreneurial hackers.
Pictured here is the album cover for Playboi Carti’s highly anticipated sophomore album, Whole Lotta Red (WLR). While fans have been waiting upwards of two years for new music, the new album has been extremely controversial for the fanbase, with some loving and others hating it.
When polled about their feelings towards the album, Avonworth students were similarly divided, with 53% believing it to be good and 47% disagreeing. This divide likely comes as a result of the style shift seen from Carti between the release of his last album, Die Lit, and this one. While he has always been a fairly polarizing figure due to his lack of emphasis on lyricism, the new nightmarish undertones present in his music give more of a punk feel than the typical trap music Carti is known for.
Carti has been making music for an extremely long time, beginning in 2012 under the name Sir Cartier, eventually changing his name to Playboi Carti before rising to popularity in 2015 with the song ‘Broke Boi.’ For the majority of his career, he has been a fairly typical SoundCloud rapper and many credit him with popularizing a now very familiar repetitive and beat-focused brand of trap music. And while some fans are more than content with his old style and subject matter, it is clear through the branding and sound of this album that a now 25-year-old Carti felt the need to evolve.
This photo showing Carti as a vampire was taken from his Twitter and originally used for the promotion of WLR. It represents the overall shift in style seen in the new body of work, with darker, gothic themes being introduced into his unique brand of trap. The project also features slightly different beats, with a heavier focus on the use of synthesizers that create an ethereal feeling on tracks like “F33l Lik3 Dyin”, and “M3tamorphisis”.
The changes in theme and beat style are furthered by more use of his trademarked ‘baby voice’ (when he under enunciates and speaks in a higher voice) than ever before. This is especially true on the songs “King Vamp” and “Meh” and helps to explain why the project has turned out to be so divisive across the fanbase. Many fans argue that this new style is a misstep for Carti, but I disagree. Some of the highlights of this album showcase Carti at his most experimental, such as “Stop Breathing” and “ILoveUIHateU”. It is because of songs such as this, which stick out despite being some of the most different music he has produced in years. Stagnation is one of the worst things that can happen to an artist, making WLR a good thing for Carti as a whole as it indicates his continued ability for creativity and creating groundbreaking music.
Pictured from left to right: Senior Nate Boyd, Sophmore Zoli Eadie, Junior Duncan Rooney, and Sophmore Leo Paccione. Taken at the Pittsburgh stop on Carti’s Narcissist tour, this image shows the strong fanbase that exists even at Avonworth. While many disliked the new style upon its release, most have warmed up to it, and the tour for WLR has been met with extremely positive reception. The show features extended guitar solos as intros to most songs, which according to Nate Boyd add quite a bit to the performance, hyping the crowd up for what will play next.
Also taken at Carti’s Pittsburgh show is this picture, showing him on stage covered in fog with the crowd below him. It represents the darker, mysterious style that this album possesses and helps to explain why this tour has been so well received. Carti has always attempted to create a certain vibe with his music, and this album took this idea to another level. For this reason, concerts performing his new music are some of the most engaging and exciting in the scene right now.
For many dedicated Carti fans, this release was worrying and showed a decline in quality. However, in my opinion, this new project features some of his best and most creative work. I belive that this album will have a lasting impact on the rap scene as a whole, and I implore those who did not like it upon its release to give it another chance and watch out for upcoming albums influenced by its gothic themes and entrancing beats.