Wednesday, May 3rd, 2017

Lil Uzi Vert – XO Tour Llif3

Straight off a No. 1 and/or a meme, if there’s a difference…


Will Rivitz: Lil Uzi Vert’s music typically doesn’t have too much emotional depth: his flat delivery, repetitive flow, and often fairly generic lyrics land with about the sticking power of old porridge. “XO Tour Llif3” is not like that; “XO Tour Llif3” is devastating. It is at once dead-eyed, manic, caustic and terrified, its nihilistic lyrics striking repeated blows to the solar plexus through the oppressive haze of a beat from which you can almost physically smell weed smoke. It delivers the opening line “I don’t really care if you cry” with the disinterest and impersonality of a mail clerk calling forward the next customer in line, and maintains that dreariness until the sudden crescendo of “She say I’m insane, yeah! I might blow my brain, yeah! Xanny help the pain, yeah! Please, Xanny make it go away!” Lil Uzi Vert embodies his chorus’ mantra of “push me to the edge,” but it’s clear Uzi isn’t just being pushed to the edge here; he’s been there for so long that the edge has started to corrode. The song is rusted, dulled, just enough sharp bits left to hurt but not enough nerves left to completely feel the pain. It might have been beautiful once, but that beauty is gone now, forever irretrievable; and just as a withered, broken structure exudes a desolate kind of perfection, so does this song.

Will Adams: I’ve become so drawn to sparse, lo-fi synthwork over the past year that “XO Tour Llif3” had me from the start. Like my linked example, TM88’s production is at once playful and forlorn, making it the proper foundation for Lil Uzi Vert’s (often difficult to listen to) narrative of a fraught relationship.

Iain Mew: It’s too slippery to perfectly stick, but even the most flattened-out version still sets up its own world for its duration. Be it the just-too-emphasised chill or the whirlwind of emotion it gives way to, it’s an intense experience.

Thomas Inskeep: TM88 has largely built a discography of producing southern rappers I don’t much care for, but I love the simplicity of this beat for Uzi, which allows Uzi room to do whatever he wants, and when Uzi does whatever Uzi wants, he’s at his best. And here, he sounds like the future.

Micha Cavaseno: “Harambe” with the Wile E. Coyote moment of the ground falling out from the floor beneath someone. Part of “XO Tour Llif3” succeeding is the incredible work of producer TM88, one of the earliest people to recognize Lil Uzi’s talents and boost him to a higher platform. While many rap enthusiasts fawn nowadays over basic melodic drives by the likes of Mike Will or Metro Boomin’s fondness for sample chops, TM has mined a specific vein of time-processed minor-key effects that place him closer to DJ Paul or Todd Edwards or a Goldie. On the other hand, Lil Uzi Vert is one of the few artists in 2017 still caught up in sensorial overload and emotional overwhelm. Depression doesn’t subside and ebb into a melancholy foam for him, but instead bubbles and gurgles into the ugliest cries you can hear on radio currently. Vocally, Lil Uzi Vert car-crashes from nasal bellows of histrionic self-loathing before cresting downward into ego-salve(age). A chorus that many have mistaken for his own words, “XO Tour Llif3” is hilariously inadequate a tribute for The Weeknd’s patronage, because whereas Abel has always solipsistically wallowed in his own joyless muck, here *Metta World Peace vox* “Luzivert” is the sound of someone obsessively recounting the moment of rejection and refusing to cope with it. 

Crystal Leww: The incomprehensibility of that last “All my friends are dead!” in the second chorus is a pretty perfect encapsulation of how this is a pretty perfect song though — this is pure emotion. Already, I have screamed along to that chorus to this on dance floors with my friends (ironic, I’m aware). This is just emo music for the Soundcloud generation.

Megan Harrington: This is an uncomfortable listen, one that should force every reviewer here to confront the threshold for misery porn. The point of creating a song like “XO Tour Llif3” isn’t what it provides the listener. It isn’t about whether or not I felt an authentic sense of empathy or whether Lil Uzi Vert communicated real pain. Instead it’s a cathartic act, not an unburdening but an unpacking, finding a place to home these thoughts. It’s a weird thing to assign a numerical value. 

Hannah Jocelyn: All the darkness of modern rap I tried to hear in Migos and nearly did in Future’s “Mask Off” finally reaches the surface, from Lil Uzi Vert, of all people. Maybe it’s because I didn’t expect it from Mr. Ya, Ya, Ya, and hadn’t yet discovered how diverse he can be, but the level of genuine darkness goes beyond edgy hedonism like tourmate the Weeknd. This sounds like real pain, and that’s because it’s a real situation — I know people that have been through similarly self-destructive relationships, and a former close friendship of my own once nearly approached the depths of Symere Woods and Brittany. There’s one especially heart-demolishing moment at 1:50, where he can’t even say the line “all my friends are dead” and it devolves into anguish. That intensity was almost lost, though; a remastered and rerecorded version was initially uploaded to Spotify and other services that took away nearly all the grit from the original SoundCloud upload, to the point where “all my friends are dead” sounded as meaningless a tagline as “I got broads in Atlanta.” Fans complained, and the original, messier vocals with that moment were restored, to the song’s benefit. The vocal take is integral to the song’s success; even if the short-term commercial success is due to a meaningless challenge meme, Lil Uzi Vert’s performance is why it will stick around long after the craze evaporates. 

Reader average: [8.06] (32 votes)

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6 Responses to “Lil Uzi Vert – XO Tour Llif3”

  1. I felt like this song was predicated by that interview he did with Fader where he seemed at turns despondent, angsty (I think he locked himself in his room alone and blasted his own music for a while), and outright depressed.

  2. whoa, that is a SCORE

  3. brilliant blurbs all around, but Megan’s really nails the reason why my score wavered so much

  4. who would have guessed Lil Uzi Vert of all people would be the Jukebox favorite of 2017

  5. Love this song and love what Rivitz wrote.

  6. :)