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Breaking down the Lyrics on ‘Whole Lotta Red’ by ‘Playboi Carti’

Released: 2020

Label: AWGE/Interscope Records

Featuring: Kanye West, Kid Cudi, Future

One of the most stirring and uncompromisingly experimental cards in the hip-hop deck, Playboi Carti, dropped a veritable gamma bomb of aural artistry on Christmas 2020 – his much-anticipated sophomore album, ‘Whole Lotta Red’. Infused with Carti’s instinctual knack for cultivating the avant-garde within the realm of trap, the album is an unforgettable foray into uncharted hip-hop territory. With high profile features that include the visionary likes of Kanye West and Kid Cudi, on “Go2DaMoon” and “M3tamorphosis” respectively, to an alliance with Atlanta’s own prince of the trap, Future on “Teen X”, ‘Whole Lotta Red’ is a smorgasbord of genre pushing elements.

And then there’s the lyrical content – deftly weaving narratives of his unique lifestyle, braggadocio, and vampiric themes across a tapestry of heavy bass and gritty sonics. Deciphering the intricate lyrical webs spun by Carti across tracks like “Rockstar Made”, “JumpOutTheHouse”, and “King Vamp” provides a deeper insight into the mind of this game-changing artist. Not to be overlooked is the quintessential emotive power ballad, “ILoveUIHateU”, a complex expression of love and loathing that only Carti could deliver with such finesse.

So let’s get into it. From the trap-laced “Rockstar Made” to the heart-rending introspection of “F33l Lik3 Dyin”, here are the breakdowns of the lyrics on ‘Whole Lotta Red’ by ‘Playboi Carti’.

Rockstar Made

He paints a raw picture of his fast-paced, hedonistic lifestyle, and his hardened worldview shows no room for love or affection, just pure, unadulterated lust, and grit. The repeated mantra of “Rockstar Made” aligns Carti with the rebellious, live-fast-die-young ethos of rockstars, positioning him firmly against societal norms and underlining his refusal to conform. Through this track, Carti projects his assertion of self-made success and the invincibility that comes with it.

Go2DaMoon (feat. Kanye West)

The track is a cryptic escapade, laced with Ye’s self-assured verses and Carti’s high-pitched staccato punctuations. Kanye holds the first half of the joint, dropping provocative bars about his status, power, and the material life, rendering a distinct bravado. Carti then reigns in with sharp jabs and obscure lines depicting toxic relationships and street-life struggles. The lyrics drenched in street parlance and hazy metaphors offer a firm grip into Playboi Carti’s chaotic world, where personal conflicts and industry pressures blend, shaping a unique sonic landscape. It’s not just a track, it’s a voyage—to the moon, of course.

Stop Breathing

Carti thrusts his chest forward proclaiming his shirt-off prowess, juxtaposed against the raw confession of contemplating homicide since his brother’s death. His lyrics call to the streets, laying bare his alliances, his mob ties and his willingness to defend. Infused with Carti’s repetitious yet hypnotic delivery, the lyrics echo a comical nihilism, wherein Carti sees himself as an out-of-control force, a self-declared ‘young bitch in his prime’. But amidst this chaos, he still finds time for material pursuits, whether it’s driving new cars or pleasing his fans. “Stop Breathing” is pure Carti – unpredictable, uncensored, unfiltered. It’s a maelstrom of raw energy and emotion, captured in words.


The title itself, a nod to rookie Beno Udrih, an underrated figure yet significant on his team, mirrors Carti’s own ascension in the hip-hop realm. He extravagantly rhymes about bestowing his wealth upon his loved ones, while also demonstrating a competitive streak (akin to LeBron with his heat) when it comes to his dealings in life and in hip-hop. Carti also delves into his relationships, toeing the line between vulnerability and bravado. He’s discerning about his circle, emphasizing loyalty and kinship (‘posted with my boy, yeah, my slatt’). And with the chant-like repetition of ‘Go out the back door on that nigga’, Carti illustrates his readiness to eliminate any adversary.


The repetitive mantra “Jump out the house” offers an unfiltered glimpse into Carti’s escapism and wild, free-spirit style. This tracks stands as a defiant yelp of resistance, asserting his individuality while breaching the threshold of conventionality. With metaphorical ‘racks’ stacked high and ‘bags’ aplenty, the song carves out a flashbang image of Carti’s rise to fame — a raucous homage to his hustle. It’s mumble rap sure enough, but within those mumbled lines lie Carti’s unabashed love for the game and a powerful testament to his extravagant and unapologetically rebellious lifestyle.

M3tamorphosis (feat. Kid Cudi)

Kid Cudi)” off ‘Whole Lotta Red’ is a classic Playboi Carti joint that’s all about transformation in every sense – from the lyrical content to the sonics. Situated midway through the album, this track serves as a turning point, with Carti and Kid Cudi unpacking their ascension to revered status in the music game. Throughout, the lyrics highlight this transformation or ‘metamorphosis’, embodying an unshakeable self-confidence and assertiveness that can’t be undermined. The sentiment “can’t nobody tell you shit” is a firm Leitmotif, underscoring their indifference to external perceptions. Kid Cudi’s signature hums add to this cosmic voyage, solidifying the celestial connection between these two visionaries. It’s not just a song; it’s a testament to their evolution within the hip-hop landscape.


