Much ado about Uzi: Are we on the cusp of Eternal Atake’s highly anticipated release — or nah?

PNB Rock is planning amphitheater tours, with one coming up July 6 for the Dope Shows Fest at The Mann.

PNB Rock is planning amphitheater tours, with one coming up July 6 for the Dope Shows Fest at The Mann.

Chill Moody is hooked up with Dawn Thompson for their soul-hop duet, &More, through the end of 2019.

Meek Mill is doing mainstream collaborations, far and wide (Ed Sheeran, Gucci Mane, Mustard), making documentaries about prison reform for Amazon, prepping for autumn tour dates with Future, and, as of this week, becoming a co-owner of retail cap chain Lids. 

The top tier members of Philly’s solo male rappers look as if they have the rest of their year planned out, their careers in order and their time filled with definitive adventure and accomplishment. 

So where the hell is Lil Uzi Vert, the platinum-plated Philly rapper who, with his 2017 debut album “Luv Is Rage 2,” managed the balance of an edgy, artfully weird but commercially explosive presence, and now is hiding in plain sight?

For the last six months, with a recent mess of June activities, texts, Instagram stories, fan videos and all-around rumor mongering, there have been off-and-on words to the effect that his long-awaited sophomore effort “Eternal Atake” would drop momentarily. In May, Uzi also told the crowd during his Rolling Loud Miami performance that he “finished the last song to the album.” 

At the beginning of June, Reddit laid claim to a Philly fan video  wherein fans were getting ready for a prom limo ride and Uzi just showed up, all smiles, and was asked about his next album’s release date. His “three weeks” response was greeted with the sort of jarring hopefulness that comes with an Apple IPO. Then last week, another Instagram fan stepped up to Uzi on the street, asked a similar question, and got the old “Uhm, I don’t know, honestly” treatment.

Here’s just a small portrait of what is and what isn’t keeping Lil Uzi Vert from Eternal Atake, which could honestly drop by the time you’re done reading this.

The label and management thing

Where that new album would land label-wise seems to be a big part of the problematic equation. Uzi is (or was?) signed to Generation Now (through Atlantic) with whom he has hinted at deep troubles. He is now also managed by Jay Z’s Roc Nation team as of March. Does that mean that the Francisville native is signed to a Hova-related label? Certainly, Uzi Vert’s March 2019 single “Free Uzi” was a cry for help and a shout out to Roc Nation for their help. “Had to get my business together/ I had $3 million in taxes/ I got it all off on this level/ They said it’s $3 million missing/ I ain’t say nothing, I stay level.”

In praise of Jay-Z’s management firm, Vert wrote “I love Roc Nation” in an Instagram story last Thursday. “Feel so normal. Thank you.” Uzi’s emoji-filled shout-out was then followed by a message from Roc Nation’s Instagram account stating “right back at you.” Love is all around.

Wait, didn’t he retire?

Did we mention that his “Free Uzi” from March 2019 came out only weeks after Vert told fans that he would be retiring for good? That’s correct. At the top of the year, Uzi went back onto Instagram and announced that he had had enough of hip-hop, period; that he has “deleted everything” and was “done with music.” 

After setting the rap world and the internet aflame with that rouse, what would be more natural then to not only drop “Free Uzi,” but also two more tracks in April, “That’s a Rack” and “Sanguine Paradise.” He dropped the latter, and it was then removed from all platforms and re-released with minor but easily-spotted changes. Two weeks ago, TM88, the co-producer of “XO TOUR Llif3,” shared a new track called “Slayerr” featuring Vert. Even if “Eternal Atake” doesn’t drop this week as planned, he’s got tracks, and retirement looks as if it is off the table.

Is Uzi being sued?

When Uzi first announced he was working on something called “Eternal Atake” in July 2018, he showed off an album cover with artwork including elements reminiscent of Heaven’s Gate, the pseudo-religious cult whose belief system hinged on the Hale-Bopp comet being an interplanetary vessel that would transport them from Earth. It lost 39 members of its group to ritual suicide in San Diego in 1997. Two members who left Heaven’s Gate in 1987 still manage the cult’s archival website and threatened to sue Uzi for the album artwork. “He is using and adapting our copyrights and trademarks without our permission and the infringement will be taken up with our attorneys,” wrote a Heaven’s Gate rep to the Genius website. “This is not fair use or parody, it is a direct and clear infringement.” So, what happened there? Is this part of the hold-up?

What’s with all the Instagram Fit pics?

The other day, to celebrate Pride, Uzi popped onto Instagram to present his latest fit pic of himself admiring his own dress sense, one where he’s posed wearing a rainbow flag-adorned Nike T-shirt, matching sneakers, with a rack of rainbow tulle nearby. Which is cool and LGBTQ-focused. Fantastic. But, what is with his obsession with the fit pic, an Instagram celeb shot based in the fact that you are your own stylist, showcasing your outfits, your sense of color and texture, and your overall coordination when it comes to personal style. Move through his Instagram feed, however, and you see that it’s no single occurrence. Uzi is as obsessed with showing off his personal sense of sartorial styling as he is making people crazy about his upcoming album’s release date. 

No less a men’s styling expert than GQ has written several features about Uzi’s drive to fit, noting how seamlessly he manages to mix all forms of sportswear together. “No one is cooler than Lil Uzi Vert,” claimed the feature.

Nav says Uzi is cool. 

One rapper who can attest that Lil Uzi Vert is on an upward trajectory when it comes to making music is Nav, the Canadian rapper signed to The Weeknd’s XO label. Nav is fresh off of having the number one album in the country, “Bad Habits.” In Philly for a show at The Fillmore, Nav, who was once ready to retire from music too, testified to the power of Uzi and working with his old friend. “I’ve known Uzi for a while… he’s the best,” Nav said before the Philly show. 

Nav got to guest feature for Uzi’s song “Habits” that was to appear on the recent “Bad Habits” album until “DJ Drama and Don Cannon wouldn’t clear Uzi’s verse,” Nav said regarding the Generation Now partners. Not to worry, though. Along with hopefully releasing that track with Uzi when it is legally viable, Nav said that “Uzi and I recorded a whole fresh album’s worth of collaborations that we’re just waiting to drop when the time is right.”

Get in line, right after “Eternal Atake.”

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    • A.D. Amarosi's Headshot

      A.D. Amorosi is a Philadelphia-based journalist who, along with Philadelphia Weekly, writes for numerous local, national and international publications including Variety and the Philadelphia Inquirer.