Top 5 Takeaways from 2 Future Albums in 2 Weeks
Future just released back to back #1 albums (Future and HNDRXX). I wanted to provide five things to think about as you digest this mass of content. Are these in order of importance?
Don’t be a nerd. No one cares.
- Who is Dre Moon?
Dre Moon is 3 for 3 on HNDRXX (Solo, Incredible, and Hallucinating) with some of my absolute favorite songs. I clicked on his Wikipedia page and it says he wrote Drunk In Love and produced a bunch of beloved Drake songs (off Nothing Was The Same). He also produced I Be U, I’ll Be Yours, and Side Effects off Future’s Honest album(which I think is underrated). I am very glad Future has a relationship with Dre Moon and apparently more people should. He provides a rich sound, a large musical world that never seems crowded.
2. Nothing Future Does is haphazard
Future puts out a lot of music. Even Young Thug told him he should slow down. At times, Future has released bad albums and tastemakers have pronounced his run over only to be embarrassed by the success that followed. Future is like Gucci Mane in that he will release a ton of content and 70% of it is great but that thirty percent is still a lot of bad music and in this fickle age it always seems like he is close to falling off.
3.You can be like Future but you cannot be Future
Future just released 34 songs in two weeks and both albums went number one. Be careful about going big picture and turning to your friends with a simple “this is how things are now,” explanation. This is not how things are for Kendrick or Wale etc etc. Future works better loose and in a zone. If you think it’s easy and your just going to autotune your voice and shout “Content! Content! Content!” you won’t be Future. Desiigner is promising but he is not Future. Future is not mumble rap. Future is really vividly articulating his emotional state of mind like a blockbuster movie. On HNDRXX especially you can hear every word he says.
4. Previously Future’s beef with Ciara has been ugly but now that ugly is terrifying
The Future mixtape Project E.T. made me unhappy. As good as anything on there was that Juice song Future did about killing Ciara was no Bueno. This isn’t a double racial standard. I didn’t like it when Marshall Mathers did the killing my ex songs. HNDRXX takes the anguish Future feels about the relationship and takes it to new emotional heights. Testify never comes right out and declares her as subject matter but it’s mad creepy. As he sings “Anything we go through is a test of times. Can you be the one who loves me all the time?” my hairs stood up on end and then the song ends with him hauntingly repeating “confess your love for me…testify” as his voice fades out. The scariest Ciara moment is CLEARLY My Collection. A superbly disturbing analysis of the mind state a man has after a broken relationship. If you’re looking for TMI moments they are plentiful from crooning “this codeine ain’t got nothin’ to do with my little child!” “She told me she was an angel, she F*&#ed two rappers and three sangers.” The hook is paralyzingly gross without any swearing “…even if I hit you once you part of my collection.” The diseased mind that holds these women in some sort of mental art museum is something Future consciously wanted to observe. It’s clear that part of this is in him and part of this is an artist analyzing the emotions that could happen if he doesn’t let go. The complexity of his anger is so marvelously rendered you can’t be mad. It’s terrifying but the beautiful kind.
5. Future is bigger than trap
Think of it the same way we do Mike Will Made It. When Trap was at its white hottest he was lacing Gucci Mane and giving the genre definition (Metro Boomin certainly took the baton and ran) and now you see his production credits in The Grammys Song of The Year category because he produced Beyoncé’s biggest hit off her new album Lemonade. Future still makes rough and tumble Trap, just listen to Scrape or Draco on the self-titled album, but he smashes pop songs as well. Selfish is the duet with Rihanna which comes to mind first but Incredible is a friendly radio hit. Aside from pop songs HNDRXX has one song with vocals from Mayer Hawthorne and production by Jake One (Lookin’ Exotic). Anyone predict that collaboration? He works with DJ Mustard and Detail for that finger snapping ratchet movement and he knocks it all out of the park. This is what Mike Will taught us about the process. Just because Future started in Trap and elevated it, doesn’t mean that is his limitation. He’s incredibly durable and bubbling over creatively.
