Not all too surprisingly, you don't hear much Future being bumped in the streets of my home town. While the northern Jersey suburb may be lacking in the trap anthem department, I still have retained a strange affiliation towards the Atlanta rapper and his near inaudible wordplay. I'm a rugby player, and while it may contend with hockey for the title of whitest sport, Future plays an important part in my pre game traditions. The Friday before a match, I get my hair put in cornrows (the most efficient way of keeping the hair out of my face) and I put on my game night playlist. The most obscure mixture of hood bangers, traditional Greek music, and gospel tracks, this is the only playlist I will have on all weekend. Hands down, the star artist of this playlist is Future.
I'm not saying that I'm the biggest fan of his work or that this is even my particularly favorite style of rap, I'm just saying I'm familiar with the trap scene and more than familiar with how well it can pump you up and get you moving: a genre nearly completely dominated by his truly. A name synonymous with tough beats and a blatant hood pride, Nayvadius DeMun Wilburn has been the go to artist for both cruising around the street and setting the scene for any particular strip club atmosphere you may be going for.
Future's been a busy man, his sophomore album Honest has received a fair amount of backlash since its 2014 release and he's done all he can to remedy the situation. The solution: don't complicate things and stick to what he's good at. It may seem a bit unfair to criticize an artist for attempting to develop his style and provide a wider emotional selection of subject matter, but that's not what his fans want. His last album seemed to be pulled in too many directions and didn't have the same unrelenting drive of his previous work, it didn't provide an entirely authentic gang banger persona. Thanks to a very clarifying epilogue, I can confidently say that Future is more than happy to return to his anthemic roots. This is what he's good at, and while it may sound like the music a grandpa can dismiss an entire generation based off of, Dirty Sprite 2 is here to provide the masses in the streets with what they want.
Just an incredible selection of extremely well produced tracks with a slew of gang and lean references, this sequel to the 2011 Dirty Sprite mixtape truly does represent Future's complete musical and mental return to his roots. It's a dark, unforgiving album with some true sincerity behind the hard hitting basses. It very much so feels like he is at home here, recognizing his place in the music business and striving to be the best at what it is that he does. Future makes hood, trap records, and he's damn good at it; as he puts it, he's "found the formula."
Unfortunately, for the not so street minded person, that formula may sound like a universal dumbing down of the music business. With track titles like "Rich $ex," "Fuck Up Some Commas," and "Blood On The Money" the album doesn't look to be taken seriously from the start. To the unfamiliar listener, it's easy to expect an "it all sounds the same" comment, or a "I cant even understand what he's saying." These same people will hear this as an overly aggressive album with insignificant themes and no real purpose. Even if they can recognize the production talent at hand and clever use of unique instrumentation with some genuinely complex beats, they see it as a waste of hard work. If you are this person, I'm not talking to you.
I'm talking to the fans that recognize what it is that this music does and what it stands for. I'm talking to the people that recognize the sound of a man who has an unrivaled sense of hometown pride, thankful for both the hard times that helped him grow and his success that has allowed him to escape these troubles. These are the people that listen to Future, and they can tell you that this is the sound that they know and love.
Future brings it all. Mean, near industrial tracks like "I Serve The Base" bump along next to the more radio friendly "Where Ya At" with its crisp beat and fitting Drake feature. "Slave Master" keeps the beat low and moody so as not to hide Future's lazy but quick flow and highlight his particular talents as a singer. All of the tracks have enough diversity as to not sound repetitive to a fan, but still retain that clear Future sound thanks to some common themes. An undeniable sense of hood pride and love for Future's crew is present throughout all tracks, along with the very distinguishable idea of cashing out after years of hustling. These are the themes that many will want to criticize, but this is what it's all about. Throw up a middle finger to those who don't get it, and keep moving along. There's even a couple tracks on the record like "The Percocet & Stripper Joint" that express a much more sentimental and self loathing Future, but still hold that trap mindset as the name would imply.
It's pretty obvious to say that this album isn't for everyone, you'll know if it's not for you ten seconds into the first track. However, I do suggest that anybody who can take the time to listen to the album's 25 minute epilogue do so. A compilation of studio sessions, live shows, and interviews, Future takes the time to let us know about everything that's going on in his head. It's sort of a way to answer any questions about the album, and it's much appreciated. It may even shed some light on the whole genre for those that might not quite get it, "I know they want the ratchet shit. I gotta say some off the wall shit to get people attention It's a motivational album. I want people to feel like they want to fuck up some comma, even if they aint got it." He touches on where he's at with his life, his new satisfaction with himself and his thoughts on his breakup with ex-fiancee Ciara. It might have been nice to see some more of this touched upon in a new fashion within a track, but it's sufficient to at least have it here. It may not be an album I'll have on in the background all too often, but most certainly a couple of these tracks will be making it onto my cornrows and rugby playlist.