Future is arguably one of contemporary hip-hop’s most prolific artists. The Atlanta rapper has become one of the most dominant voices in rap in the last two years. He’s released a slew of projects in near rapid succession — “Monster,” “Beast Mode,” “56 Nights,” “Dirty Sprite 2,” “What a Time to Be Alive” (with Drake), “Purple Reign” and “Evol” — in order to revive his once-destroyed image as a failing rapper.
In 2016, Future, whose real name is Nayvadius Wilburn, came onto the music scene strong and he’s looking to do the same this year. After he announced the impending release of his new album “Future” on Feb. 15, the rapper released the self-titled album two days later.
The build-up to “Future” was atypical. Instead of releasing a carefully selected batch of inescapable bangers, druggy ballads or a combination of the two, the buzz around his fourth studio album relied solely on an announcement with a link to pre-order the project on iTunes.
Although Future released an eerie video blog featuring a new song on YouTube, he didn’t use any other promotion. This is the first time listeners are going into a Future project without any idea of what to expect since his surprise release of “What A Time To Be Alive” in 2015.
Hard-hitting rap is Future’s strength, but he’s the rap equivalent of the superhero Hancock. Future isn’t what the public asked for or what they needed, but he did arrive at the right time. With the release of “Future,” the rapper’s year is just getting started.
“Future” consists of 17 songs, stands at a succinct 63 minutes and features no other rappers. Granted, fans of Future have seen this before — he’s known for releasing projects without any assistance, with the exception of producers.
The first song, “Rent Money,” is a strong introduction to the album. With samples in the background that sound like shrieks from a horror movie, and booming kicks and snares, the first track sets the thunderous sound for the rest of the record.
The production throughout “Rent Money” is lush, clear and hard-hitting. Future’s focus shines through in this track. He doesn’t mumble or slur his words, which is often the case in his music.
The third song, “Zoom,” features a rejuvenated Future over a spacey, bouncy beat. It features sounds reminiscent of his past mixtapes “Streetz Calling” and “Pluto.”
At the end of “Zoom,” on the track’s skit, Future insults rising Brooklyn rapper Desiigner and makes fun of a number of his ad-libs. Fans have often spoken about Desiigner’s striking resemblance to Future and his music, and on “Zoom,” Future did everything he could to separate himself from other rappers.
The album’s remarkable quality continues with “Draco,” the fourth song on the album with a slightly slower pace than the preceding tracks. Future’s mixed up flow placed over the futuristic, synthy instrumental is a nice addition to the album’s tracklist.
At this point in “Future,” the songs begin to sound very similar. The fifth and sixth tracks, “Super Trapper” and “POA,” are typical Future songs with surface-level lyrics and clean production, but nothing memorable. Juxtaposed nicely is the seventh song, “Mask Off.”
“Mask Off” is adorned with a pan flute sample that provides for a nice change of pace. Of all the songs on the album, “Mask Off” is certainly a highlight on the album resulting from the smooth beat works and Future’s raps.
Surprisingly, “Future” didn’t feature any singing until “High Demand.” The background vocals and the simple instrumental make the track the only one from the album with radio potential.
Another highlight on the album is the 11th track, “I’m So Groovy.” Haunting keys and a pitter-patter snare beat construct an eerie, sensual environment for Future to bring his velvety flow. The strangely fascinating line, “I’m so groovy / I got power” is truly a testament to the emotions felt in the song.
Hooks are hard to perfect, but Future managed to on “Might As Well.” A quick transition that features Auto-Tune on his otherwise clear vocals, his talk about eviction and swimming with sharks makes listeners sympathize with him. Future tells his truth on “Might As Well,” and the beat matches him so he can pour out his soul effectively.
What’s always been special about Future is his self-awareness. When people counted on him after his popular album, “Honest,” he followed up with three mixtapes that in turn dominated the entire internet. “Future” is no different. The Atlanta rapper returned with a self-titled album, more vigorous and focused than ever. Future’s run of projects that brought him to fame had one common denominator: The music’s depth was established on a veiled anguish masked by lean-induced haziness and druggy sex.
Although the album isn’t particularly meant for commercial appeal, “Future” is satisfying for his fans who want to hear slick talk, booming production, switching flows and constant boasts. This is one of Future’s best complete works. The songs flow from one to another, his rapping is more refined than ever and the production shines better too.