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Tagged Atlanta hip hop, best albums of 2017, Ciara, Codeine, Detail, DJ Mustard, Drake, Dre Moon, Freeband Gang, future, Future album, Gucci Mane, HNDRXX, Lemonade, mike will made it, Rihanna, Trap
Song of The Year-Like A Rockstar by Kodie Shane featuring Saucy Longwe produced by Matty P, Stonii Tha Melody God & D. Clax
Kodie Shane’s new mixtape is called Big Trouble Little Jupiter and it is a great example of why Atlanta WINS. Atlanta is the epicenter of weird (in my opinion the Bay Area is right up there as well). If Kodie Shane dropped a slamming anthem like this in NY the media would start debating whether it stacked up to old EPMD singles or whether this is even rap. What is real hip hop? Yuck.
This hook is fantastic, the beat pounds and leads into a guitar solo. Big Trouble Little Jupiter has 10 songs and they are all experiments. Your Side ventures into that 90’s R &B sound, Be With or Without is a lush break up song over a tough as jerky trap beat. Big Trouble Little Jupiter will look right at your preconceptions and shout WHO CARES. It is rap, it is singing, it is gorgeous, it is ugly.
If you read The Fader article about her it will not surprise you to hear that Shane is aligned with Yachty and the manager of The Migos. Those are all smart oddballs and it is quite apparent listening to Like A Rockstar that Kodie knows how to throw her voice where it is best needed. In this case it is tense and brazen in other places it is smooth and goes down like hot cocoa on a sore throat (how is this my reference? I am so old. So very old.). It is refreshing that we live in a hip hop culture that nurtures an artist like Kodie Shane because I shudder to think how many my generation left behind keeping the sound “pure”.
stream or download Big Trouble Little Jupiter:
Mixtape Review-1017 Vs. The World by Gucci Mane & Lil Uzi Vert
Gucci Mane is the Hunter S Thompson of hip hop. While I love Hunter I have never done drugs so I have very few people I can actually share that love with. People get swept up in the drugs and the Ice Cream Cone and forget about Gucci’s craft. Ever since Gucci was released the end of May, he has been laser sharp and out to prove a point. It’s a credit to Lil Uzi Vert that he is able to reach the bar Gucci sets on 1017 Vs. The World.
You know that no one is sleepwalking from the first song. Changed My Phone is audacious and loud and brash. Lil Uzi handles the chorus with intent for you to sing along while Gucci threatens to bury Nas at the bottom of the ocean with the manatees. C Note is the man behind the first two songs and they fit the classically melodic follow the bouncing ball flow but at least they are snarling and bass driven enough to be fun. Too much trap ends up a depressed drug stupor.
The reason I had a hard time getting into Lil Uzi Vert’s career ascension was that his melodic flow is so natural I missed the fact that he was still spitting with impressive technique. While Gucci drops the most rewindable verse of the mixtape on Blonde Brigitte featuring “My ex keep going down memory lane like Minnie Rip-er-ton ho!” Uzi throws down two minutes and twenty seconds in. His confidence level and sensational ability to make everything singable give him a rightful place wherever he wants. I am by no means framing this as a passing-the-torch thing Uzi is not the next Gucci but he very well could be the next Young Scooter.
The knock on 1017 Vs The World is the same on all top tier trap related mixtapes. While a top tier rapper can take risks when he gets enough power (see Kanye West, Kendrick, etc) top tier trap rappers are beholden to the same stable of producers. The same way I can’t eat nothing but pizza or I’ll die I can’t listen to toxic levels of Zaytoven(good thing this project is only 7 songs 2 by Zaytoven).Threesome is a paint by numbers Zaytoven beat. This is the kind of minimal off-key stuff he has gigabytes of hanging around. I yearn for something to change (this is probably why Mike Will Made It is doing more pop stuff to challenge himself).
The best beat is In ’04 by DP Beatz which drops out and charges back in to accentuate Vert’s best performance. Now that Gucci is out he has a rumored album with everyone but Kanye is the one I want for Gucci. I want this, semi-cleaned up, wild eyed wordsmith over the lavish sonic tapestry of Ye’s universe. Listen to 1017 Vs. The World and I think you’ll agree.
Stream or download 1017 Vs. The World below:
Song of The Year-Winner$ by Scotty ATL featuring Cyhi The Prince produced by Toomp
If someone asked me (no one ever asks me questions this specific) who the next hip hop mega-star from Atlanta will be I would answer Scotty ATL. I’m not saying he’s going to be a name; he’s already a name for people who love hip hop (hasn’t released a subpar project in YEARS). I think he’s heading for “my grandmother knows who he is” status. Winner$ is a great example of why he is that name for me. He just doesn’t ever waste an opportunity.
