EDITOR’S NOTE: We’re proud to welcome our newest writer, Riceball Jones, to the PHANTOMWORK group. He and I will be trading off review duties for the foreseeable future, as 2017 promises many exciting releases. Riceball and I have different writing styles and each offer our own takes on music, and we hope you’ll appreciate the different perspectives that come as a result. -$PECTRE
Future follows up a 17-track album with another 17-tracks just a week later, proving that he is aiming to be the king of 2017. While the last album took trap back to its roots, with classic, fat 808s and juicy synths and samples, this project leans a lot more towards the R&B radio appeal area. So much so, in fact, that you would think they were made by two different artists, the only similarity between them being Future’s trademark autotune and the classic trap drum patterns.
The album opens up with “My Collection,” a perfect song to introduce the vibe of the album. The chord progression is very uncharacteristic of Future, but so is most of the production on this album. The lyrical content is what really shows us what we’re in for. The whole album is about Future “flexing on his exes,” specifically Ciara, the mother of his child. On this track, Future lets out a bitterness and sadness that was largely left untouched since his 2014 mixtape “Monster.” Of course he still talks about doing drugs and having lots of jewelry and driving big, fast cars. But he does so with a tinge of sadness that makes his life seem a little less glamorous. Future doesn’t try to evoke pity from his audience, or seem like the beta cuck most guys on the radio are now (looking at you Shawn Mendes and Charlie Puth). Future is legitimately flexing hard on his past exes, by showing them the life they’re missing. However, by the end of the song, Future has us feeling like we’re missing something.
The next track “Coming Out Strong,” is a Weeknd feature which, sonically, sounds like a leftover from when they were both recording “Low Life,” but the Weeknd always comes through with an amazing vocal performance, which was the highlight of the song. This song continues the theme of flexing on people, but this time it’s not on exes, but rather fans and the media. The artists claim that people keep on making fake stories about them and that people like to judge them when they don’t have the right to. The song may be some sort of plot for revenge as Abel says, “Lord save them,” and then on the hook says, “Take my kindness for weakness, still coming out strong,” which implies that Abel is sick and tired of people doing shit that they have no right to do. Future takes a more characteristically materialistic approach by telling all his haters what they don’t have. Cars, jewelry, and money. “I showed you a million, no videos, I opened up Bentley doors, I invented doors.”
“Lookin Exotic” opens up with an exotic synthesizer chord progression that persists throughout the whole song, but lyrically there’s not much to look at if you’re a fan of Future. On “Damage,” Future gets more up close and personal than he’s ever been in years. He tells tales of having his life damaged and ruined by his addiction to codeine cough syrup and having his heart broken by women. Despite acknowledging the damages of his rapper lifestyle, Future still wants to continue doing what he does without women coming and “fucking shit up.” You know I’m out here getting it baby, Stop trying to fuck my life up, Ball hard, and I’m still balling, Stop trying to fuck my life up” But upon further analysis, could this be a call for help from Future? Could this be a message to himself? Future looking in the mirror and saying to himself, “Stop trying to fuck your own life up.” Who knows.
“Use Me” shows Future telling a tale of love rather than lust, telling the girl to “Use me what you want me for.” It’s a sensitive side of Future that I’ve personally never seen before. A very atmospheric track instrumentally, which mirrors the vibe Future is going for lyrically. It really makes you wish Future could stay on topic and stop talking about cars and jewelry for one minute, but then again, that wouldn’t be Future. “Incredible” is an incredible song purely for its production. It opens up with a bassline that you would hear in any pop radio song nowadays. But it’s not that. It’s a Future song, which makes listening to it that much more pleasurable. The snap sound that comes in for the first minute as a substitute for the snare or the clap makes me feel complete. This is probably the most uplifting song any trap artist has made since Summer Songs 2. The level of positivity in this song is really something to behold. From the first verse “I was havin’ trust issues, But I’ve been havin’ way better luck since you” to the hook of “In-in-incredible” the song is really an experience for any fan of Future.
At this point it’s time to address the issue of the filler tracks on the album. I could take about five tracks off the album and it would be a lot better. This doesn’t mean those five songs are bad, but that they’re just not nearly as good as the rest of them. Those songs would be “Testify” “Keep Quiet” “Turn On Me” “Neva Missa Lost” and “Selfish” featuring Rihanna, which I want to talk about now. I know I praise Future a lot for showing a pop, R&B, radio-friendly side of himself, but this is just too much. The song is incredibly boring. It’s mainly vocals and a snap. Future’s autotune needs a strong instrumental to back it up. The hook sounds really nice because of the blend of Future’s and Rihanna’s voices over some interesting chords. Besides that, Rihanna’s performance is pretty lackluster, as was most of her content over the past two years. Most of the song is skip worthy. I wish it was all just the hook being repeated over and over again. Overall, I’d recommend this LP to fans of Future, or as an introduction for people who really want to get into his work.