Earlier this month, rapper, singer/songwriter and Marilyn Manson fan Lil Uzi Vert took to Instagram to explain that he was retiring and deleting all his music because he wants to just “be normal.” His post expressed genuine anguish and desperation, but this isn't the first time we’ve seen this. Many artists say they will retire, but end up popping back up in the business after taking just a short hiatus.
Lil Uzi made a name for himself back in 2014 with his mixtape “The Real Uzi.” Soon after, he signed a record deal with Atlantic Records. Since then, Lil Uzi has made countless songs which have topped charts, gaining him notoriety and quite a large fan base.
Lil Uzi’s musical style is a mix between rap and rock which has made him a respected artist and gained him much-deserved attention. Complex wrote that, “Uzi has a gift, found in his rapid-fire delivery and huge hooks.”
In the same piece, Lil Uzi touched on what he thinks differentiates him from other artists, saying, “The thing that makes me different from any other rapper is that I usually talk real crazy in my songs. Usually, in my songs, that’s really what’s going on.”
Lil Uzi has remained active throughout the years and the announcement of his retirement is shocking. In 2018, Lil Uzi was featured on a multitude of songs including Travis Scott and Kanye West’s “Watch” and Playboi Carti’s “Shoota.” More recently, fans were anticipating the release of Uzi’s new album, “Eternal Atake” in 2019 which he started promoting mid-2018.
So what would make a talented and successful artist like Lil Uzi want to retire?
While the music industry may be a beast which takes a toll on artists, the reason behind Uzi’s announcement may be rooted in nothing more than a publicity stunt.
This may have seemed like an insensitive and far-fetched idea initially, but just a few weeks after announcing that he was retiring, Lil Uzi took to Instagram to say he wishes he could hit the studio. Complex related Lil Uzi’s retirement announcement to Shia LaBeouf's 72-hour stay at a movie theater back in 2015 where he binge-watched all his movies. Why would someone do that? Well, we are still talking and writing about it now, nearly four years later.
Maybe before the release of his new album, Lil Uzi is doing just that: attracting more publicity and attention to himself. He may be teasing us with the idea that he may never make music again so that when he does put something out, we eat it all up.
Lil Uzi isn’t the first artist to do this, though. In the past, artists like Jay Z and Lil Wayne have said they were retiring only to surprise us by coming out with new projects, making us more excited than ever to listen.
It is unclear whether Lil Uzi is truly serious, worn out and just wants to “be normal” as he said, but his retirement appears to be somehow shocking, yet unsurprising. It has worked for many artists, so what’s to say it won't work for Lil Uzi?
But this also makes us question if we ask for and demand too much out of special and talented artists. If Lil Uzi really does want out, what gives us the right to demand more from him and question whether he has made “enough art” to retire?
We all get tired from our lives and jobs, and every year people from ages 25 to 85 decide they want something else. So, they go back to school, decide to devote their lives to something completely different and change careers. If this happens to so many of us every year, why can’t it happen to artists?
It is just as feasible that Lil Uzi genuinely wants out as much as it is that this is just a promotional tactic. What is certain, though, is that we don’t get to dictate that — only Lil Uzi does. So while we may mourn the Marilyn Manson of rap's career, we have to just wait and see what happens, all the while remembering that Lil Uzi doesn’t owe us anything.