Has mainstream rap officially reached its Hot Topic era? For evidence, look no further than Lil Uzi Vert’s hook on his recent track “XO Tour Llif3”:
I don’t really care if you cry
On the real you should have never lied
Should’ve saw the way she looked me in my eyes
She said baby I am not afraid to die
Push me to the edge
All my friends are dead
Surprisingly, these words weren’t penned by My Chemical Romance’s Gerard Way or Paramore’s Hayley Williams. They were written by Uzi, a former XXL Freshman who’s collaborated with everyone from Meek Mill to Young Thug. If you think the mood of “XO Tour Llif3” is pretty emo by hip-hop standards, you’re not alone. In a parody video shared on Twitter by the song’s producer, TM88, an actor playing Uzi’s engineer pauses while recording the hook to ask in a concerned tone, “Yo Uzi, you straight brother? There something you need to tell me man?”
It’s rare and difficult for rappers as popular as Uzi to bare their souls this much, but up to this point, the Philadelphia native has shown little fear of breaking the genre’s rules. He’ll wear Marilyn Manson shirts at shows, declare himself more of a rockstar than a rapper, and allow his shyness (and perhaps depression) to completely derail interviews.
However, all of this is vibrant individuality is definitely paying off for him. “XO Tour Llif3” has racked up over 16 million plays on Soundcloud since dropping two weeks ago, and a little over a week after the song’s release, an Instagram video revealed that a crowd in London already knew all of the words. Even Marilyn Manson himself commented on that very same video to voice his approval.
The song just received video treatment, but befitting Uzi’s nontraditional career, it’s not what you’d expect. All we get is one looped clip of a cartoon Uzi behind the wheel, steering into a colorful vortex while his blunt expels plumes of smoke into the ether.
“That’s it?”, you might ask. Like most of Uzi’s other moves though, it’s almost guaranteed to propel him into greater popularity: until now, “XO Tour Llif3” was only available as a Soundcloud loosie, but now that it’s officially on YouTube, it can be considered for the Billboard Hot 100, where it will almost certainly end up next week.
Lil Uzi Vert may confuse his elders, but to a generation of open-minded and open-hearted kids, he’s the world’s biggest rockstar and the world’s biggest rapper, all in one compact package.