This week, Playboi Carti turned 26-years-old. But, while the cult hero celebrated his birthday on Tuesday (Sept. 13), the day was a painful reminder for fans of the bizarre, unfulfilling era that was NARCISSIST.
With very little warning, Carti took to Instagram in late August last year, captioning a now-deleted post of him donning a black mask with “NARCISSIST 09/13/21.” This decree sent the hip-hop landscape into a frenzy, especially considering the effects of his culture-shattering Christmas 2020 album Whole Lotta Red were still being felt.
The next couple of months following this announcement were full of pure mayhem. Not only did the intended release date for the cryptic album pass — which was also Carti’s 25th birthday — but each subsequent piece of news involving Carti’s camp was as bewildering as the last. Examples of this include a merch release that turned out to have never been approved by Carti, a demand by Carti to bypass sample clearances for the album, a flurry of “NARCISSIST” billboards that manifested into zero new music and a 47-date “NARCISSIST” tour that was trimmed down after a riot at the Houston stop and eventually renamed the “King Vamp Tour.”
After this cataclysmic end to 2021, Carti began to make less appearances on social media as the demand for a new LP only grew. With how little of an online presence Carti possesses, rumors that swirl around him can be tough to verify. It was difficult for fans to trust the potential for a collaborative album and tour with Kanye West that was gossiped about, because it felt silly to hold any hope for Carti’s return.
However, in April, King Vamp’s exclusive interview with XXL began to revive interest, as he confirmed that his next album would be titled Music — ditching the NARCISSIST project altogether. Music‘s lead single would reportedly be titled “Wicked” and the tape would center around the themes of “Love. Sex. Drugs. Changes in my life.” But, in typical Carti fashion, and annoyingly similar to his new best friend Ye’s antics, the new music still has not come.
The only releases that have come from Opium headquarters in 2022 have been from protégés Ken Carson and Destory Lonely, who have been lighting up the hip-hop scene with respective studio albums X and NO STYLIST. In the XXL interview, Carti explained how he connected with these two youngins and what they mean to him.
“My artists that I have are Ken Carson, Destroy Lonely and Homicide Beno! and Homixide Meechie,” he said. “I have a gang of producers. I came in first just signing a gang of producers. Ken and Lonely, they are two kids who grew up where I’m from. And they are family. As they got older, they started rapping.”
But, music from these two can only do so much to quell Opium fans of their desire for a new release from the King Vamp. Since the NARCISSIST fiasco, the only smidge of Carti music that has been released was the Instagram exclusive track he joined forces with A$AP Rocky for. Posted on Sept. 2, the song sees the duo elegantly ride a blissful drill beat, which further proves that anything Carti touches turns to gold.
As we revisit the traumatic anniversary of Carti’s unkept promise, the scars still remain, and will continue to show until the Atlanta icon bandages them with a new release — particularly an entire project. But, as proven with NARCISSIST, even when an announcement comes out of his mouth, you can only truly believe him once the songs are added to DSPs.