Before people started talking about Lil Uzi Vert jumping 20 feet off a sound tent into the crowd at last weekend's Rolling Loud festival in Miami, the conversation surrounding the 22-year-old Philly native mostly centered around the delayed release of his much-anticipated upcoming project, Luv is Rage 2.
After releasing two well-received mixtapes—Lil Uzi Vert vs. the World and The Perfect LUV Tape—and earning his first No. 1 record (he was a guest on Migos' "Bad and Boujee") in 2016, Uzi jumpstarted his 2017 campaign with the release of "XO TOUR Llif3," a TM88-produced single that, in its sixth week on the chart, is sitting at No. 9 on the Billboard Hot 100.
Given the incredible success of "XO TOUR Llif3," which has racked up over 88M streams on Spotify alone, it would make sense for Uzi's label, Atlantic Records, to capitalize on the song's momentum and finally release Luv is Rage 2, right?
Well, not exactly.
During Episode 111 of The Joe Budden Podcast, Joe revealed that he recently had a conversation with Michael Kyser, a veteran executive at Atlantic whom he's known since his first record deal at Def Jam. According to Kyser, the reason why Uzi fans are still patiently waiting for an album is, ironically, because of their incredible, unwavering and massive support of his material on streaming services.
"He's doing 50 million streams a week. Why do I need to put an album out?" Kyser told Budden.
It should be noted that during a Q&A in April, Uzi's producer and label manager Don Cannon revealed the album was not finished.
While artists like Kendrick Lamar, J. Cole, and Logic have all put up incredible numbers over the past six months by releasing full-length albums, the idea that artists no longer need to release an album (or, for that matter, a full body of work) has been brewing for quite some time.
Last September, in a piece entitled "Albums Are Dying a Slow Death at the Hands of Prospering Playlists," Yoh wrote, "Young Thug could sell only 15K units in his first week, but if he has songs that appear on multiple popular playlists, he could very well still tour and have a fan-favorite setlist." Eight months later, Lil Uzi Vert is in the same boat. Should Atlantic Records risk the potential embarrassment of low first week sales when a string of hit singles will keep Uzi's name on the charts and his songs on all the popular streaming service playlists, allowing for a plethora of show and touring opportunities?
The answer, we now know, is no.