Playboi Carti is rarely at a loss for words. Publicly, the young rapper projects a sense of perpetual ease. But this wasn’t that. “That was one of my happiest moments…” he began, before trailing off. He flipped his braids back and ran a hand through them pensively, revealing the birthmark on his left cheek, which has become a trademark. “I was broke as f—! I didn’t have anything growing up. I was wearing whatever I had. And then…”
He was having a hard time recounting the occasion when A$AP Rocky, his mentor and frequent collaborator, brought him to New York Fashion Week this February. That’s where Rocky introduced him to Raf Simons at his debut Calvin Klein show. “I met Raf! Not even like some streetwear designer, but Raf!” Carti shook his head.
It was a crowning moment that capped off everything good that’s befallen Carti over the last few years, from signing with A$AP Worldwide (with co-signs from Drake and Kanye) to emerging as Atlanta’s next big thing to, one day last week, sitting on the 24th floor of One World Trade Center, the New York skyline laid below him.
Still only 21, Playboi Carti, born Jordan Carter, has never released a full-length project. He started rapping in earnest only about three years ago as a high schooler, and has already been featured on a handful of tracks by Gucci Mane, Lil Uzi Vert, and his A$AP Mob family. But unlike his contemporaries Uzi and Lil Yachty, who constantly churn out mixtapes and loosie singles, Carti’s musical output has been remarkably scant. Still, he boasts over half a million followers on Instagram and a fan base so rabid and obsessive that Carti’s comments section has turned into a battleground of sorts, with fans alternatively pleading for new music (“DROP A F—ING TAPE I LOVE YOU”), and berating him for never releasing (“I been waiting like 8 years for this tape. What if I die and never get to hear it?”).
“My fans try to troll me,” Carti said warily, even though he likes to playfully troll them right back. For example, he made the cover of his highly-anticipated debut project supposedly titled Cash Carti, a collage of angry fan comments. Then, last week, he threw gas on the fire with a mysterious countdown clock on his website, ticking down to Friday, April 14. Would it finally be #CartiSeason? Or was this simply another Carti ruse? Is it even an album?
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