As the internet constantly exposes audiences to new iterations of entertainment, rap has become a genre that evolves faster than most people can keep up with. Artists that fail to innovate are immediately abandoned by their ruthless audiences as they continue their determined, everlasting effort to discover the next exciting sound. Despite the skepticism that often surrounds his image and talent and a few mediocre new tracks, I believe Playboi Carti perfectly symbolizes hip-hop and rap within the age of social media.
From Atlanta, Georgia, and born on the exact day of Tupac’s death, Playboi Carti is twenty three years old and has risen to a status of legendary fame through a completely unique and unreplicated sound. Tracks are void of any violent, intense verses or hidden meanings about the truths of life. Instead, Carti’s music is about having fun with your friends, and the excitement you get when listening to new music. Whether Carti really does this purposefully or not, this is achieved through a very minimalist sound created by a flow of mostly mumbling. Often, aspects such as the pitch of Carti’s voice are altered to keep things sounding new. This simplicity therefore creates accessibility and is supported by simple lyrics that are usually just there to add the sound; the words themselves are irrelevant. It’s efficient, considering the real priority is just to have fun. The real secret lies in Carti’s genius production, specifically with the talent of master producer Pierre Borne.
Almost every great Playboi Carti song is driven by phenomenal production. Where Carti’s flow is simple and minimal, his production is the exact opposite, brimming with color. Each song is dangerously catchy, often featuring addictive, melodic hooks and a kinetic rhythm to fuel the excitement. While listening to songs such as “Long Time”, it’s difficult to resist the overwhelming sense of motion that arises. Other factors such as his Carti’s ridiculous ad-libs and the almost always stellar feature verses are definitely important to fill out the empty space, but Playboi Carti’s beats are his true glue. They transform simple trap songs into energetic and eccentric anthems capable of bringing all different types of people together and creating enormous amounts of excitement and hype.
However, what continues to propel Playboi Carti’s popularity is the recluse, mysterious image he’s created for himself. Over the past few years he’s been in the public spotlight, very little has been discovered about his life and personality, and it certainly doesn’t help his rare posts on social media are essentially written in hieroglyphics. He’s been slowly teasing his next full length album, Whole Lotta Red, however, songs have been leaking on a regular basis for an entire year at this point. Even though the songs are never officially released, songs like, “Molly”, “Cancun”, and “Skeleton” have managed to blow up in popularity, with the track, “Kid Cudi” even landing on the top charts on Spotify. This sparsity in content and information keeps the demand for new music incredibly high, especially compared to other rappers that seem to drop an album every couple of months.
Whether Playboi Carti is really rap is irrelevant at this point, he created an entirely new sound that separates himself from the rest of trap and created a hardcore community of fans ready to analyze his every move. Whether it was the avant garde artistic movements disrupting Europe post world war one or rock and roll continuing to shape punk culture in the late 1900’s, there will always be artists that will continue to push the boundaries of their respective mediums, no matter how often their work gets labeled as not real.
It’s often only after the dust settles a generation later that they are truly recognized for their contributions. “History repeats itself. So you might wanna pay attention.” – Quavo.