By Seth Holland
For some fanbases, the wait for a new album can be a long, drawn-out affair.
Frank Ocean fans waited four years for another album following his debut, and Lil Uzi Vert fans have been waiting for his latest release, Eternal Atake, for over two years. Hailing from Philadelphia, Uzi has carved out a spot in hip-hop with his unique, bright sounds and lighthearted rhymes that stand in contrast to the serious lyrics spit over more conventional trap beats heard from most others in the genre today. This bubbly energy drives Eternal Atake, an album that succeeds at creating its own space in both Uzi’s discography and in providing a refreshing soundscape.
“Welcome to Eternal Atake” are the first words heard in the opening track “Baby Pluto,” which serves as a solid sample of what’s to come for the next hour. Uzi’s style of goofy, bragging lyrics returns, sounding as good as ever, with his penchant for catchy flows and melodies on full display from the start.
“Lo Mein” is more quality, with a brief skit at the end that begins the album’s running theme of Uzi being abducted by aliens. “Silly Watch” immediately begins and has a banging beat with a piano loop paired with a tolling bell that gives the track an ominous tone that contrasts well with the flows Uzi raps over it. “POP” is another song with a bass-heavy instrumental but ends up being one of the weaker offerings on the album, due mainly to Uzi falling slightly off beat a few times and repetitive lyrics that would make the Migos blush.
The next song, “You Better Move,” samples the old Microsoft Windows desktop pinball game, which was all I needed to hear to be sold on it. The old-school sampling, bumping “Homecoming” is both catchy and shoulder roll-able, with Uzi flowing as well as he ever has.
The instrumentals shift in tone beyond this point, bringing a sound closer to the mixtapes that made Uzi blow up four years ago. “I’m Sorry” and “Celebration Station” feature bubbly instrumentals reminiscent of the “Futsal Shuffle 2020” single while avoiding the pitfall of sounding like a one-off gimmick.
Background singers provide some needed variety in the guitar-sampling “Bigger Than Life,” the Chief Keef-produced “Chrome Heart Tags,” the appropriately spacy “Bust Me” and the infectiously catchy “Prices.” This consistent but new sound helps keep the album from getting stale while also giving the middle of the track list a subtle instrumental theme. It’s a nice touch that other non-lyrical rappers could use in the future when releasing their monstrously bloated albums that makes them more user-friendly for listeners.
The only feature in the entirety of Eternal Atake is utilized well on “Urgency,” in which Syd, of The Internet fame, provides a solid counterpart to Uzi’s melodies.
“Venetia” is a song that Uzi’s mixtape fans are likely to enjoy, with a sound similar to those heard on his 2015 Luv is Rage release. Unfortunately, the project’s second miss is in “Secure the Bag,” which is not bad, but is a little bland instrumentally for coming this late in the album.
The closing song, “P2,” will sound very familiar to anyone who was listening to rap in 2017, as it is a sequel to Uzi’s opus “XO Tour Llif3.” It serves as a good closer and throwback, using the same drum pattern as its predecessor while maintaining some of the vocal melodies that made the original such an earworm. This is followed by two bonus tracks, the aforementioned “Futsal Shuffle 2020,” which was never a personal favorite of mine, and the Backstreet Boys-interpolating “That Way.”
The prior sounds much better in the context of the album, and the latter is a pretty standard Uzi track. Both are solid bonus tracks and sound much more refined than many other artists’ bonus offerings.
Unbelievably, Eternal Atake was worth the wait.
Uzi has returned as light-hearted and catchy as he ever was, providing a wonderful batch of unique trap rap that brings much-needed variety to the stale subgenre. Are there any ground-breaking lyrics or layers of storytelling here? No. Are there songs so catchy that they embed themselves deep inside your auditory cortex? Absolutely.
It may seem like it should not be a modern marvel for a trap album to have an hour-long runtime and not make me want to vomit from exhaustion or boredom, but it is truthfully both astounding and refreshing.
It’s shoulder roll season and I’m more than here for it. 8/10