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That comes from his trusty array of producers like Metro Boomin, Zaytoven, Southside, TM88, and Sonny Digital. These Atlanta figureheads push Future, and ditching his comfort zone of apocalyptic drug jams pays off with a robust project full of menacing hooks and memorable zingers. The message is clear: Under the Auto-Tune veil, Future is a great lyricist.
Immediate standouts include “Mask Off,” “Rent Money,” “POA,” “Draco,” “Outta Time,” “When I Was Broke,” and “Zoom”—ranked in that order. Future’s Auto-Tuned, scattershot sound is still working for the 33-year-old, born Nayvadius Wilburn.
But with so much product out there across mixtapes, albums, and collaborative duets with the likes of Drake and Gucci Mane, a few songs do echo some of his previous work. The flow on “Scrape” sounds a lot like “100it Racks” from last summer’s Esco Terrestrial mixtape; he weaves throughout the beat with an identical cadence. The production and melody on “Rent Money” sounds identical to “In Her Mouth” from the EVOL album.
But this album isn’t one to overlook. The crowd-pleasing “Mask Off” is a medium-tempo gem, sunny and playful in tone. Here a flute drapes over a classic 808 toe-tapper of an instrumental track, while Future reflects on his career journey. He recalls not having a car, and living off food stamps. Future uses words like “Percocets” and “Molly” with authoritative understanding of prescription and designer drugs; as playful, bouncy language Future can weave spell-binding raps built on these buzzwords like no one else.
Jumbled lingo is Future’s staple, after all, yet this album is probably the clearest one he’s put out. “POA” opens with the rapper enunciating each word in a triplet flow, on top of piano. He uses the four minutes to brag about his bank account and status, but it’s fast-lane cinematic. Future’s sonic world posits a paranoid Atlanta full of swirling helicopters and masked enemies—no matter where his career takes him, he’s still bound to it.
Go for a drive when you’re ready to plug this one in. You’ll want the windows down and the bass turned all the way up. With more swagger-jackers on the rap scene, this trap trailblazer has to stay relevant in a time where hit projects will jam for a few weeks and fade as quickly as they showed up. (Kanye protege and noted Future imitator Desiigner gets his just deserts on “Zoom,” where he’s made fun of in a skit for being an incoherent hack.)
We’ll be jamming Future until at least the summer.
Nia Wesley is a former Daily Dot editorial intern who has also contributed to KXAN and ABC News. She's now a digital producer for KENS-5 in San Antonio, Texas.