This article was selected as a finalist in the 2017 DC Student Arts Journalism Challenge, an annual competition designed to identify and support talented young arts writers.
Those who listen to Future generally fall into two camps; they either love him or they hate him. Critics cite “mumble rap” and monotony as reasons for their dislike while his faithful fans, myself included, just enjoy the music and can’t get enough. Regardless of your personal opinion, the Atlanta rapper has proven to be one of the most prolific, consistent, and successful rappers of this century. With ten projects released in the past three years, diehard Future fans have never been left craving a new drop. Stylistically, his lyrics constantly contrast the drug-fueled, glorified excess of his trap lifestyle with the painfully self-aware introspection of a hurting man. In terms of production, the collaboration of mainstays like Metro Boomin, Zaytoven, and 808 Mafia ensure listeners get the energetic beats they know and love. With no guest features and a stated desire to return to his roots and fans, the self-titled album, Future, cements his personal brand and legacy by remaining consistent to the styles that drove him to the top.
The project presents a uniform sound, yet still remains very good across the board, adding a collection of hits to the rapper’s massive career portfolio. With 17 tracks, it is easy to grow tired of the very similar sounds but the subtle distinctions and progressions make the project one worth listening to the end. It begins with a battle cry banger in “Rent Money”, which signals an aggressive, rough tone that continues throughout the narrative and develops a more underground feel to the heavily popularized rapper’s bars. “Good Dope” retains the heavy bass from the first track, but repetitive content makes it one to forget off the album. In “Zoom”, Future sounds awake and energetic, a return to standard Future flow, with an entertaining skit throwing gun-sound themed shade at his knockoff, Desiigner, a perfect segue into his upcoming Nobody Safe tour with Migos, Kodak Black, and Tory Lanez this summer.
With Draco, Future mixes his flows and drops some great lines, showing incredible focus and thematic references to Future’s history of womanizing, which has stirred recent drama with women like Ciara and Larsa Pippen, wife of Scottie. This song is interesting and has something special that I just don’t see on any of the other songs on the album. “Super Trapper” misses pretty badly, but “POA” picks it right back up with an all-time trap beat by Southside and Future’s self-aware claims that “[he’s] too consistent.” Just before the middle of the album, we see a nice change of pace in “Mask Off”, with the inclusion of wispy flutes and a slowed tempo, creating a very relaxing turning point and displaying Future’s intent with this album to show his true self to fans, taking his mask off. In an interview with Zane Lowe of Beats 1 radio, Future said, “I want you to hear this and be like, ‘Man he gave us all of him. He let everything out.’”
However, this glance past Future’s rough exterior doesn’t last long as he returns to tales of stunting and flexing because he’s in “High Demand.” Providing immediate contrast in “Outta Time”, “[he] can’t take no vacation, [he] can’t lose”, showing his desire to stay on top and keep rapidly producing music interacting with a sensation of running out of time. “I’m So Groovy” presents a fascinating beat combined with Cudi-esque hums, taking a different look on the power his celebrity grants him, while simultaneously giving us a song that’s just fun to listen to. A return to the self-aware, hurting side of the artist comes in “Might as Well” as Future croons about his past selling crack and “child support getting heavy”, expressing regret over past actions. Keeping with the constant contrast, “Poppin’ Tags” provides an immediate banger in the form of a textbook stunt rap, an alarming addition immediately after drowning in sorrows. The remainder of the tracks are solid, but somewhat forgettable and leave me wondering if this long-winded album would have been better released in a shorter version or as a mixtape. As the project ends on “Feds Did a Sweep”, we see a very dark finale that provides a cap to the dual nature of the album and shifts the balance decidedly in one direction.
Overall, the album is peak Future, While not containing anything as raw and emotional as “Codeine Crazy” from Monster or “Perkys Calling” from Purple Reign, we see glimpses to another side of the artist in “Might as Well” and “When I Was Broke”. Classic flows and flexes permeate the album and create a very entertaining collection of tracks. I can honestly say I liked every single song, but sadly some of the tracks get overshadowed and pushed aside due to the length of the album. True to his intent, with no guest features and a very personal focus, Future makes an honest attempt to present his whole self to fans and created a great project in the process.
Constantly toeing the line between being the name on everyone’s lips and losing his relevancy due to over-saturation, Future has carved out a massive niche in the hip-hop genre that he does not appear ready to lose anytime soon. With rumors of another album release later this week, likely more radio-focused and potentially featuring a collaboration with Chance the Rapper, titled “My Peak”, teased Tuesday on the Chicago artist’s Instagram, we might just see another extremely prolific run of projects. As this most recent release showed, you know what you’re getting from the artist, but you love it every time.
Best Song(s): Draco, Might as Well, “I’m So Groovy”
Worst Song (if I had to pick one): Super Trapper
Best Lyrics: “Feds Did a Sweep”
Best Production: “Mask Off”
Noah Hawke is a rising Sophomore student in the McDonough School of Business at Georgetown University. He is a Deputy Editor for The Guide, the arts & culture publication of The Hoya, focusing primarily on hip-hop and rap music. In his free time, Noah likes to play soccer, basketball, and attend as many concerts as possible.