His lyrics illuminate his audacious lifestyle, filled with decadence and defiance. He draws listeners into his world with relatable references of overcoming legal struggles, embracing his lavish lifestyle, and basking in the euphoria of fame. The repetitive chorus, “Whole lotta mob, whole lotta mob shit,” works like a mantra, a homage to his ATL roots and the brotherhood that surrounds him. His journey is painted as both glorious and grueling, a testament to the dualities that exist in the life of a rockstar. The trappy, high-energy beat accompanying the braggadocious lyrics is emblematic of Carti’s unique punk-infused style.

No Sl33p

The repeated line, “When I go to sleep, I dream ’bout murder,” is a haunting refrain, depicting the mental toll of a life on edge. This dark dreamscape is contrasted with a palpable need for protection, evidenced by his insistence on never being without his “Drac’.” The dreams of violence and the ever-present firearms illustrate a heightened state of paranoia, where danger is just a moment’s notice away. Carti’s derisive view of fake friends and his exploitative approach to women stands as a strong commentary on trust issues intrinsic to his fame and street status.

New Tank

Carti flexes his material wealth and street credibility, flaunting his coupe, his “brother” with a metaphorical mop, implying money-making and power. He also explores the dark underbelly of fame, hinting at legal troubles with lines about catching a case, and serves the base, referring to his dedicated fanbase. His song, drenched in narcotic and hedonistic imagery, presents Carti as a rockstar who bleeds music. The line about “Lamborghini parked outside, it’s purple like lean” stitches opulence and substance culture inventively. There’s a rawness here, an insistent, repetitive quality in his lyrics, a nod to his trap roots and punk ethos.

Teen X (feat. Future)

Future)” is an introspective, entrancing dive into the rapper’s experiences with the synthetic, often dangerous highs from substances like Xanax and codeine. He evokes an image of an extravagant yet hollow lifestyle, characterized by luxury cars and designer jewelry, but marred by a reliance on substances. Carti addresses the pain of a failed relationship, choosing to numb his feelings with Xanax rather than face them directly. Future’s verse punctuates this tale with his own experiences, painting a portrait of a life hollowed out by addiction. It’s a sobering exploration of the allure and destructive power of substance abuse in the rap industry.


Carti takes aim at his imitators and flexes his status in the rap game, flaunting his designer drip and asserting his uniqueness as a fabled rockstar. The recurring “what?” echoes his disbelief and dismissal of people trying to bring his vibe down. His reference to famed ‘Mortal Kombat’ character Johnny Cage, known for his flashy and unorthodox fighting style, underlines the playful audacity in Carti’s artistic craft. Yet, within the swagger and braggadocio, there’s an acknowledgment of the pressures that come with fame, unmasking a nuanced vulnerability below the surface of his ‘rockstar’ veneer.

Vamp Anthem

The lyrics’ nocturnal imagery and menacing bravado, the repeated references to readiness, and a pronounced sense of danger suggest that Carti is ever-prepared for both literal and metaphorical battles. This, in turn, ties into a broader theme of survival in the hostile environment of the music industry and street life. The ‘vamp’ element, typically associated with immortality and night life, resonates with the rebellious, unyielding spirit of hip-hop culture itself. So, through his lyrics, Carti cleverly intertwines the everyday struggles of a modern hip-hop artist with the lore of vampirism.

New N3on

From ‘bags full of cash’ to ‘iced-out plaques’, Carti’s lyrics reflect the materialistic aspects of his success in the hyper-competitive hip-hop industry. Aside from boasting about his wealth, Carti also showcases his influence by claiming he can make a woman ‘top ten,’ undoubtedly a subtle nod to his power in shaping popular culture. The repetitive chants of ‘hol’ up’ function as an assertive declaration to the world that he’s taken his time, but now he’s here to stay. Overall, “New N3on” encapsulates the quintessential Playboi Carti – audacious, extravagant, and indomitably defiant.


The track is a journey through Carti’s experiences in love and life, a struggle between wanting to maintain his hold and conceding to the pull of emotions. Dipped in a confessional tone, he contemplates changing for love and confesses to being unable to control his feelings. “Control” also references Carti’s background in Fulton County, Georgia, offering a nod to his roots and loyalty. Amidst these deeply personal revelations, there’s a unique fusion with pop culture, grounding Carti’s narrative in the wider hip-hop scene with talks of Kanye West’s production contribution and Givenchy collaborations. It’s a track that showcases Carti’s versatility, uniting the personal with the communal in hip-hop’s ever-expanding landscape.

Punk Monk

Carti is far from friendly here, making it abundantly clear he ain’t about fake friendships or industry alliances. Mentioning the chance he had to sign Trippie Redd and Lil Keed, and regretting a missed opportunity with Pi’erre Bourne, Carti charts a journey filled with hits and misses. He points to an industry trying to mold him into something he ain’t—a reference to his bold and unique style that defies pigeonholing. “Punk Monk” isn’t just a track, homie, it’s a testament to Carti’s agency and authenticity in an industry rife with artificiality.

