After having a phenomenaly huge year of success in 2015 (DS2, Beast Mode, 56 Nights, and What a Time to Be Alive with Drake), it appeared that Future had secured his spot as one of rap’s hottest stars, transcending the label of “hype rapper” that many had placed him under. With such high levels of exposure and output, it seemed only natural, from the standpoint of artistic progression, that he take it easy in 2016 and regain some composure. This turned out to be the case, considering we haven’t seen much of him, save some random videos or features, since last February’s EVOL.
Such an absence has created a void, one that can only be filled by the mutterings and moans of Future Hendrix, no matter how many rappers try to imitate his signature sound. That void fell into oblivion on Valentine’s Day, as the man himself announced a surprise album release coming this Friday. Taking the self-titled route, the new album will contain 17 tracks and no features. (This is according to the tracklist that appears on iTunes. Of course, Fewt could be following the trend of not listing guest appearances and letting fans take it all in with no expectations). With such little forewarning and so little known about it, hip-hop fans are in a flurry to get their hands on the new material.
To give the culture a bit of background on the album, Future recently sat down with Zane Lowe in a new interview set to air on February 16th on Beats 1 Radio. Prior to the full interview being released, Beats 1 shared a clip in which the rapper talks about his forthcoming sound. “I just feel like I want to go back to being a more underground [rapper]. Just reconnecting with the fans, just more hands-on, being back with my fans“. Immediately upon hearing this, I was hit with a wave of confusion. What exactly does he mean by saying he wants to “go back to being more underground”? It seemed shocking, coming from someone who created a project with arguably the only rapper in the world bigger than himself and pointed out that, wow, what a time it was to witness such a monumental event happen in rap!
— Beats 1 (@Beats1) February 15, 2017
At this point in his career, it’d be nearly impossible for Future to return to being a king of the underground. His star power and influence is too heavy, leading nearly every song he releases to the charts. If taking a year-long hiatus only to return with a surprise project was his way of lessening that, it’s not working.
Of course, he could mean in terms of sound. DS2 was praised for it’s absolute refusal to adhere to any pop sensibilities or cultural trends. It was straight up street music, full of brooding rhymthmic drones that carried you into a dizzy drug-induced daze. In doing so, it brought such a sound to the mainstream, allowing other artists to latch on and run with it in their own watered-down manner. Because of this, the “Future style” is everywhere, and he wants to remove himself from it to maintain his originality. I’m hoping that, in saying he wants to return to the “underground”, he means he wants to uproot his signature style, take it all back to some basics, and change the game all over again with a new and unique flair only he can provide. This is the only explanation that makes sense for what he says! Future has become one of the few rap fixtures that have a complete strangle-hold on the culture, and to relinquish that would be unfortunate, if only to his hoardes of fans.
Taking a look at the producers set to appear on the new album, we see a lot of similar faces compared to other Future projects: 808 Mafia, Zaytoven, Metro Boomin, and more. With their help, Future the album will have Future the rapper breaking new ground and revealing a whole new aspect of his persona. He’s sick of people jacking his sound, and by completely twisting that into something new and unexpected, we’ll be looking at a progression that’s unmatched in his career. He’s looking to take back the eyes and ears of the culture, and nobody’s safe.