Fans were supposed to get Lil Uzi Vert’s Eternal Atake two years ago but, for a while, it seemed possible that the Philly native’s highly-anticipated sophomore studio album may never materialize. Since 2018, was publicly criticized by a suicide cult, leading to a change in the album artwork, and has had an ongoing dispute with his label Generation Now, who he accused of delaying the project’s release. (The label has denied this, referencing Uzi’s own anxieties as the reason for Eternal Atake setbacks.) Last year, the rapper even announced plans to retire. Luckily, he didn’t follow through with this. Rap has no-doubt been enhanced by Uzi’s presence. Even in the midst of his own mental health issues, few artists can spark immense joy the way he has by simply being himself and making space for others to do the same.
A week ago, without much prior warning, Uzi released a trailer for Eternal Atake. Directed by the rapper and Gibson Hazard, the “short film” is a two-minute visual that finds Uzi leaving his office job, dressed in a suit and tie, and following a set of coordinates to a field where he encounters a spaceship, still smoking from its fiery landing on Earth. Transforming into a version of himself that more aligns with his rapper/rockstar persona, Uzi approaches the ship, followed by a cult of women. In the final shot, he ascends into the hovering ship, his arms outstretched in an image that recalls religious imagery.
Baby Pluto’s spaceship finally crash-landed back on Earth last Friday (March 6), delivering a long-awaited experience that feels both grounded in this planet and like an hour-long manifesto from the leader of a new world. The timing of the release couldn’t be more perfect. On “You Better Move,” the interstellar cut that seems destined to TikTok virality, Uzi raps “I live my life like a cartoon. Reality is not my move.” In a period of increased anxiety and uncertainty when everyone seems to be holding their breath for the next tragedy, Eternal Atake offers a temporary reprieve.
The 18-track album kicks off with “Baby Pluto,” introducing the first of three personas that Uzi utilizes on the album. The section finds him aggressive and unrelenting. “Making money like a ni**a don’t need to drop,” he raps in rapid cadence on “Silly Watch,” outpacing the synth keys in the Supah Mario production. “Pop” finds Uzi pushing his Baby Pluto persona to the extreme, laying bare his trap and drill influences in the skittish verses before offering one of the album’s most effective hooks and a standout moment where he breathlessly repeats “Balenci” (as in Balenciaga) 15 times. He slows down long enough on “You Better Move” to make sure you can catch his wordplay. “Step on competition, changin’ my shoes/Green shirt, bi**h, I’m Steve, where is Blue?/Every chain on I pity a fool/I’m an iPod, man, you more like a Zoom.” We’ve seen glimpses of Uzi like this before, on songs such as Luv is Rage 2’s “For Real.” Still, on Eternal Atake he’s honed his rhymes and vocal delivery, stretching his voice to emphasize each punchline.
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Eternal Atake shifts sonically and tonally after the first six songs, making way for Uzi’s second persona, Renji, the emo counterpart to Baby Pluto. This section is more melodic and features more singing, making it a likely draw for the rapper’s pop-leaning fans.
Uzi’s range of emotions has garnered hits (“Xo Tour Lif3”) and inspired memes (“Do What I Want”) for years, gaining the attention of even the most casual fan. But, while the rapper’s joy is still infectious on this project (this is especially true on standout cut “Celebration Station”), turmoil seems to hit him differently now. The productions and melodies remain theatrical, but the emotions of it all aren’t as melodramatic, even on the Chief Keef-produced “Chrome Heart Tags.” Later in the album, in the final section, Uzi recycles the “Xo Tour Lif3” melody, reimagining it as the more optimistic but less potent “P2.” The end of the song feels like an encore speech to fans (“Thank you. No, really, thank you. You’re far too kind you, and you, and you. An experience of a lifetime). On “I’m Sorry,” the rapper apologizes for a failed relationship with a fan over a production that features a strikingly similar, albeit slower, version of the “Celebration Station” video-game-esque production. It’s easy to imagine the cult of women in Uzi’s short film singing the “oohs” in the background of the braggadocious “Bust Me” just before the abducted rapper escapes back home in the song’s interlude.
“Venetia,” the second song in the third and final portion of the album, starts off with the lines “Lil Uzi Vert, to be exact. And, I’m not from Earth, I’m from outer space.” There’s nothing novel about splitting an album into different personas. There’s also nothing unique about a rapper claiming to be from outer space. But, on Eternal Atake, Lil Uzi Vert makes a convincing case that if any rapper were to actually be abducted by aliens (or a cult of women) and come back converting traditional Earthly raps into a supernatural saga, it would be him.
Since the album’s release, Uzi has shared that there will be a deluxe version of Eternal Atake, although details remain scarce. The original release is set to debut at no. 1, making it the second album for the rapper to top the chart, and his most successful release to date.
It took two years, but Eternal Atake, easily Uzi’s best release so far, was well worth the wait. Here’s hoping the deluxe version enhances the various personas of Uzi, instead of diluting them.