Published Jan. 13, 2021
By ANDREW WANG
Playboi Carti’s highly anticipated third album, “Whole Lotta Red,” contains some of the best and worst trap songs of the past year, failing to stay cohesive as a project.
It’s worth noting that Kanye West, as executive producer of the project, leads a star-studded team of past Carti collaborators such as Pi’erre Bourne, Maaly Raw and Don Cannon. Thus, the production quality remains strong throughout the entirety of “Whole Lotta Red.”
It kicks off with “Rockstar Made,” a filthy sounding beat that gives you an intense 10-second dopamine rush that hypes you up for all the excitement you won’t be getting. The rest of the song is equally harsh and ridiculously repetitive — and it certainly isn’t the good kind of repetition.
Cuts like “Stop Breathing” and “JumpOutTheHouse” continue the trend of harsh songs with heavy drums and bass, a style that Carti has found success in with tracks like “R.I.P.” from his previous album, “Die Lit.” Unfortunately for listeners, neither of these tracks are “R.I.P.” “Stop Breathing” slowly gets worse as the song progresses and “JumpOutTheHouse” repeats the song’s title over and over for an uninteresting hook.
Most of the tracks on the first half of the album range from forgettable to pretty awful. The most notable exception to the rule is “Slay3r,” a delightful number that shows Carti relinquishing the raspy voice used in earlier tracks coupled with a bouncy beat and an addicting rhythm. It’s possibly the best on the album. Kid Cudi’s verse and signature hums on “M3tamorphosis” are another high point, somewhat saving the five-minute song from Carti’s mediocre performance.
The quality of the album significantly increases by the 12th track onward. Carti has largely abandoned trying to make his raspy voice work, something that he spent much of the first half of the project attempting. “Vamp Anthem” offers a departure from the rest of the tracklist with its organ chords. “New N3on,” “Control” and “ILoveUIHateU” are all strong songs with synth-heavy production and enjoyable Carti moments.
The best track of this part of the album is “Sky,” which beautifully blends video-game-sounding synths with deep 808s. Carti’s rapping meshes incredibly well with the beat, creating a cohesive trap song that does exactly what it’s supposed to. Also, when he says “I could fall out the sky and I still won’t feel nothing” on the chorus, it’s truly sonically pleasing.
“Die4Guy,” a song where Carti honors the reckless lifestyle of his late brother, contains one of the top beats of the entire project, infusing a rock-inspired guitar loop with trap 808s and the like. That being said, its quality is somewhat marred by subpar rapping and some strange vocal inflections. “Whole Lotta Red” finishes with “F33l Lik3 Dyin,” a cut that has a gorgeous soul vocal sample and a Carti performance that holds its own.
This project’s tracklist has a huge range in quality. The production is top-notch for most songs, but Carti fills the hour and three minute runtime with many cringe-inducing moments and ineffective raspy voices.