Here he gets a beat from the production architect of the trap sound (Toomp is so damn slept on) and a fire breathing game changer of a guest verse from the rap machine Cyhi The Prince (If you like what Kanye has been doing just grab as much Cyhi as you can get) and the two forge an incredible melody they never break out of with a hook so gorgeous you could just put the song on repeat.
This comes off of Scotty ATL’s mixtape EP Home Sick which is absolutely great. In five songs he shows that he can do the languid mumble hop that dominates the radio (Let’s Go Swim) give you classic trap(Plug on The Low featuring OJ Da Juiceman) and strip all that away to give you his heart in a show stopping way (My Mind Lately).
Winner$ is a great example of why Scotty wins. He always gets the very best out of his collaborators without giving the outward impression that he is trying to sink their battleship. He’s able to ramp up his sound while maintaining its earnestness. Home Sick is stadium rap but it’s still just Scotty with no pretentious genre-shifting airs or faux depression. I’d rather listen to Winner$ than Ultralight Beam but I like my sh_t mean any-damn-way.
Worst Song of The Year-Juice by Future
Future released his new mixtape Project E.T. it’s a DJ Esco mixtape but it’s obviously Future. Stereogum and Pitchfork (& others) are saying that Future sounds tired. This is code. He doesn’t actually sound like he needs to catch 8 more hours under silk sheets or take a day to himself on the couch with ice cream and romantic comedies to recharge. He’s just been hitting the same two topics way too hard. 1. Drugs 2. His hatred of Ciara. As mighty as DS2 was it was pretty much those two topics for eighteen songs.
I actually like Project E.T. more than others, it has bangers and less depressing content (in spots) and a hall of fame Juicy J feature but I have a hard time returning for repeat listens knowing that Juice is sitting right there waiting for me. The song starts with the O.J. Simpson verdict being read. He references O.J. Simpson and murder in a creepy sing song before flat out saying “Trying to F*** my baby mama dog what’s up with you? You gon’ make me get the heat, I’m pullin’ up on you.” WHAT?! You’re bragging about sex with hordes of women you have no regard for but you are going to shoot anyone Ciara has sex with? Ciara is supposed to curl up and cease to exist? Look, I can totally digest an album where Future owns being a sh__y person but I can’t do four, five or six of them. These things have a shelf life. You loved the movie Dumb and Dumber but if that was a TV show…how much of it could you have really done? When is the last time you rewatched old Beavis & Butthead?
Morally the song Juice is brutally abhorrent. Ciara has done a lot for music and deserves respect. It’s sickening when a successful rapper turns his anger away from his real challenges (industry competition) to the women who desire and like him or used to. Women get picked on in rap too damn much and while Future had a sloppy divorce and deserves to be able to discuss it, Juice is not a song that a grown up makes.
Sonically the song Juice is tedious to its bones. This isn’t Eminem-Kim this is Eminem Relapse. The same way Em slipped back into that stupid serial killer character to cover up for the fact that he was in an artistically unsure place, Juice is a great way to divert away from reality. Future is not going to kill Ciara and he’s got to deal with life as it is, he could use his music as a way to deal with that. He doesn’t and were all kind of tired of him missing the obvious stuff that needs talking about.
Future isn’t tired.
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Tagged Atl, Atlanta hip hop, Ciara, DJ Esco, Eminem, future, Juice, mixtape review, O.J. Simpson, Project E.T., Song Review, Southern Hip Hop
Throwback Thursday-Lost Ya’ll Mind by Kilo Ali
Netflix has a great documentary on Dungeon Family production team Organized Noize(The Art of Organized Noize) and its full of great old school southern rap name drops. I’ve been fascinated because because it feels like southern rap history is left to be the least explored outside of the south. Lots of us know every inch of 80’s east coast rap or 90’s west coast rap but if you hit the right Witchdoctor album you’ll be flabbergasted. One of the names dropped in a serious way, referenced as the heart of the sound, was Kilo Ali. I knew that I knew that name.