On That Time

Thematically, it’s quintessential Carti, spittin’ bout being locked and loaded with artillery and the audacious swagger of his lifestyle. The Draco, a type of compact firearm, becomes a symbol of his dangerous mystique. Carti’s lyricism isn’t about deep introspection; he’s more interested in painting vivid, colorful strokes that steer clear of minutiae. He’s all about brash audacity, his lifestyle of non-stop flexin’, and the gritty glamour of his street cred. That’s Carti’s genius – he revels in the flamboyant aesthetic of his songs rather than relying on heavy lyrical complexity. His music hits different and “On That Time” is no exception.

King Vamp

The track leans heavily on Carti’s ‘vamp’ persona, a term used in Atlanta’s slang universe referring to staying up all night – a perfect mirror to Carti’s notorious nocturnal lifestyle. Carti’s lyrics weave nuances of braggadocio, with nods to his unapologetic wealth and fame, confronting his industry struggles with an audacious attitude. His reference to feeling like a ‘dark knight’ underscores this otherworldly persona, adept at navigating the tricky terrains of the rap industry. The track is a testament to Carti’s unique style, amalgamating gritty rap beats with a punk-inspired ethos, all while asserting his royalties from the ‘label’.


Carti’s lyrical modus operandi sways between flaunting high-fashion brands, flexing his wealth, and issuing raw threats, spotlighting the hardened street mentality that underpins his public persona. The lyrics, heavily drenched in repetition, embody the cyclical nature of his lifestyle, alternately trapped and liberated by fame’s double-edged sword. Carti’s explicit depiction of his hedonistic lifestyle and the looming threats within it serves as a cautionary tale — a telling mural of life at the dizzying heights of hip-hop stardom.


Here, Carti opens a window into his psyche, revealing his pursuit of detachment and oblivion through substance use, possibly as a coping mechanism. The word repetitiveness almost mirrors the numbing effect he seeks, while the high-altitude references symbolize his craving to escape reality. Yet, amidst this emotional flight, he suddenly fixes his gaze on grounded issues, like his distrust in relationships and discontent with superficiality in his circle. Thus, “Sky” presents a paradoxical Carti who’s trying to drown his sense of isolation and skepticism, while also candidly exposing them. Mad paradoxical if you ask me.


He captures the dissonance between his skyrocketing career and crumbling personal life, hinting at the hardships of maintaining relationships while living in the fast lane. Carti’s lyrics reveal a deep introspection, reflecting on the effects of fame on his psyche and the consequent emotional turmoil. The track hits home with its raw emotion, echoing sentiments of yearning for stability amid chaos. Carti’s clever lyrical twist with lines such as “I live my life like a kid with allowance” signifies his sense of unearned privilege in his stardom, cementing “Over” as a highlight in his discography.


Carti plays with contrasts, the love-hate spectrum pulsating in the track’s name. He spills his heart on a Pi’erre Bourne feast of a beat, fueling the ceaseless vibe of internal turmoil. Carti’s thinking about dying his hair red, a symbol of danger and intense passion, echoing his deep-seated struggles. He’s deep into the lean-drinking culture, mixing problems with Promethazine, finding solace in numbness. But it’s more than that. The song weaves a narrative of intoxication, both with substances and chaotic love, tangled with that dark seductiveness of the Carti ethos. The lyrics hit hard, echoed in understated simplicity. There’s a rawness that’s hard to shake. Baby, don’t get too close, indeed.


The lyrics reveal a story of a young Carti idolizing his brother’s thug life and drug-dealing business, a raw reflection of the tough Atlanta streets where he was raised. This track is Carti’s ride-or-die anthem, showing unflinching loyalty to his brother and his crew. The repeated phrase “I’m gon’ die ’bout my guys, yeah” speaks volumes about the kinship and street solidarity that Carti values above all else. With a pulsating beat and Carti’s raspy vocals, this song is a stirring homage to the people who shaped his life and a stark reminder of the harsh realities of his past.

Not PLaying

He spits bars with swagger about overcoming obstacles from his old hood and basking in the perks of fame and fortune. The lyrical complexity may not be Shakespearean, but Carti’s nonchalant braggadocio is his signature move, flexing about money, women, and his badass ‘big boss’ persona reminiscent of Suge Knight. The repetition of “I’m not playin'” emphasizes his firm grip on success, signaling that he’s done playing games and is here to make his stamp on hip-hop. Carti’s evolved from a product of his environment to a game changer, and he ain’t afraid to let haters know.

F33l Lik3 Dyin

The lyrics oscillate between despair and defiance, hinting at a Platonic relationship gone wrong that might, in part, fuel Carti’s undeniable sense of heartache. His vulnerability is laid bare with the recurring refrain “I feel like dyin'”, but there’s also an unyielding spirit here, as reflected in lines like “Gotta stand tall / Back against the wall”. Indeed, Carti’s strength lies in his ability to meld raw emotion with braggadocious bravado, creating a disorienting yet intoxicating soundscape where love, loss, and the relentless pursuit of individuality coalesce.

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