It is hard to pick a defining moment where Playboi Carti was able to infiltrate the hearts of millions through his bombastic and energetic style that mixed with a pretty boy personality. Through his 2018 release Die Lit, his repetition on verses, the lightening production pieces, and the introspective view are both stunning and full of vitality.
As he begins on “Long Time – Intro”, Carti is a personal voice recording that describes, “No cap and gown I ain’t go to class, I’d rather die before I come in last… Just to felt like this it took a long time, just to look like this it took a long time.” It may sound cliché, but for some reason, the emotional attachment that he displays through the verse is approachable and almost sentimental. Carti sculpts to illustrate these tears of joy that overcame incredible turmoil over and over again through the framework of Die Lit. When he moves between the skrrting mobility of “R.I.P” to the dramatic styling’s of “Shoota” with Lil Uzi Vert, Die Lit is a new experience at each leap and roll.
With little in the way of boundaries in his style, Carti recruits London based Skepta as a bi-coastal tag-team on “Lean 4 Real” that can bounce between verses. As Carti begins the chorus with this baby-esque style describing, “That bag loaded bih, got it all the time. Nickelodeon, way I got that slime.” To have this dichotomy within his voice that seems to consistently shift behind inflection creates new looks to the way that the production works with the vocals. “Lean 4 Real” then contrasts the work of “FlatBed Freestyle” where Carti uses this baby voice as the main component to the track. Even as comedic it might seem at first glance, this performance becomes addictive and almost this dependency on his voice to survive.
Die Lit is the best representation of Carti as he balances rhyming through creative and clever wordplay techniques, then referencing the instrumental to fill the gaps where his vocals become the background. Even as the final moments of Die Lit where “R.I.P. Fredo” stands out for one last punch to the gut or stage dive hits the scene. It is this mosh inducing push toward a team-up with Young Nudy as the two begin this slime season of trading verses and hooks. The instrumentation consists of this bouncing 808 and tapping hi-hat that does more movement than rattling, keeping the space open and ready for anything that Cardi is going to throw onto it.
After 19-tracks and nearly an hour of new-aged hip-hop, Die Lit becomes this legendary next step after the self-titled work of Playboi Carti. His music has this unique factor that no doubt reflects the inner agility of young artists with the tenacity and arsenal of 808 drums to fund a war team.