I checked out Kilo Ali’s 1997 Organized Bass album and had the strangest flashbacks. I’ve never owned this but I’ve heard every song on it nine or ten times. I was in the Army stationed in Fort Hood Texas at a time when DJ Screw was dominant. Al was in charge of showing me the ropes of southern rap when I had no footing in it. He was from East Point Atlanta, always got the important music six months before anyone else. He swore by Organized Bass; played it constantly while I crossed my arms and told him it sucked.
Organized Bass does Miami bass and mixes it with gospel, playful sex, discussions of racism, and religion. Lost Ya’ll Mind is the perfect example. I know the reason I missed it then. The blend was not just too unique but far too effortless. Back then my favorite emcees were people I watched strain for greatness. Kilo Ali is always saying something but he never loses his love of the melody, his grasp of the beat. People will dance to this! Every style of rap has a weird slept on classic that defines the very characteristics of its existence and the same way D.O.C.’s album No One Can Do It Better is west coast lyricism in a nutshell Organized Bass is the south. When he says “Money and clothes, and beamers and vogues, I’d rather go to heaven than any of those” I can still hear Al singing along. Getting the last laugh.
Mixtape Review-The Cooligan by Scotty ATL
Being cool has nothing to do with style or taste. The icon of cool for a lot of Americans was Fonz on Happy Days but stylistically he wasn’t cool at all. He was set in the forties during the sixties; he looked silly to that audience. What made him cool was trust and reliability. You could always count on Fonz not to dress cool or act cool but to be cool. This is the definition of cool and the mission statement for Scotty ATL’s new mixtape The Cooligan. He wants you to know that not only has he gotten progressively better (this mixtape has some real storytelling happening: see Three Steps Forward) but you can always count on him to be heading in the right direction.
It’s no accident that Killer Mike always shouts out Scotty as a “who’s next” dude. The Cooligan gives you the best version of any kind of song you could like. If you’re a Future/Drake sing-rap guy just load up Neva Switch Up where he spits and sings at top notch levels over a 40-esque piano based beat that KE On The Track could have gotten placed on Drake’s Take Care. Scotty sounds perfectly reasonable next to two of my hero’s, 8 Ball & Devin The Dude, on the epic sex brag song I Needs Mine. Unlike previous projects he doesn’t have to rely on the genius of DJ Burn One, only produces two tracks, and it’s not because the relationship has frayed. Scotty now has more options than ever. Legions of fans are all new and just hearing him for the first time.
The running conversation with a beautiful female voice throughout the mixtape, about giving up the dream and moving on, about people’s faith in you being tested…is a big part of who Scotty is. The last song is Neva Fall Off and Scotty is still talking about family and people around him changing, the world around him switching from poverty to wealth and after all that elaboration he wraps those fears up neatly “they gave me reason and motivation to murder that @$$ be the man in my city and stack a bowl of that cash”. Scotty’s determination is not grim, he doesn’t stew in the negative sides of situations; he announces them and predicts their defeat. Maybe that’s why he gets such great guest verses from people. His reliability stabilizes the sometimes divergent talents of B.O.B on Fantasies and creates the comfort needed to get the very best Cyhi The Prince verse on Ni**a Concentrate. I need to talk about that song for a second. It might be one of the year’s very best collaborations. M16 laces a warm beat with looped background soul cooing and piano keys moving at the right upbeat Bill Withers pace. Cyhi’s verse is funny and personable and charming while Scotty’s (that come before it) is 100% heartfelt. When Scotty says “Everybody actin’ like they trappin'” you know it’s not general (by the tenor of his voice) that he tastes the names on the tip of his tongue but it wouldn’t be cool to say them. So he doesn’t.
If you need a succinct explanation of why and how Scotty will take over the world I only need two words. Speed Up. The song features no one and is an absolute smash hit, gets me in trouble at work for how excited I am under my headphones, produced by Black Metaphor. Scotty nails a perfect chorus, stays on beat and owns every inch of it. It’s a song Gucci Mane couldn’t have made. A lot of the drudging dark trap slithers by and doesn’t have an anthem gear. A lot of anthem level hip hop is as cheesy as in flight movie romantic comedy. Speed Up moves like lightning with its chest out, carrying authority and you know what? It’s still cool.
stream or download The Cooligan below:
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Tagged 2015 mixtapes, Atlanta hip hop, B.O.B., Burn One Collective, Cyhi The Prince, datpiff, Dj Burn One, Happy Days, mixtape review, Scotty ATL, The Cooligan, The Fonz