Mobb Deen found it in his socks.
Last year, I was entrusted with the grand responsibility of explaining why Playboi Carti’s “Magnolia” was one of the songs of the year, according to Passion of the Weiss’ esteemed brain trust (and everyone else too, if we’re keeping it a buck). If I recall correctly—I made a point of not re-reading that entry because I’d really be trying too hard given the topic at hand—I managed to scribble 250 words about how the point of “Magnolia” was that there was no point. That claim remains true and I’m not naïve enough to have expected anything new from Carti, but there was a tiny part of me that was hoping he’d demonstrate something—anything—resembling “artistic growth.”
Well, fuck me sideways and call me ‘Shirley’ because this vapid muthafucka just stuck to his formula—which I suppose is growth in its own perverse way—not fucking up good shit has to count as growth in 2018. He still utilizes the same fantastically minimal production under the same tossed off non-thoughts for an hour with the occasional excellent guest spot to deliver listeners from monotony.
And guess what? I had fun listening to Die Lit, just like I did with his self-titled debut last year. I can’t place a finger on exactly why Playboi Carti’s approach works, but once again, trying to decipher the point of this man’s existence is kinda counterproductive. He’s some sorta Seinfeldian ‘the point is no point’ rap hologram and I can’t say I’m mad.
This muthafucka has basically mastered ‘zero calorie rap.’ Tons of rappers have been accused of making “disposable” music or music that doesn’t “stick to the ribs,” but Playboi Carti has perfected this nonsense because it works! It worked twice across two entire projects and that’s coming from someone that definitely isn’t in what I imagine his target demo.
The typical Playboi Carti song starts with an inventive trap-adjacent beat of some sort, usually via Pierre Bourne, then Carti mumbles a whole buncha fuck all, then some of those mumbles approximate a hook because he repeats them a buncha times, then there might be a guest that’s ALWAYS more memorable, then he mumbles that shit again. Then it’s an hour later and the tape is over and Carti just bought his momma a house. As I write this piece, I literally remember nothing aside from some yelps and the fact that I’m pretty sure I enjoyed myself.
One of the more consistent complaints we’ve gotten about rap over the last decade and a half or so is that there’s no diversity in the genre. You’d have to be intellectually dishonest to hear what this guy is doing and say it sounds anything like any of the other folks that get airplay and prime streaming playlist spots in 2018. He ain’t saying shit but by not saying shit he’s saying something different and that’s enough for entire swaths of the population. In times like this (No Foo Fighters), I can see the appeal of what he’s doing. It’s bad enough that we’re enduring this nightmare so why add to your stress by leaving zero calorie bars out of your musical diet? Drop those pounds, my friends.