A businessman once rapped “Ya reign on top was shorter than leprechauns” talking about his competition. The landscape of hip-hop has changed dynamically over the last decade. We cycle through trends faster than a spinning rim at a stoplight (double entendre, don’t even ask me how). Hip-hop will see an artist rise to the top and fall to obscurity in no less than 18 months. The churn and burn nature that we’ve created as fans is toxic for artist development as we only celebrate established names.
At one point Future was going to fall into this category of trendy rappers who fell off. He became polarizing in rap debates with no middle ground: you either loved his sound or thought he was gargling marbles in the studio. He rose to stardom with Pluto and was written off for Honest two years later. Just as Future was about to get the 10 count, he rose from the canvas and battled back. We witnessed him evolve with the help of DJ Esco and Metro Boomin. His run of mixtapes from Monster through DS2 is compared to Lil’ Wayne’s mixtape run in the mid-2000s as one of the best ever.
Artist evolution is difficult to achieve due to fans. If you begin to experiment with different styles you’re labeled a sellout but if you keep repeating your sound you’re “getting stale”. Fans are fickle and we don’t know what we want. Future’s self titled album borders the line of evolution while still pleasing his contemporary fan base. Future starts off catering to his die hard fans with ‘Rent Money’, a record produced by DJ Khaled, Chef Tate, & The Beat Bullies. This is vintage Future at his finest, rapping about having sex with all of our girlfriends while being as disrespectful as possible (“I just lit my wrist up, I need some more attention”). He even throws jabs at Scottie Pippen near the end of the song: “I make the blogs with ya b***h cause I’m ruthless” and “I just slam dunked ya b***h hall of fame” to be exact. Pippen isn’t the only one to catch strays as the skit at the end of ‘Draco’ targets an artist that has made a living biting Future’s style (Desiigner) and a trio of rappers from Atlanta that are hot right now (Migos).
If you’re new to Future’s music it can be difficult to experience his lyrics because the majority of his music sounds like it’s made for a party. The first half of the album feels as if Future is fine doing this type of music; most of the production runs together and it’s tiresome. Just when you think Future has been hitting the B button to stop evolving into his next form (Pokemon for the win) he takes it to the next level starting with ‘High Demand’. The production style changes and we get more of an inside look to Future. The next string of songs are all like this with Future pouring his heart out in regret. ‘Outta Time’ is a good example of this with its second verse: “I’m gettin’ frustrated and all for us/You see I bought the Bentley truck for us/I put in some hours every single night…f****d on the girls, n***a more than twice”. Not to make excuses for him but it’s evident Future’s feeling remorse for his bad decisions as he covers up his emotions with buying jewelry at the end of the song.
Records like ‘Scrape’, ‘I’m so Groovy’, and ‘When I Was Broke’ are all great looks inside Future’s soul and help tell the story of a man who went from selling drugs (from as early as Snoop’s Doggystyle album according to ‘Might as Well’) to having it all. Future is a fun album but it suffers from a bloated tracklist, mainly due to the first half all sounding like a thirty minute song. The skits are infrequent and don’t add much value to the album but they’re fun to hear if you’re listening in full. No matter if you like sad and introspective Future, the party version, or the disrespectful version, there is enough for new and old fans alike on Future. It’s going to be another big year for the ATLien and it looks like his reign at the top is going to be a lot longer than many expected.
Repeatable: ‘Rent Money’, ‘Scrape’, ‘I’m so Groovy’, ‘When I Was Broke’
Skippable: ‘Good Dope’, ‘Draco’, ‘Massage In My Room’
By Joe Coad