The road to Eternal Atake has been long, 27 months to be exact. The surrounding circumstances might not even be believable in a fictional screenplay. In a new generation of outward, loud, and strange superstars, Uzi jumped on the scene in the mid 2010s with a sound that was influenced by trap and an aesthetic that aligned him with artists like Marilyn Manson and Disturbed, something of a satanic sibling to the psychedelics of Travis Scott.
In what seemed like ages ago fresh off the acclaim and exposure of Luv is Rage 2, he beefed with his label, fought a taunting Rich the Kid outside a Starbucks, was threatened by surviving members of a religious cult, which culminated into him retiring and allegedly deleting all of his recordings.
He came back almost instantly and after multiple attempts to independently drop new songs on streaming platforms they were removed from streaming platforms supposedly by DJ Drama and Don Cannon. It seemed that the new Uzi album would never see the light of day until he escaped label slavery by signing with Roc Nation.
Then in the span of one week, Uzi posted a video announcing a two week deadline, shares “That Way”, and releases Eternal Atake the following Friday without warning. If you were a fan of his, it would be hard to not be dumbfounded and with a two year time stamp from announcement to eventual release, expectations were sky high. But was it rushed?
Off the bat, this thing is mixed terribly, matching major label anticipation with ghetto mixtape delivery and while adds a sort of no nonsense character, is a flaccid deflation from the high quality phonics of contemporaries like Migos or DaBaby. Whether due to copyright fumbles or creative decisions there are almost no features save for an appearance by The Internet’s Syd, forcing Uzi to carry over an hour of music by himself.
But criticisms against adherence to conformity and follow through on promise seemingly miss the point, because this is trap music and while Eternal Atake is far from pushing the genre forward a la London Calling, at times it delivers on aggression rationalized by emotion. But let’s get real here, Uzi isn’t batting 1000 whether you spin his unconventional flows as intentional or careless.
On “Lo Mein”, “Pop”, and elsewhere, he can barely keep time and his pronunciation of Comme Des Garcons had me googling lyrics. “Silly Watch” may have the wordiest chorus known to man and Uzi refuses to change the rhyme scheme for the entirety of the song. This is the guy who wrote the brilliant “XO Tour Lif3”, maybe the most important track to broaden the pop sensibilities of trap without compromising its edge and for a lot of Eternal Atake these choruses aren’t hooks, but just verses that receive repetition. There seems to be a confidence that Uzi could put anything out and still impress people the hype kids.
Most of the performances were definitely first takes and the monotony of the album from its content to its lack of sonic diversity makes the album at times an exhausting listen.
Eternal Atake has been billed as an ambitious concept album in three parts with Uzi taking on a different persona and sound for each act. There’s the heavy trap Baby Pluto, the melodic Renji, and get this Lil Uzi Vert, some kind of hybrid of the formers. Somewhere buried here is a space theme with Uzi taking off in the first half and exploring space in the second, but that doesn’t come to fruition. For a concept album it lacks cohesion and…concept. the trichotomy lacks direction and doesn’t work as a three act structure either. Most would have a difficult time drawing to lyrical references that support the theme of space exploration beyond title with most tracks tackling money, cars, drugs, and women. It’s dramatic one moment and unrelenting the next. Where an interpolation of Backstreet Boys can sit opposite a sample from Full Tilt Pinball off Windows XP
Though at over an hour running time, of spontaneous nature it would be shocking if Uzi was incapable of churning out a few evocative slappers. “You Better Move” is a highlight, vicious. sampling Space Cadet Pinball ya, the Windows XP game for those who lost internet and a portrait of a time before Uzi had internet. We get “I’m Sorry”, a pretty profound if not great record that boasts a marriage of trap pop arrangement and vocal melody. Still, on what is delivered at 18 tracks and over an hour, it’s way too long and though he’s yet to prove himself as an album artist, Eternal Atake is highly flawed.
Unfortunately it’s also demonized by its circumstances. Two years, 700 completed demos a year, six a day at its peak with some producers offering close to 300 instrumentals should have resulted in a higher standard especially in an era where productivity is everything. Lil Baby, who beat Eternal Atake to the top billboard seat, has put out two albums and five mixtapes since Uzi’s previous release. And even on its own the reporting of labour that went into the project only raises expectations
Not to mention the promotional run is out of sync with the subject matter, with pictures and a high budget two minute promotional clip either paralleling his loyal fanbase or lampooning the UFO obsessed cult, Heaven’s Gate famous for ritual suicides. The album has no mention of this directly or thematically.
a few choice quotes:
“Haven’t had sex in so long I’d do it in a Honda Accord”
“I’m too litty, bitch like Chinese kitty”
“Diamond water, yeah, it look like a river / Look like I’m standing in the Nile”
“I don't know why that girl so rude / Oh, that's 'cause her jeans, they from Rhude”
“Green shirt bitch I’m Steve, where is Blue?”
“Hickory, dickory, dock. VVS all in my clock. Get money like Anthony Hop. Silence the lamb and your ass’ll get chopped.”