Though time seems to move ridiculously quickly in the modern music world, especially in regards to the all-too-progressive avenues of hip-hop and pop, landmark moments within the most recent eras of this particular artform are seemingly making themselves more and more apparent as the days, months, and even years move forward. The place our landscape stands at now is one that was meticulously built through constant trials and moments that eventually came to define both periods of the far off past, and periods of the present as they are.
At least in regards to the current state of hip-hop, no other concept has been quite as influential as the rise of the modern-day approach to online-centric music in the 2010s. Though this decade has come and gone in such a swift and almost-immediate fashion, its lasting legacy is one that will certainly be regarded as beyond influential moving towards the future; some 20 years from now, the ideas, concepts, and collective mindsets that were developed over this period of time will be regarded as one of the most integral eras in the history of music, and that is said with no hyperbole whatsoever.
But with integral periods comes integral items and/or moments, and in the process of pinpointing where these things lie within that aforementioned period, it becomes ever-so-obvious that the first thing to always look for is the definite “catalysts” of that period. And in regarding the state of online music as it stands today, perhaps no other artist stands out more vividly in this exact light than Lil Uzi Vert, and in saying this, no other project can truly lay claim to the title of “catalyst” more than 2015’s Luv Is Rage.
Released during what could only be described as a prelude period before the upcoming rise and surge towards the top of the music world as Uzi and his fellow contemporaries would undertake in the coming year, this project served as something of a statement piece for what was at the time a scene on the cusp of history.
In knowing his, Luv Is Rage was not an attempt at immortalization. It certainly was not trying to define an era in any sense of the term, even despite how grand the project sounds on its own, and the pure quality of music that came with it. Rather, this project was essentially Uzi’s way of setting the mark for what practically everyone at the time knew would be an iconic and simply unmatched future. But in drawing back on that aforementioned idea of “quality” here, Uzi’s content throughout this project just so happens to stand even among the best offerings in his now-substantial body of work, even despite the early and naïve nature that this album represents.
Perhaps this just means that an album’s influence should stand separate from the quality of the music from a purely judgmental standpoint. If that is truly the case, then Luv Is Rage certainly stands as a shining example of that notion on full display. Most of the tracks here do indeed represent something of a renaissance in hip-hop history, but plenty of other projects were doing the exact same thing at the time of this album’s release -- such as other classics of that year like Young Thug’s Barter 6 and Travis Scott’s Rodeo.
But just because the scene was indeed saturated with pure and utter influence from all angles does not mean that what is given to us on Luv Is Rage is anything less than brilliant. There are plenty of iconic, resounding, and blatantly incredible tracks here that cement this album’s legacy in the unprecedented area that it now finds itself in.
Tracks like “Safe House,” 7AM,” and “Yamborghini Dream” have become everlasting in the eyes of astute hip-hop listeners of the modern-age for quite obvious reasons. These tracks displayed Uzi’s natural and effortless approach to hitmaking, appeal, and general musical entertainment in a manner that has been replicated by many since then, but only perfected by he himself.
And though those now-standard offerings make their presence known above all else in taking in this album, that should not discount the sonic risks that Uzi was willing to take on a number of other moments within the tracklisting here -- all of them paying off in stride due to how simply in-his-own-lane Uzi was at this point in his career.
The raucous paring of “Banned From TV” and “Super Saiyan” certainly stick out in this light, but perhaps no other track proves that sentiment as such more than the album’s conclusive final breath in “Paradise” -- where Uzi subverts any and all given expectations - even those dictated by this album alone - to try his hand at a synthwave offering, which truly ended up paying off due to the song’s addictive and incredibly memorable refrain and overall stature.
Again, Luv Is Rage is not an album to bring up when discussing anything close to “paradigm shifts” in the modern hip-hop landscape. But what it does represent is an individual at the forefront of success and acclaim, and one that put all of that built-up energy into one project that still stands out on its own as an incredibly iconic and quality-filled offering some 5 long years later. Usually, moments like these are seen as stepping stones for now-acclaimed acts to reach the status that they currently hold, but being the ultimate opportunist that he was and still is, Uzi hit it out of the part extremely early here, and should be recognized as doing so far more than he already is.