Hey Playboi Carti, where’s the album?

Do music artists owe their fans?


(Photo via Vander Films on Unsplash)

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142 days. As of February 2, 2022, it has been 142 days since September 13. Scrawling them down in tallies like a prisoner fiending for release, that would be 28 sets of five, and an extra two slashes for good measure. That makes almost five months since September 13, the announced release date of Playboi Carti’s highly anticipated fourth studio album, “Narcissist” First, let’s take a step back; who is Playboi Carti? 

 “Carti was part of the new SoundCloud legends wave,” junior Trip Tagle, self-proclaimed Playboi Carti fan, said.  “He released self-titled album [“Playboi Carti”] in 2017, which really broke through into the mainstream… really good. I’d say it’s a nine out of 10.” 

Tagle said that he was pretty conservative with his rankings, and that in his book, Carti’s got a batting average of around 9.67 (that’s a nine and two tens, if you’re keeping score). That first ten, to Tagle, was “Die Lit”, Carti’s debut studio album.

“[Playboi Carti] really took what fans at the time called his baby voice, which was a more expressive, ‘using your voice as an instrument’ style of delivery for vocals, and he really just ran with that idea,” Tagle said. “I loved [“Die Lit”]. I think as time went on, more and more people grew to love it.”

Following Die Lit, Carti announced that he was working on a new album, in a whole new direction: “Whole Lotta Red”. Two years pass, and he continues to tease the album.

 “The tracklist gets leaked, some of the greatest songs of all time… Incredible. Like, will solve world hunger, world peace, [but] it’s never going to drop. Yep. Finally, after two (plus) years of torture, Christmas Day, 2020 Whole Lotta Red drops… it’s the greatest album of all time,” said Tagle.

That is the basic run-down. Playboi Carti is an experimental rapper known for his “baby voice” vocals, off the wall beats (often in collaboration with fellow SoundCloud wunderkind Pierre Bourne), and elusive personal style. 

Turn to August 23, 2021, 21 days before the album’s original scheduled release date. The next development in the Playboi Carti saga: an Instagram post. Carti is pictured, draped head-to-toe in enough Balenciaga to fund Paris, France for at least a quarter. Beneath him, a simple caption: NARCISSIST 09/13/21. September 13, Playboi Carti’s 25th birthday, was set as the release date for…  well… something. Was it an album? A fashion line? A new way of life? The second possibility seemed very possible, as the aforementioned Instagram post featured not just massive quantities of clothing, but multiple sewing machines stationed beside a mannequin. Additionally, in an interview with Crack Magazine, Carti indicated interests beyond music.

“At a certain point, I would like to be doing other things,” Carti told the magazine. “I’ll always be into music, but I just want to give out and show the world everything I’m capable of while I have that spotlight on me. I just want to take advantage of everything and then when it’s time to lay down, it’s time to lay down.”

Despite this, whether based on hope or hype, many fans assumed that an album was on the way. Their suspicions were seemingly affirmed when a Narcissist tour was announced, to begin on October 14, 2021. Screenshots began circulating containing the message, “[this] tour announcement is ahead of his highly anticipated new album NARCISSIST, which drops September 13”. However, these announcements have yet to be substantiated. 

“I’ve seen that but [haven’t] seen any proof that it’s real, just the same screenshot passed around and everyone was posting it,” said Reddit user keepmynamelowkeyfam.

Then, what do local fans think? 

“It was never an album,” said Tagle.

“I thought he just said it was an album,” junior Henry Cummins added. “[Carti] said he was going to release new music for a tour so that people would buy tickets. And then really, it was just a ploy to get the people to buy the tickets and see “Whole Lotta Red” live. And then everybody will be like, ‘Oh, that’s really good. He’s a genius. Actually a genius’.”

At least he’s taking it well. That begs the question, though: as an invested fan, can Carti do this to you? To withhold the album, tease it to no end, is this okay as a marketing scheme? Morally speaking, does Playboi Carti owe his fans an album, “Narcissist” or not? 

“I think he owes another album, but not so soon,” Cummins said. 

That’s a good mindset to have, because as of right now, “Narcissist” seems just about as dead-in-the-water as Narcissus.