Lil Uzi has had a meteoric rise that most rappers would dream of achieving, even though he is often criticized for his genre-bending style of rap.
Uzi has only been releasing records since 2014, but he has already landed collaborations with Wiz Khalifa, Future, Young Thug and Gucci Mane.
In a short amount of time, Lil Uzi Vert has scored an enormous following, while headlining big festivals like Made In America in September of 2016, when fans chased him through the crowd, or the more recent Rolling Loud Festival, where he dove from 20 feet, into a welcoming throng of followers.
The most interesting, and the controversial thing about Uzi so far, is that the North Philly rapper claims he is more of a rock star than anything else, which really isn’t new since groups like Run-DMC, The Beastie Boys, and even Public Enemy were doing that way back in the 1980’s.
So what is it about Lil Uzi that has makes him so special to a new generation of fans?
During an interview with the New York Times is “Popcast” with resident hip-hop expert John Caramanica, music critics Joe Coscarelli, a pop music reporter for The New York Times, and David Turner, who is a freelance writer for Rolling Stone and other publications, talked all things Uzi.
The trio dissected Lil Uzi’s career into pieces during their special “Uzicast,” to find the core ingredients that have gone the 22-year-old rapper’s success.
This is what the three music experts uncovered.
Lil Uzi is Not An Overnight Success
Lil Uzi signed with DJ Drama and Don Cannon’s Generation Now/Atlantic Records in 2015. The experienced DJ’s appear to have incubated Uzi for a little while, with early releases like the mixtape “The Real Uzi,” and songs like “Seven Million” with Future and “Yamborghini Dream” with Young Thug.
The North Philly rapper blasted into pop music’s consciousness with his appearance on Migos #1 song “Bad & Boujee,” in addition to the release of his own “Luv Is Rage 1.5” mixtape in February of 2017.
“Lil Uzi has been signed for years now. The trickling of his career has been a long road paved.” – David Turner to The New York Times’ “Popcast”
Lil Uzi Uses Social Media To Immerse Fans
Social media has played the greatest interest in Lil Uzi’s rise. According to Joe Coscarelli, platforms like Instagram, Snapchat and Twitter have allowed artists like Lil Uzi, Lil Yachty and Playboi Carti to flourish and establish extensive fan bases. The new wave of rappers’ careers are not based on being lyricists, they are instead characters, more than anything else.
“I think Lil Uzi comes up in this sort of micro group of young rappers that are really more characters and celebrities on social media then they are rappers.” – Music critic Joe Coscarelli.
“I’m talking about Lil Yachty, I’m talking about Playboi Carti,” Coscarelli continued. “These guys these are guys who are sort of in the mold of A$AP Rocky and Wiz Khalifa and to a lesser extent Young Thug. They are very fashion conscious, they have very defined aesthetics. Uzi has short dreads usually purple he’s usually wearing a rock T-shirt, Marilyn Manson, who he claims is his hero.”
Lil Uzi is really “World Building”
Joe Coscarelli says that Lil Uzi and his team have invented an immersive experience for the rap star’s fans. Weaving Lil Uzi’s real life experiences through a narrative played out on social media help establish unprecedented access and rapport with his 5 millions of fans across his social media platforms.
“What they’re doing is world building. For most of them, Carti Uzi probably more than anyone else, the music come second.” – Music Critic Joe Coscarelli
Mixing Genres of Music
According to Jon Caramanica, Lil Uzi is mashing up punk rock music EDM and hip-hop. The result produces extremely catchy hooks that are often built around a single word, phrase or even just a simple sound.
“He takes essentially trash parts, like waste-bin stuff, and stitches it together into something that roughly approximates rap, or not, and it works.” – “Popcast” host Jon Caramanica
Lil Uzi is Media Savvy
While some rappers like Drake and Jay Z seldom do interviews, Lil Uzi pretty much embraces the media, even though he has stated that he hates doing interviews, while giving an interview on Hot 97. Not only is Uzi enthusiastic and attentive during his interviews with inquiring writers, but Uzi also possesses a star quality which is allowing him to build successful relationships with journalists – one of the most important components of any musician’s career.
“It was very apparent that he was way more excited talking to me then I was to him.” – Music critic David Turner.
“Even in that instance he sounded more excited as he was hopping between a bus and a tour, he was still so attentive and ready to talk to me and I’ve interviewed a lot of rappers that’s not usually how it goes,” David Turner said.