Mumble rap is a vague term, most commonly used by ‘old-heads’ as a stick to beat the new school of rap artists with. Atlanta based Playboi Carti is one of the most prominent stars of the new school, and though he has been labelled mumble raps chief promoter, there is far more to the rapper than good beats and indecipherable lyrics.
Refreshingly invisible on social media, Carti has built an enigmatic image of himself. It took him two years to release his brilliant debut mixtape after it had been teased and promised continuously, and last Friday he released his debut album, Die Lit, with only a solitary Instagram post hours before its midnight release to serve as notice of its imminent arrival.
Whereas the self-titled Playboi Carti mixtape announced Carti’s arrival onto the scene, Die Lit looks to confirm his place at the top table of the genre. It certainly has the features to support this, with appearances from Young Thug, Nicki Minaj, Travis Scott and long-time collaborator Lil Uzi Vert.
Unlike the debut mixtape, Die Lit doesn’t have an anthemic lead hit to carry the album into the charts, 'Magnolia' became a smash hit and in the process raised Carti’s profile to dizzying heights. Without any pre-released material from the album, Carti has put his faith in a loyal fanbase and his position as a star.
Much like his debut mixtape, a first listen of the tape is slightly underwhelming, a second listen wins you over to some of the tracks, and a third listen has you won over. It’s nowhere near a perfect album and may be viewed as inferior to the mixtape, but its littered with great tracks and Pi’erre Bourne continues to develop into one of the best producers in the game.
Dreamy, emotive bubblegum trap sounds are commonplace, such as the melodic 'No Time' featuring fellow Atlanta rapper Gunna. While there is also room for the more bass-heavy trap sounds that resemble 'Magnolia'; 'Choppa Won’t Miss', for example, is a paean to short tempers and firearm accuracy.
The lowlights of the album are mostly limited to weak features, particularly those of Pi’erre Bourne’s, although the sheer volume of features means a number of them are also the tapes highlights. Nicki Minaj kept up her remarkable form since Cardi B threatened her position as Hip Hop’s queen, while Carti and Uzi reprised their incredible chemistry on standout track 'Shoota'.
This album is unlikely to win many awards, but it delivers a sound Carti is fast perfecting and no other artist can match.