The rate at which Future has dropped albums, mixtapes, collaborative projects and guest verses this decade has been truly astonishing. Simply put, the father of emo rap is one of the hardest working artists in music today. But just like other prolific artists have found in the past (looking at you Lil Wayne), there comes a point where the balance between quality and quantity starts to muddle, and the public tire of hearing so much from the same musician. The consistency that was once a strength becomes a weakness, and over-saturation means a lot of fans turn against the very thing they used to love.
Future only dropped The WIZRD - his seventh solo studio album and basically an amalgamation of all the styles (from blues to trap and even psychedelia) he exhibited on previous albums, fused together into one neat package - five months ago. Supposedly the last album on his contract with Epic Records, there was a sense Future would take some time out to recharge before going again. Yet anyone expecting Future to slow down gravely misjudged the situation, with his new SAVE ME EP suggesting the Atlanta artist doesn’t feel comfortable taking a step back and waiting a few years between releasing albums. Future would sooner saturate the market with product, a lot like Drake does, with both titans wanting to give off the impression of being truly omnipresent within popular culture.
Sadly, the half-baked music on SAVE ME suggests Future would have benefitted from being a bit more patient, with hardly any of these songs popping the way Future Hendrix records usually do. It isn’t a bad EP, there’s just nothing on here that really hammers home what we love about Future: namely, melancholic bangers based around a baller having an existential crisis; projecting bliss, but drowning in sorrow.
On the gloomy “XanaX Damage,” Future’s vocals are far too masked with autotune, and his trademark growl sounds a lot more neutered than usual. The song’s hook meanders and fails to really land. Although it contains arguably the EP’s funniest lyric (FYI: “She found out I cheated on her/ but she still feeds me grapes”), the same could be said about "St. Lucia," a track that doesn’t really go anywhere. Sure, "Please Tell Me" makes a little bit more of an impression, but there’s still a sense the track is a little rough around the edges and doesn’t contain the usual Future flair.
The EP’s best moment is the indisputable banger that is "Government Official," with Future rapping witty bars about being homies with Vladimir Putin and how drug raps made him into a millionaire. The distorted synths and aggressive vocal delivery both recall the darker atmosphere of classic Future mixtape Monster. "Love Thy Enemies" and "Extra," which both see a more heartbroken Future singing the blues and reflecting on backstabbers in his clique, are also very good. But when only three out of seven tracks on an EP really inspire you to hit the replay button, you start to doubt whether it was worth releasing in the first place.
Future just doesn’t sound very inspired on this project, with the artist bleeding out whatever is inside his head opposed to dropping the tighter, more considered bars we’re used to. On the press run for The WIZRD, Future spoke of the pressures of continuing to rap about lean, revealing he was scared of losing fans if he switched up his content and became less an advocate of popping pills in the club. And I had hoped this would open the door for Future to discuss more adult themes with his next release. Unfortunately, SAVE ME doesn’t do this at all and more catches Future on autopilot mode.
It’s an okay release, which suggests Future is ready to settle more into singing than rapping with his next few albums, but it almost certainly marks the end of the artist’s golden run this decade, with none of these tracks likely to enter the pantheon of classic Future anthems. If Future is to stay on top for another decade then you sense he will need to take more of a sonic risk on his next few releases, as SAVE ME is the first record of a decorated career that suggests fatigue might be setting in.