Playboi Carti gained a cult following through his releases on SoundCloud before garnering mainstream attention with his breakthrough mixtape that saw two singles break into the Billboard Hot 100. His debut studio album rocketed up the Billboard 200 to land at the number three position, and his second album reached number one on that chart. In this article, we’ll go into the unique style of Playboi Carti and list 21 of his absolute best songs.
Magnolia was released from Playboi Carti’s debut commercial mixtape in 2017. It became an incredibly popular song, especially among other hip hop artists, with many of them releasing freestyles and remixes of the song.
Enigmatic of the fast and loose lifestyle Playboi Carti leads, the song was all about cops, sex, and drugs. Magnolia peaked at 29 on the Hot 100, seven on the Hot Rap Songs chart, and 11 on the US Hot R&B/Hip Hop Songs chart. In the end, the song would go on to be certified triple platinum by the RIAA.
In a sense (I mean directly), the term “sky” refers to the feeling of being high on weed, lean, and any other drugs. Sky as a song is an ode to that feeling, with Carti enjoying the substances to total numbness while addressing how he’s fallen out of love with the girl he’s currently seeing. With videogame-style synths and crazy loud 808s going off in the background, the song is full of energy.
Wokeuplikethis* was the second single released from Playboi Carti’s debut commercial mixtape and features Lil Uzi Vert. In short, it’s a really good trap song, spilling out ridiculous numbers of ideas throughout the verses in the carefree style Playboi Carti is known for. The song went double platinum in the US, reaching number 76 on the Billboard Hot 100, 32 on the Hot R&B/Hip Hop Songs chart, and 25 on the Hot Rap Songs chart.
Sampling Jodeci’s What About Us and starting with a deep synth bassline, R.I.P. is a major throwback to the early 90s. The song sets itself up just like the great hip hop songs of the 90s, diving into Playboi Carti’s crazed energy while delivering some of the absolute best verses of his career.
The music video mirrors his chaotic style, featuring a punk rock-style mosh pit that adds an artistic element to the video that might have been lost if filmed any other way. R.I.P. was one of Carti’s better chart performers as well, earning solid reviews from fans and critics alike.
Location was the opening track of Carti’s debut mixtape, creating an ambient atmosphere that centers around its hard trap beat. It wasn’t a breakthrough album for nothing; Playboi Carti was releasing groundbreaking stuff in the trap music scene with this album and song, playing up the atmosphere of the track more than the lyrics and creating an epic, slower single that set the stage for the rest of the tape.
6. Fell In Luv
Fell In Luv was the first time Playboi Carti and Bryson Tiller worked together, but they had been friends for a long time before this collaboration came into being. The song draws on Carti’s feelings for his significant other, with Carti and Bourne trying to find the words to express the feeling of being in love.
It isn’t common to hear a hip hop artist talking about cutting hoes off (at least if the reason is that they found the woman they want), but Carti’s view in this song is exactly that, creating what could actually be called one of the few trap love songs I’ve ever heard of.
A massive inclusion on Playboi Carti’s Die Lit debut studio album, Shoota sees another collaboration with Lil Uzi Vert, who handles the first and second verses of the song.
The beat never stops as the two rap about their expensive jewelry before Carti brags about having a crew of shooters supporting him. Shoota climbed to number 25 on the Hot R&B/Hip Hop Songs chart, peaking at number 46 on the Billboard Hot 100. It’s pure minimalist Carti, a world where he seems at his best.
8. Long Time
Long Time served as the introductory track of Playboi Carti’s Die Lit album, a braggadocious single that gives credit to his relentless determination for his success and discusses the luxurious things he can now afford following the success of his debut mixtape.
It was originally thought to be the album’s outro instead of the intro, but the Check Please single that was meant to be the intro was leaked and ended up being cut from the album in 2018. You can also find an alternate version of the song’s instrumentation online, as Carti previewed it in concert at the Rolling Loud Bay Area event.
9. Stop Breathing
Taking a page from Gucci Mane’s Shirt Off, Stop Breathing is a high-energy punk rap ode to Carti’s gang members and serves as an insanely brutal diss track directed at Ola Runt.
The song originated from Ola Runt’s gang, The Henchmen killing a close friend of Carti, Bigg Sosa, alleging Carti had his gang shank Ola in prison. The song hits ridiculously hard, and the anger channeled by Playboi Carti in the song is legitimately palpable.
Fetti released before Carti dropped his debut mixtape, originally found on his SoundCloud, but a mastered version was eventually released in 2016.
The song features Maxo Kream and emcee Da$h, with all three rappers diving into all their substance use from wed to lean before bragging about how wealthy they have all gotten. The song was eventually rereleased in 2020 as a high-quality single with full production value behind it.
