Future gets dismissed way too easily for being a “turn up” rapper. Which he is. But if you are just listening to tracks like “Stick Talk” or “Fuck Up Some Commas” in a club, you will almost certainly not catch any of the deeper, lyrical content that lies within. This is a fact the he recognizes: “Run it back, you hear my intellect”.
Nayvadius Cash (a name that was surely always destined for greatness) has, in his own idiosyncratic manner, ripped up the rule book of most hip-hop conventions and brought his style of “trap-rap” into the mainstream. He stays persistently hungry in his output and touring, evidenced with his latest, self-titled studio album – his fifth, containing not a single feature, alongside his other twelve(!) mixtapes – dropping today, before he heads out on his “Nobody Safe” tour with Migos, Tory Lanez and Kodak Black.
He’s also one of the most low-key innovative and complex rappers of the modern era, despite seeming, on a surface level at least, anything but. His ex, Ciara, brought out the best and worst in him, as does the elixir of drugs he still consumes. He raps about police brutality, drug addiction and past relationships in an infectiously syrupy manner that hits you right in your feels.
Future is as euphoric as he is cataclysmic, and that is, in essence, what makes him such a compelling rapper. Alongside all the braggadocio and dismissiveness in caring about relationships, spending money or his general health, there’s another side to him which his true fans know is his best: Emotional Future. It’s when he’s in this mode that his greatest – yet most overlooked – work is found.
Sure, he may have an album with no features, but to celebrate the Atlanta icon’s most recent album, Future, a feature is what he’s getting from us. This is a celebration of Future’s 14 Most Emotional Tracks:
Married To The Game
Arguably the most emotional beat Future has ever crooned on, the lyrical content of the song isn’t all that emotional. The juxtaposition between being in the strip club and needing his Percocets epitomizes Future’s lifestyle, and no matter your musical taste, you’re bound to feel some type of way when he moans, “I just need a whole lot of drugs in my system” as the chord pattern in this choice cut descends.
Kno The Meaning
Alongside the “fuck the police” ethos he spouts in honor of his boy DJ Esco getting sent to jail, “Best thing I ever did was fall out of love” is a shocking bar that represents Future at his most harsh and raw. But his mumbled drawls as the track fades out and solemn piano plays is Future at his most poignant: “Everything in the streets, they prepared me for what I’m going thru right now / Can’t let any of this shit get to me, I go hard ’cause I know where I was at, and where I wanna go”.
Future doesn’t want to be typecast as a “basic” rapper. His background was tough (and illegal), and this track is an anthem about his struggle from the bottom: “You gotta feel the pain of a kid in the ghetto… I’m reminiscing bout my passion / I gotta go get my cash up”.
This album title track was born out of his oft-used producer and good friend DJ Esco getting sentenced to 56 days in jail for marijuana possession whilst touring with Future out in Dubai. Askronott’s motivation to keep going anyway is as evident as it always is, but he’s going to need some assistance. So he takes to his wealth of Xannies, plus promethazine and good drink.
His physical exhaustion is evident despite his tireless work ethic: “I’m ’bout to pass out in the mo’fucka”. This track is peak escapist Future attempting to rid himself of his demons and head towards a happiness that is seemingly always just out of reach.
This track highlights Future’s most regular cathartic method: drowning out his problems with exuberance and excess. One of his most leaned-out beats gets accompanied by introspective, syruped lyrics like, “When we’re cuddling, yeah I’m covered in / I was dug in it, I was just loving it,” referencing his close affinity to both women and lean and highlighting why he uses lean to fog over his true emotions.
The track also contains one of the greatest double entendres of all time: “Water drippin’ off me like a faucet” is ostensibly about Future stunting his jewelry, but can already clearly be construed as being about crying, too. The next bars “I just took a bitch to eat at Chipotle / Spent another 60 thousand on a Rollie” see him at his most starkly nonchalant and narcissistic to deflect from any perceived weakness the previous bar revealed.
Reflecting on his drug addiction, this track actually catches him in a sober mindset. The message on what is arguably the standout track from Purple Reign is that Future is craving eternal sleep to escape from his pain. The repeated bars, “Thinking about them licks I hit, I know I had to / Thinkin’ about if you was here, I had you” sees Future Hendrix reflecting somberly on his past as a trapper, as well as longing for a woman who used to be in his life (probably Ciara, let’s face it).
Future has been through a lot in his life that he cannot escape from. Violence and the deaths of close friends have left him with a permanent scar. The hook – “When you cook in the raw and you’re bad from the start / You as cold in your heart, you as cold as your heart” – is peak reflective Future.
Deeper Than the Ocean
Again, “My pain running deeper than the ocean” is one of his more blatantly introspective bars, and this is one of the earliest tracks on which Future candidly explores his emotions. Future talks about his drug addiction openly despite his licks to the top. “I commit a million crimes / That ain’t enough for you” – all the licks in the world still won’t get him the girl he wants.
Drippin (How U Luv That)
“I’m dripping flavor, you’re just a traitor” – Future toasts to his success whilst looking down on someone who has done him wrong, saying he could pay their rent, give them VIP access, and so on. It’s classic contempt-filled Future, who, whilst stunting in the lyrics, reveals his own bitterness about a relationship that didn’t work out.
Just Like Bruddas
Largely filled with the usual boasts about cars and money, Future finds time to address his relationship with ex-fiance, Ciara, on this track. Zaytoven brings in his usual twinkling reverie for Future to zone out to on Xanax bars. The line “I down five xannies and I pray I wake up and forget” is archetypal Emotional Future, and a key takeaway for fully understanding Future’s pain.
Concocted in memory of former close friend OG Double D, “Hardly” is a woozy trap ballad that scales the weight of the pain Future’s been through. As the hook and title suggest, the drugs he uses to cope with his pain and loss only help so much. Crooning, “I spent 3 racks on these Rick Owens I tried my best to forget it / pour my heart and soul in these poems my whole soul and my spirit” is Hendrix at his most heart-on-sleeve.
Aside from the nod to Prince’s album Purple Rain, this song is inextricably linked to Future’s lean abuse. The hook personifies lean as his girlfriend, and this relationship is a double edged sword: while his reign over the rap game is directly linked to sizzurp, he’s become addicted to it in order to satisfy his emotional thirst.
In this two-part track, Future starts out in harsh, shit-headed nihilism mode – bragging about having sex with women who are just “throw-aways” – until the 2:10 point, where the entire tone shifts, and Future starts crooning about his ex and analyzing the mistakes he made in the relationship.
The song breaks down into atmospheric melodies so he can fully open up: “I just hope when you fuck another n*gga when you finish / he can say that he love you, now do you feel better ’bout yourself? / Do you feel better ’bout yourself? Do you feel better when I love you?”
“Wolf” is one of Future’s most underrated tracks, packed with lyricism. “But just go right in the booth, and spit my heart and my anger / My closest friends givin’ up, man they feelin’ like strangers” – again, the theme of pressing on in the face of betrayal and heartbreak is evident here.
Stream Future’s new self-titled album, right here.