Is Playboi Carti Hip-Hop's New Punk Icon?
With fans eagerly awaiting the release of Playboi Carti's Christmas day album Whole Lotta Red, the Atlanta rapper decided to share the album artwork and new merch to accompany it, with it having a strong cultural reference to Pop Punk and Gothic culture, that has contributed to a new type of aesthetic that is popular in other modern rappers such as Lil Uzi Vert or Young Thug. The cover art drew direct inspiration from Slash Magazine, an L.A Punk magazine that was one to bring the scene into the spotlight. The photos below show two Slash copies from 1977 and the furthest right, Playboi Carti's redesign by Art Dealer in 2020.
People familliar with Playboi Carti's music would know that this isn't the first time that he has drawn inspiration from Pop Punk influences. With the cover of his previous 2018 album Die Lit showing the rapper stage diving into a crowd which was a reference to a photo that was taken of the British Punk band Charged GBH. With his photographer Nick Walker for the Die Lit cover saying how Playboi Carti's music goes against the grain, a lot like Punk music used to back in the day, Carti is into all sorts of different music so it was easy to pair the two aesthetics. As Walker used to listen to a lot of Punk and went to a lot of shows when he was younger, he was sure that they could execute a great photo in an authentic way. They played Punk music really loud and Carti threw himself into the air until they captured the perfect image to match the title.
With Carti being described as a 'modern day punk icon' by various outlets, he continues to let this aesthetic bleed into his merch which is heavily adorned with pentacles or upside-down crosses. However some Punk fans have questioned whether Carti is simply using their style to sell or borrowing their aesthetic that creates his own concept of what modern Punk looks like. When it comes to style and characterising himself, Carti has mentioned that he enjoys just being himself and going against rules. As he mentioned once in Dazed Magazine,"I feel like in this world that we live in, people don’t know what you’re doing until you do it. You know what I’m saying? If you just express yourself more, everybody else will follow. That’s what I’m trying to do."
Playboi Carti however, has described himself as a modern day rockstar while dipping into both Punk and Hip-Hop cultures, as one part of his aesthetic, style and portrayal of himself online is very much Punk anarchist. His music is opposite to that, being extremely Rap, Trap and mumble rap based. With the conjunction of the two creating an unusual mix that has been attactive to the younger generation Z, Playboi Carti does indeed show off his unhinged style but is also unafraid to truly exhibit his exuberant way of life.
Whole Lotta Red is out on December 25th 2020.