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Playboi Carti

by Playboi Carti

Released April 14, 2017 via AWGE / Interscope Records

Reviewed April 21, 2022

Top tracks (based on community voting)
Location (66%), wokeuplikethis* (46%), New Choppa (39%)

It is a famous rapper meme to be wary of sharing release dates—from the recent Kanye West & Drake, Donda and CLB kerfuffle to the legendary battle between Ye and 50 Cent over The Massacre & Graduation. Playboi Carti’s self-titled debut shares a release date with Kendrick Lamar’s instant classic, DAMN. At the time, Carti was seen as a bastion of “mumble rap,” and Lamar’s opus washed it out of any real contention amongst ‘true’ hip-hop fans.

But in the five years since both releases, the sounds on Carti’s 15-song debut are incredibly prescient—spacious, elemental, and primarily about environment. Producers Pi’erre Bourne and Southside, among others, craft a sound that continues to reverberate around hip-hop. This is not an album for intense wordplay and storytelling like DAMN. Instead, Carti plays with verses notably on “Half & Half,” “Lame Niggaz,” and “wokeuplikethis*.” The album also is very danceable; “Magnolia” was one of the biggest club hits of 2017 and “wokeuplikethis*” is enough to make any group grab arms and rap each bar word for word. Carti followed this up with the seminal classic, Die Lit, in 2018 and critical slow burn, Whole Lotta Red, in 2020, pushing his sound into sparser and edgier territory. Carti remains his own north star, doing his best to stand out in a genre full of people trying their best to sound like him. – Jacques (8.5/10)

If nothing else, Playboi Carti could be one of my favorite beat tapes in recent memory. Surprisingly to some, Carti’s career thus far has been about as dynamic as it has been influential. With the explosion of “Magnolia” as a smash-hit single, this self-titled mixtape rose to platinum status and remains his most financially successful record yet. “Magnolia” is only one in a series of effective instrumentals that invite the listener into a remarkable atmosphere. It often feels Carti could rap in complete gibberish—sometimes he does—and the song can be better off for it. So, while it can appear Carti is lucking into some flashes of brilliance, he’s actively embracing the youthful, fashionable specs of his personality that make this tape what it is. At times it seems Carti does not quite know what to do with the excessive aura he brings to almost every song, something he would channel with better intention on later efforts. The Playboi Carti mixtape remains an icon for wearing “mumble rap” like a badge of creative liberty, reminding us of the “clout” era’s better qualities. – DeVán (8/10)

Pax: 8.5/10 | Jacques: 8.5/10 | Ben (Synth): 8/10 | Cam: 8/10

DeVán: 8/10 | Dominick: 8/10 | Jared: 8/10 | Alan: 7.5/10 | Daniel: 6.3/10


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