Whole Lotta Red: Playboi Carti at his most experimental

A Christmas gift to his fans, Playboi Carti delivered the much-awaited Whole Lotta Red. Executively produced by Kanye West, the 25-track, hour long EP boasts vampy, experimental beats to accompany Carti’s infamous baby voice and his almost undecipherable ‘cartinese’. 

With a cult-like fanbase under his belt despite only two previous official albums, Playboi Carti’s promise to deliver excellence on his third EP to his fans was highly anticipated – the hype was heightened by weeks of missed release dates and endless snippet teasing on Twitter.

Opening with ‘Rockstar Made’, the tone for the album is set – aggressive, violent and undeniably manic. Despite the initial hype built in the song, its repetitive chanting of ‘never too much’ 40 times becomes tired and lags behind. However, the album is lifted back up on the next track ‘Go2DaMoon’, which sees a Kanye West verse stealing the show. 

Playboi Carti ft. Kanye West – Go2DaMoon (Official Audio) via Playboi Carti on YouTube.

Though momentum slowly builds through mosh-pit, rager tunes like ‘Stop Breathing’ and ‘M3tamorphosis’ (featuring legendary Kid Cudi hums), the album lags in its middle section. Carti fails to maintain the punk, high-energy atmosphere, leaving songs like ‘Teen X’ and ‘Meh’ feeling repetitive, drab and tired. Though a typical Playboi Carti album is not famed for its lyricism but rather its beats, these songs are almost unbearable: ‘Meh’ makes you endure Carti whining over a weak, mismatched beat. 

However, towards the end of the album, there is a glimmer of hope for us Carti fans hoping for something slightly resembling the ‘old’ sound. ‘New N3on’, a previously leaked song, makes a surprise appearance, restoring faith. This paired with Pi’erre Bourne produced ‘Place’, ‘ILoveYouIHateYou’ and Art Dealer guest spots on ‘Sky’ and ‘Over’ is reminiscent of Carti’s second album Die Lit – closing the album with nostalgia that we crave after enduring numerous misses on the album. 

Filled with highs and lows, Whole Lotta Red is a polarising album. Though the second half seems to make up for the disappointing run of tracks in its first half, Playboi Carti could have delivered a much more conceptual, sequenced body of work – especially since fans have been waiting for weeks on end. Despite this, Whole Lotta Red is not bad by all means. Carti is at his most experimental sonically, pushing the boundaries of mainstream, standard rap that occupies the charts.

Header image: Playboi Carti. Credit: Scott Dudelson/Getty Images, via NME.