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Lil Uzi Vert Hit a Rut. Then ‘Slayerr’ Happened

The TM88-produced, rock-leaning track is a return to form for the young superstar

FORT LAUDERDALE, FL - MAY 12:  Symere Woods known by his stage name Lil Uzi Vert performs during day three of Rolling Loud at Hard Rock Stadium on May 12, 2019 in Miami Gardens, FL.  (Photo by Jason Koerner/Getty Images)

Symere Woods known by his stage name Lil Uzi Vert performs during day three of Rolling Loud at Hard Rock Stadium on May 12, 2019 in Miami Gardens, FL.

Jason Koerner/Getty Images

For a brief moment it felt like Lil Uzi Vert had lost a step. Though you wouldn’t be able to tell from his enraptured fanbase, or the rap writers still reminiscing over his prolific 2016 assault, the Uzi that redefined the rockstar template with petulant, high energy odes to nihilism was receding. Label drama, management reorganization, and leaks all played their part in slowing the crown prince of rap’s ascent. In fairness, his collaborative efforts over the past year were a wide swath of melodies, adlibs and charisma his peers couldn’t contain, let alone compete with (I’m looking at you, Lil Baby, Young Thug, Playboi Carti). But when left to his own devices, Uzi’s solo material was often an uninspired graveyard of freestyled nonsense (“Free Uzi”), redundant subjects (“That’s A Rack”) and beats that carried the proceedings (“Sanguine Paradise”). The songs weren’t bad, but they lacked dynamism that defined the Philadelphia rapper.

That whole paragraph, about Uzi losing his way? We take it back. Part course-correction, part recalibration, “Slayerr” is Lil Uzi Vert, rejuvenated. Produced by TM88 and Bobby Raps and released on Friday, “Slayerr” is pure bombast; all reverb-drenched ad-libs crashing against wonky synths. “She’s in love with a rager / She’s a rockstar everybody said don’t date her,” screeches Uzi across the chorus, with a sincerity that should be applauded. The central conceit behind “Slayer” is goofy — there’s a bad girl, Uzi likes her and has a plethora of horny ways to describe their chemistry — but he sells it on charisma alone.

Uzi at the peak of his commercial power tends to channel rock — “XO TOUR Llif3,” “The Way Life Goes” — while imbuing it with a his winning sense of chaos. “Slayer” proves that the brightest future for Uzi sounds like what he’s already perfected.

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