Future - BEASTMODE 2 (Review)

Martin_Canine
FUTURE
BEASTMODE 2
★★★★☆

Future came a long way from exchangeable mixtapes like Streetz Calling to being one of the greatest figures of the trap movement. He had many number one albums in the US and also had a hit single with Mask Off, among others. But his greatest musical achievement isn’t a studio album, not even a commercial mixtape, it’s Purple Reign, a record he released for free to streaming and mixtape download sites. The atmosphere is so thick you can cut rich slices out of it. It’s like a snapshot of a moment of slowly driving your car through a dark and filthy alley with flickering neon lights reflecting on your windshield, while being dazed from all sorts of substances and reflecting on your life. This is the closest I can get to describing this very particular feel of Future’s music, and while said free tape has his most captivating overall package, he delivered at a frighteningly high quality in the last three years. He was okay before, but while he was simply a normal rapper back then, he mastered the task of creating endlessly blooming greenfields (or rather purplefields) of sounds since 2015. At a certain point, you just straightforward fall into a rush. Oh, and what a glorious rush it is.

BEASTMODE 2 expands on this sound and once more lets us sink into a world of codeine, self deconstruction and drowsy synths. His vocal delivery became clearer, making the lyrics more comprehensible, but it’s the same trip that he unleashed on us in the past. For some strange reason, it didn’t become tiring yet, this is probably because the musical universes Future invites us to are so imaginative and fantastic, they put us into a trance. The tape is a sequel to his 2015 record Beast Mode, although it’s questionable whether it’s really a direct follow up in terms of content, or just a continuation of his regular discography. The thing that both records most notably have in common is the close collaboration with producer Zaytoven, while on his later efforts, Southside and Metro Boomin were largely responsible for the music. No matter what record you listen to, Future’s voice and words are only have the experience. It’s the way his voice merges with the beats that makes it all so exciting.

For BEASTMODE 2, Zaytoven creates a distinctive sound carpet of soft piano loops, cut off snares and claps, and, of course, 808s. It sounds slightly less distant and more direct than the spheric and feedback heavy synth lines and strings (and of course, the flute) his other two main producers crafted for him, and comes off as more focused and less surreal as a result. This trademark production style can be heard throughout all of the album.

Lyrically, Future digs further into the saga of drugs and self-deconstruction, often at the same time. Behold this line: “Showing out in public show the real me / Pourin’ up in public, damn, I hate the real me / My mama stressin’ out, she say these drugs got me” He lets us take part in his life, which isn’t necessarily a happy one, but he tries to drown the bad aspects in expensive items and drugs, which is probably what a rich but sad man would do. “Money got me hesitant, what I got to live for? / All this fame getting terrible”. Sure, millions of people love your music, and you can buy yourself everything you want, including the freedom to never do anything else than what you love. But you also need to deal with lacking any privacy, pressure of frequently delivering material that’s satisfying to your follower and not make any mistake that will get the media to discredit you. But he also doesn’t shy away from letting himself appear in a bad light: “I leave a bitch in the cold, oh / I don't act poor no more / I left her sitting at the Loews, oh / 'Cause she wasn't touching her toes, no”.

BEASTMODE 2 is less hypnotic and more direct than most of Future’s previous records. That’s partly the work of Zaytoven, who usually produces for Migos, whose main premise is spitting hard hitting bars not melancholic meditation, but also the result of Future’s much clearer pronunciation. This causes the listener to focus more on what he has to say rather than sinking into his musical dreamscapes. It’s nowhere near a decrease in quality though. Future remains among the greatest artists the trap genre has to offer, and expanded from a pure performer and entertainer towards an introspective lyricist.

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