Recently, it feels like Future has been threatening Drake’s title as the marmite rapper of this generation. Some adore him and herald him as the best thing since sliced bread (to keep in line with the marmite metaphor), some dismiss him as a commercial calamity that will soon be toast (too far?).
The main strike that people place against Future’s name is the accusation that he releases way too much music for any of it to be well-constructed or well thought-out. If he can make an entire mixtape in roughly a week, when we are used to artists painstakingly honing the sound of an album over a matter of years, can it truly contain the same quality?
Probably not, if we are talking purely musically. But Future’s strategy is actually more astute than simply flooding the market. Artistically, it provides us with a catalogue of projects, which we can then view as a whole and appreciate the evolution of his music. A lot of them are undoubtedly samey, with hooks often consisting of a mind-numbing amount of repeated lines, and subject matter rarely straying out of rap’s typical hedonistic confines.
But while the individual songs on each album may be overly derivative, there is definitely progress from project to project. The spasmodic, confusing leaps from each Kanye West album to the next can partially be explained by there being a gap of a few years between each one. Future’s development from album to album is much, much less significant, yet to an extent the subtlety in the changes gives the listener more of an insight into the mind space Future is in at each moment of his artistic and personal progression. He has spoken in interviews of a reluctance to speak about past works, arguing that they show us a snapshot of where his head was when he made that body of music, and that it is no longer relevant to him now.
Future makes music that is perfectly tailored to our instagram-infested, twitter-twisted, facebook-frenzied brains, where followers are kept updated through a regular flow of photographs, tweets or posts. This is what Future’s albums do for his listeners, and the intense quantity lets us feel even closer to the action - just how a more frequently updated twitter or instagram account will make followers feel.
Furthermore, the rapidity of Future’s musical turnover targets our so-called short attention span generation, where instead of savouring an album for months or years on end, we binge a project in an hour and then are already desperately seeking out our next sonic fix. Future is one of the only artists in the market right now who can satisfy that desire. Okay, perhaps rappers that build up publicity for an album over the course of a year or two may hit bigger first-week sales, but generally we have found that the greater the hype, the greater the disappointment when it actually arrives on our playlists.
So yes, in isolation Future’s albums may not be anything spectacular, and by no means can he be called the best artist of the moment. But he has an excellent strategy, both artistically and marketing-wise, and one that epitomises 2018. It’s quick, it’s simple and it’s effective.
And hey, I don’t know about you, but I love marmite.
Yours sincerely, but not too seriously,
Hello! I'm currently studying Philosophy & Theology at Oxford University, UK. Having always loved writing and music in equal measure, and having always hated decision-making, I figured hey, why do I need to choose between the two?