EDIT: SHAWN CEE CALLED THIS WEBSITE A CESSPOOL LETS GOOOO
Phew… this is my fourth attempt at this. I can now say with certainty that this album is one of the year’s most polarizing albums. Yes, I’ve rewritten this review 4 times now; first time was a meme review, second was a half-assed review I wrote at 3 AM, third was what I thought would be my final statement of the album where I gave it a 50… well, you all know how that went since we are now here. Listen, if you don’t enjoy this album, give it another try. Trust me, you most likely won’t regret it. I’ve listened to Whole Lotta Red around 7-8 times now, and I feel like I can finally give a concrete opinion on the album.
Going into this, I didn’t expect Die Lit 2 and I think anyone who paid attention to the promotional rollout of this album and expected Die Lit 2 is stupid. There were so many red herrings that this was going to be vastly different from everything Carti had done prior; the Kanye West co-production, Carti’s cryptic Tweets, and Carti straight up describing the album as “alternative” and “psyched-out” just to name a few. I’m astonished at how many people were expecting an album in the vein of Die Lit, and I, for one, was completely opened to a new direction.
So here we are, a tumultuous wait behind us, and Whole Lotta Red is finally in our hands. Now, what exactly is Whole Lotta Red? Well, it’s a lot to say the least...
The punk influences across this album are clear as day, and Carti completely nails that style. Across Whole Lotta Red, Carti is completely unhinged. He comes through with some of his wildest and most batshit crazy vocal inflections he’s ever come up with. As a vocalist, he honestly reminds me of Young Thug with how animated and hyper he sounds. The production is just as crazy as Carti, containing some of the loudest and most banging production that has landed on any mainstream trap project to date, let alone a Playboi Carti project. Whole Lotta Red is at its best when Carti is spazzing out over thunderous and ferocious production, tracks such as Stop Breathing, New Tank, and On That Time just to name a few. While the rough mixing may repel some people and make the album feel rushed, it seems like the rough nature was intentional. How blown-out the instrumentals are and how raucous Carti delivery over them only amplifies the album's rowdy vehemence, and how hard the album fuckin bangs. I will admit that there are a few moments here at which Carti lays down an annoying melody or his unhingedness can be a bit of a double-edged sword, i.e. JumpOutTheHouse, but those songs are severely outnumbered by some of Carti’s most aggressive and savage tracks to date, songs that remind me of the days where fun yet rough around the edges Soundcloud anthems were erupting in popularity.
I do think the album does fall off a bit towards its final leg. Everything past track King Vamp just sounded like Die Lit B-Sides to my ears. They have the same relaxing and wavy feel that Die Lit’s songs have and they are ultimately decent songs, however, they just feel hamfisted at the end of this album. I feel as if Carti should have gone all out if he was truly pursuing this newfound sound, and these tracks squashed at the album’s backend are ruining the album’s aesthetic cohesion. There were some tracks in a similar vein of these songs in the first half, but they felt like somewhat interludish moments to segue one vicious banger into another. Still, seven out-of-place songs can’t ruin what was already a great album prior, and as I mentioned before, the songs aren’t bad by any means, so I can’t entirely fault the album.
To close this review off, I must say that I can’t help but draw parallels to Kanye West's Yeezus. Not from a musical standpoint, not at all, but rather where it sits from a reception standpoint in the artist's discography. Carti makes an album that will puzzle fans and critics for a while as Yeezus did for its initial years of release, dividing them completely as to whether it's good or not. Will it be beloved by fans in critics in 5 years like Yeezus is? Who fucking knows, because I sure don’t. All I’m saying is that if you don’t like this album or think it’s middle of the road on your initial listen, give it another chance as I believe Carti is putting out some of his most forward-thinking and aggressive material on this album, even if it isn’t as euphoric and blissful as Die Lit.
Favorite Tracks: Rockstar Made, Go2DaMoon, Stop Breathing, Beno!, M3tamorphosis, Slay3r, No Sl33p, New Tank, Teen X, Meh, Vamp Anthem, New N3on, Control, On That Time, King Vamp, Place, Not PLaying
Worst Track: Punk Monk