Future’s debut album, Pluto, was a showcase of genre-bending potential. His sophomore effort, Honest, was an argument for that potential being overestimated. Instead of being Future’s coronation, it symbolized major labels’ plunder of creativity. “Move That Dope” is still a highlight, but many would rather forget the lasting image of Future creeping on the beach with Kanye West.
Future’s style isn’t inelastic, though. Following what many saw as a disappointment, the Atlanta rapper and singer started baring his teeth — rejecting romantic odes for scorned fuck-offs (on “Throw Away”: “Go on, fuck that nigga, get it over with”), motivational anthems (“Fuck Up Some Commas” and “Trap Niggas”), and leaner, more physical production. The result was an impressive three-mixtape run (Monster, Beast Mode, and 56 Nights), and now Future’s third album, DS2, is the crown jewel of his creative peak.
DS2, aka Dirty Sprite 2, the sequel to Future’s breakthrough 2011 mixtape, was clearly put out to capitalize on the hype, which could lead to the suspicion that it was cobbled together. It wasn’t. The production is bass-riding astral-gazing that’s less Beast Mode and more 56 Nights psychedelia. Future’s producers (including Metro Boomin, Southside, and Zaytoven) mesh fluidly here, and the change in production credits is only immediately discernible with the signature drops (Southside’s Kill Bill siren is a small joy in itself).
Future’s presence is notably populist here, but he isn’t stretching to appease. After starting off with something as auspicious as “I just fucked your bitch in some Gucci flip-flops,” he maximizes his voice-as-instrument style to palatable effect. He’s blowing money with carnival glee amidst whizzing sonics on “Blow a Bag”, and he’s causing collateral damage in Atlanta strip clubs with “Freak Hoe” (a dystopian “Back That Azz Up”).
Despite initial skepticism, the more than 125,000 units DS2 is predicted to sell in its first week shows #FutureHive is a very real thing. DS2 works when Future, who fancies himself as the streets’ motivator, embraces that sort of mythology. It’s something he perfected with “Trap Niggas”: The come-up is a communal one. On “Slave Master”, Future moves from trap spaghetti western melancholy to chanting the name of A$AP Yams (whose last tweet before he passed away was a reference to “Codeine Crazy”). “Rich $ex” could’ve been another of Future’s more misogynist numbers. Instead, we get sexual equality within Metro Boomin and Southside’s spacial bacchanal: We’re both wearing Rollies, now let’s join our bodies within our shared wealth.
On each of the highlights, Future uses his command of melody to transform lines into slogans. DS2 is his strongest campaign yet, and it’s the first time a new Future album has met all expectations.
Essential Tracks: “Blow a Bag”, “Rich $ex”, and “Lil One”