Review: Playboi Carti, ‘Die Lit’

Carti extends his rudimentary formula to deliver a consistent album, but lacks standout hits.

Playboi Carti firmly established himself as a mumbling force to be reckoned with. He had a successful 2017 with his self-titled mixtape and viral hit “Magnolia”. The mixtape was a defining statement of what Playboi Carti’s music is all about – sugary, mindless trap tunes. You wouldn’t thought it would be possible to simplify the trap sound even more than it already is, but somehow Carti manages to do so. He is arguably the most straightforward SoundCloud artists of the lot, which oddly works to his benefit. Out of all his contemporaries, Playboi Carti’s approach to ‘mumble rap’ is the most sweet and summery.

For his debut album, Carti reaches new levels of simplicity. It’s not hard to dislike Die Lit; it checks all the boxes you’d expect, but tones down the simplicity even more, letting the production and mind-numbing hooks do all the work.

The strengths of Die Lit lies in the works of Pi’erre Bourne, who provides the zany, circus-themed sound across Die Lit that gives Carti his musical identity. The beats are sometimes odd (“R.I.P.”, “R.I.P. Fredo”) or right in line with “Magnolia” (“Choppa Won’t Miss”). Rarely does the production disappoint, but its to the detriment of “Love Hurts” which is a teeth-gritting track that deserves the skip.

The standout track on Die Lit is “Old Money” – the “Magnolia” of the project – incorporating the most memorable hook and beat. Most beats on the album, although enjoyable, centre around one melody. “Old Money” utilises two melodies, the second of which is the best with its electronic beeping. Carti’s not known for his lyricism, but there’s plenty of one-liners to enjoy off the song (“My chain too cold, chandelier” / “You need a coat just to come in here” / “Left my bitch at home, told her fuck herself”). It’s one of the few tracks that sounds like a genuine hit.

On “Mileage”, Chief Keef runs the show and adds weight to his (correct) statement of ‘inventing mumble rap’. Even though he may not be as popular as he once was, Keef proves he can fit effortlessly into the new trap landscape. “Fell In Luv” is another highlight on the album, even though it sounds like a rendition of Pi’erre Bourne’s own song “Yo Pi’erre”.

When Carti decides to soften the tempo, it’s a breath of fresh air for the exhausting album: the psychedelic aura of “No Time” with Gunna is a masked highlight with its glitzy production and sleepy flows.

Unfortunately, Die Lit continues when the show’s already over. Although his advocates may deny it, Playboi Carti’s vocal delivery is the most uninventive out of his peers. He provides no quirk to his vocals like a Young Thug or a Lil Uzi Vert does. With 19 tracks to sit through, the back end becomes predictably forgettable. By this point, you’ve heard all that Carti has to offer and easily tune out. With some more invention in his vocals, all 19 songs on Die Lit would be a solid showcase of inventive trap music.

Die Lit reaffirms that Playboi Carti is not able to maintain interest for over 40 minutes. His uninventive delivery still proves to be the achilles heel that stops the stylistic production from Pi’erre Bourne reaching its full potential.

Rating: 6 / 10

Best tracks: “Old Money”, “No Time”, “Shoota”, “Right Now”, “Fell In Luv”