How Playboi Carti Emerged from the Atlanta Underground

Culture

An introvert who prefers to move in silence, Carti finds quarantine to be his natural state. “I’m always at home by myself,” he says. “I don’t really go out like that at all, unless I have to. Studio and the house. That’s it.” After living in New York and Los Angeles for a spell, the rapper returned to his native Atlanta in 2018, moving into the upscale Buckhead neighborhood with fellow rapper Iggy Azalea, with whom he had a baby boy in the spring before they split up this fall. If Carti is notoriously mum about his personal life, he’s even more secretive about his sophomore studio album, Whole Lotta Red, which is set to be released by A$AP Rocky’s label, AWGE, and has been two years in the making. Carti is evasive about the reason for the delays but reports that new music—which he describes as “alternative” and “psyched out”—will be coming this year. As far as whether fans can expect him to release the full album in 2020, Carti simply says, “We’ll see.”

Taking another sip of his dirty Sprite, Carti prefers to ruminate on what it was like to come up in the Atlanta orbit of Awful Records and its offbeat stars, including Ethereal and Father. He’d been a good student and a standout basketball player, but once he got serious about music, he found he had little time for anything else. “As I got older, I started smoking weed and I was just like, ‘Fuck school.’ I didn’t want no more basketball, none of that. But I always used to freestyle and shit,” he says. Carti rarely talked about his songs with classmates, but they eventually discovered his music on SoundCloud, and it was their validation that kept him going. “People saying they fuck with my music—that shit put a battery in my back,” he says.

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