Playboi Carti – Die Lit, Album Review
After a year in the wilderness, Playboi Carti returns with an exciting debut album
Since the release of his self-titled mixtape in April 2017, fans of charismatic rapper Playboi Carti have been wondering what direction the so-called ‘Soundcloud rapper’ was going to take his sound. Snippets, leaks and the notable (yet expected) silence of the artist himself are all a part of the Playboi Carti experience
‘Die Lit’ presents a new and interesting direction for Carti’s music, and is undoubtedly his most polished work to date. The video-game inspired beats of the mixtape has been replaced by a more diverse group of sounds, from bouncy ballads such as ‘Right Now’ to the synth-heavy ‘Love Hurts’ and ‘Pull Up’.
Carti has again tapped Pi’erre Bourne to head production, with the beatmaker laying down 15 of the album’s 19 tracks. Oft-criticised for repetitive or uninteresting sounds, Pi’erre uses the album as a chance to silence his detractors, showcasing his versatility and undeniable talent to craft production no one else in the industry can.
In truth, he is just as responsible for the album’s quality as Carti himself. ‘Old Money’ demonstrates the chemistry of the pair, with Pi’erre’s signature flutes floated on by Carti, who brings his trademark confidence to the track; “Damn I feel myself!” ‘Foreign’ is similar in its up-beat vibe, with Carti asserting his place in the rap game; “Empty your pockets and pay a lil homage”. Songs such as these provide the hard cuts fans have come to know and expect. ‘R.I.P’ may be their finest effort to date and is a clear standout. An aggressive baseline is matched by Carti’s vigorous delivery. “Fuck that mumbling shit / Made a mil off that mumbling shit” he spits, calling out his critics whilst laying down two substantial verses.
Pi’erre also provides the production for some more subdued moments on the album. ‘Home’ is a standout among these; a melancholy banger detailing Carti’s experiences with an unknown women. It is almost hypnotic in nature, with a simple and repetitive hook skating over the eerie production. ‘Middle of the Summer’ is an effective interlude for the album, with the mesmerising beat of mixtape hit ‘Let It Go’ sampled and distorted. Carti’s rapid fire hook is matched well by up-and-coming female rapper Red Coldhearted, whose feature is a compelling change of pace for the album.
Die Lit is sprinkled with placements from other producers, and they provide some of the best moments the album has to offer. The Maaly Raw produced ‘Shoota’ is another exceptional collaboration between Carti and Lil Uzi Vert. The track begins with a simple piano and Uzi’s crooning, before exploding into its melody as Carti enters the fray with infectious swagger; “Woke up with my toolie, what it do / Meet me in the alley with the troops”. It serves as another teaser to the long-awaited collaborative album between the two, ‘16*29’
Perhaps the most interesting track on the album is its first track, ‘Long Time’. It comes from an unlikely source, produced by artist and creative consultant Art Dealer. ‘Long Time’ introduces the project in an understated yet atmospheric way, with a distorted synthesiser and slower than usual tempo matched by Carti’s softer delivery. Although not known for his lyricism, Carti can drop some meaningful lines, and his statement; “I’d rather die before I come in last” is an apt way to describe his confident and care-free aesthetic.
The album is not without its missteps. ‘FlatBed Freestyle’ sees Carti use a voice that is quite frankly uncomfortable to listen to over a forgettable Pi’erre beat. ‘Fell In Luv’ is a clear attempt for a chart hit that falls flat, made worse by a Bryson Tiller feature that is both out of place and lacking in quality.
Playboi Carti has come a long way from his Soundcloud days. The likes of MexikoDro and Ethereal are nowhere to be seen, although the latter has hinted at future collaborations to come. Instead, Pi’erre Bourne takes control in driving Carti towards a more polished and diverse sound. For the most part this is done with great success, and long-time fans will be more than satisfied with what is on offer. Others will still yearn to hear the famous ‘Plug!’ tag just one more time. Regardless, Die Lit shows that Carti is ready to be taken more seriously as an artist in the mainstream. It will be interesting to see what comes next.
Favourite Tracks: Long Time, RIP, Old Money, Shoota, Home, Foreign, Pull Up
Least Favourite Tracks: Fell in Luv, FlatBed Freestyle