11. Yah Mean
It should be no surprise that so many of Playboi Carti’s best songs came on his debut mixtape. Yah Mean is yet another one of those, playing on the phonetic similarities between NBA player Yao Ming’s name, with the player receiving several shoutouts throughout the song.
Like many of the best rap songs, it, of course, goes through the standard “wealth and women” topics, breezing through the lyrics in the trademark effortless style of Carti.
12. Right Now
Right Now isn’t Carti’s best song on the charts, nor with critics, and sometimes it doesn’t even end up on the fan’s radar. It’s easily one of his most underrated songs, but it’s still him at his best.
Dark trap beats and rolling riffs that don’t change throughout the entire length of the song set the stage perfectly for a Playboi Carti track. By the end, you’ll be hooked; frankly, the song was worthy of a better commercial performance than it ended up seeing.
Flex, maybe better than any other early Playboi Carti song, pulls listeners into its vivid hallucinations. He talks about flexing as a way of showing gratitude for his immense wealth but switches the beat up mid-song. The lyrics change from flexing on the world to showing a softer side that doesn’t value money above everything else. It’s one of the few peeks behind the curtain we get with Carti, showing that money, drugs, women, and flexing may be just a coping mechanism.
14. @ MEH
One of the saddest things about @ Meh is that it got excluded from the final tracklist of Carti’s Whole Lotta Red album. It was initially released as a teaser for the album but was left unfortunately left off for unknown reasons.
It’s everything great about Playboi Carti in one song, with ad-libs, lyrics matching his album’s theme, and a huge building atmosphere. While it didn’t make it onto the album, it’s still a major hit with fans and is claimed by many as one of the greatest songs he’s ever recorded.
ILoveUIHateU sounds like a typical Playboi Carti song, opening with a spacey beat and talking about drugs while mumbling through a bunch of lines. But, it takes a different approach than you might expect, leaning into Carti’s love-hate relationship with drugs where he loves using them, but he knows it’s affecting his life in a negative way. It’s odd looking at it, in all honesty, because even so early in his career, he can already see some potential problems and addresses them in this song.
16. FlatBed Freestyle
FlatBed Freestyle is an ode to the original 80s rap styles, including orchestral samples and melodies from It’s Yours by T La Rock & Jazzy Jay. Lyrically, it isn’t anything new, talking about typical rapper tropes like women, drugs, and a fast-paced lifestyle.
What makes the song stand out is Carti’s unique delivery and the atmosphere it builds, which makes it the perfect song for driving around. To many fans, it’s the best song on the Die Lit album, and it’s hard to disagree with their arguments.
17. Vamp Anthem
If you ever thought hip hop could benefit from a little injection of classical music, you’re in for a treat. Vamp Anthem opens with Bach’s Toccata and Fugue in D Minor, commonly used in media for evil, dark, and threatening tropes, which sets the tone for the song incredibly well.
The cinematic terror of the sample blends into an ode to Carti’s vampire aesthetic that was displayed through the Die Lit album. The song references Carti’s gang affiliations and reckless lifestyle, with Carti referring to himself as “King Vamp.”
Dothatshit! is basically a rework of the Nike slogan, “Just Do It.” All action, no talk is the theme of this song, where Playboi Carti discusses that he doesn’t want to talk about the things he comes up with; he wants to get out and do them. Of course, it’s got plenty of loose women, fashion references, and gunplay with the gang, but it’s more than that. It’s the song that Carti lets the world know he’s about that action, the type to show instead of tell.
If you want a hard-to-read original title, this one was slated to be titled Ps2 GLITCHES x XAN HOE. One of Carti’s first tracks to ever be uploaded to his SoundCloud, the instrumentals use samples from the classic startup sound of a PS2. Funny enough, the song was made commercially available through a release in 2014, but you can also find an original track available for download on SoundCloud that comes from the 2013 version of the song.
20. Choppa Won’t Miss
Playboi Carti and Young Thug have worked together quite a bit, but Choppa Won’t Miss was their first real collaboration together. The sign pits the two of them against each other, rapping verses back and forth about their two opposing sides going to war in the street.
By far not the first time you’ll hear Carti rapping about weapons. It’s a common theme for the gang-affiliated rapper. But I agree. Choppas put too many bullets downrange to miss a dude in the streets.
21. Broke Boi
Broke Boi was one of the songs that helped Playboi Carti find his big breakthrough in the music industry. It’s a massive flex song, throwing shade at all of his adversaries while raising himself above them with references to his lavish lifestyle. It’s also one of the best examples of Carti showing his roots in hip hop since the song has instrumentation that fits perfectly within the Atlanta trap music genre.
As a contributing writer for Music Grotto, Dakotah writes and produces professional music/media content. He works closely with editorial staff to meet editorial standards and create
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