The road to Philadelphia emo-rapper Lil Uzi Vert’s second studio album “Eternal Atake” has been ripe with hype and controversy. After three years of fan speculations, contract disputes with Atlantic Records and butting heads with the Heaven’s Gate cult, “Eternal Atake” surprise-dropped on the morning of March 6. The release exploded on social media, and Lil Uzi Vert occupied 17 of the top 20 songs on the U.S. Top 50 charts on Spotify.
Lil Uzi Vert has amassed a cult-like following over the course of his career due to his irresistible charisma, and with an album rollout lasting three years, “Eternal Atake” had otherworldly expectations. The album not only lives up to these expectations, but is Lil Uzi Vert’s magnum opus — an outer space odyssey where Lil Uzi Vert’s artistic talent is on full display.
The concept of “Eternal Atake” involves Lil Uzi morphing into his two alter-egos, Baby Pluto and Orenji, as he traverses the universe on a quest to explore new sounds. These themes are displayed in the short film “BabyPluto,” which shows Uzi working a tedious desk job before discovering extraterrestrial life. The concept is solidly executed over the course of 18 songs.
The first six tracks introduce Lil Uzi Vert’s alter ego Baby Pluto through aggressive, triplet-laden flows and lyrics that describe the materialistic undertones surrounding modern trap while simultaneously defying trap conventions. The album opener, “Baby Pluto,” is Uzi at his peak. Uzi raps off the dome and lays down verse after verse before the drums kick in and create an unearthly aura.
Another highlight from the first act of the album is “You Better Move,” which brilliantly samples the classic Windows 95 game Space Pinball to craft a beat only Uzi could occupy. To accompany the video game beat, Uzi spits similarly geeky bars, the highlight being, “Yu-Gi-Oh, Yu-Gi-Oh, you wanna duel?/Blue-Eyes White Dragon, no, I will not lose.”
At the end of “Homecoming,” an infectious and elastic song that is too one-note for its runtime and feels incomplete without an additional feature, Uzi is ejected into space to begin the second act of the album. The next six songs are delivered by Uzi’s second persona, Orenji, in which the out-of-this-world sonic atmosphere takes center stage. The Orenji act feels like a return to form of 2016-era Lil Uzi Vert who set the standard for melodic rap with hits such as “Money Longer,” “You Was Right” and “Do What I Want.”
“I’m Sorry” has the potential to be the radio hit of the album. While Uzi’s cadence is laid back, the production is contagious with melodies as bouncy as the synth-laden beat that surrounds Uzi’s crooning. The rest of the songs in the second act encapsulate a similar energy, some standouts being “Celebration Station,” a poppy banger where Uzi demonstrates multiple flows, and “Prices,” which touts the chorus, “I just went up in my price.” The line is bound to be used in countless Instagram captions.
The sound of rushing water at the end of “Prices” marks the beginning of the final act of “Eternal Atake.” The last six tracks are the sonic peak of the project, as Uzi returns to Earth to craft some of the best songs he’s ever recorded. “Urgency (feat. Syd)” exhibits the two artists gliding over silky-smooth production through space and time as the two reflect on the people they love most. “Venetia” features production a la Uzi’s 2016 mixtape “Lil Uzi Vert vs. The World” with compressed synths and jovial delivery on clever bars such as “Talk to the reverend, but I don’t know Ma$e,” referencing the East Coast rapper-turned-pastor.
Besides the two singles “Futsal Shuffle 2020” and “That Way,” the best song on the album is “P2,” the long-awaited sequel to Lil Uzi Vert’s defining song, “XO Tour Llif3.” “P2” takes the best elements of “XO Tour Llif3” and flips them on their head. While “XO Tour Llif3” saw Uzi grappling with and wondering how to deal with betrayal, “P2” shows Uzi finally accepting his heartache and moving on. Lines like, “She left me right on read now, I’m walkin’ with my head down,” and, “there’s no emotion on my face ‘cause I’m numb” are destined to be shouted from the mosh pits of Lil Uzi Vert concerts for years to come. Despite the morose lyrics, “P2” ends on a heartwarming moment — Uzi thanks his fans and tells them he appreciates them for allowing him “an experience of a lifetime.”
“Eternal Atake” isn’t without its lulls. “Secure The Bag” is one of the weaker moments of the album. It has an odd placement in the otherwise remarkable third act of the album and sounds like a throwaway release, along with being a minute too long. The production on “POP” is unusually barren given the spatial sounds of the rest of the album. Uzi delivers solid verses on the song, but the strange drum pattern makes Uzi sound off-beat when he increases the pace.
These lesser tracks from “Eternal Atake” aren’t enough to diminish the overall product in a significant way. “Eternal Atake” offers a mystical joyride into the mind of Lil Uzi Vert, and it’s a ride you’ll be begging to go on round after round.