BY: THEY SANON
One of the hardest things to do in music these days is to find the balance between being "underground" and being "mainstream," because both of these pathways come with positives and negatives. Underground artists tend to give up the flashing lights and big payouts associated with putting out top 40 hits, in favor of developing more of a cult following and producing what is often referred to as "real music," not influenced by the awards or society surrounding it. This title is often given to talented, lesser known artists who do not sign to labels, like Rhapsody, Tech N9ne, and up until recently, 21 Savage. By contrast, mainstream artists are the musicians you see running every chart from Billboard to Rolling Stone, going on massive world tours organized by their labels and generally banking off of their massive fanbases. The negative aspect of being mainstream is how important relevancy becomes to the artist's image. Being mainstream comes with the burden of remaining mainstream, causing artists to constantly reinvent themselves in order to stay on top. These are two very distinct paths with very little room for crossover and flexibility, seeing as one path asks artists to stick to their roots, while the other asks them to be willing to constantly leave their comfort zone. But somehow, there are artists like Future, who just cannot be placed into either category.
So far in 2017, Future has won. Behind the release of his two latest projects, "Future" and "HNDRXX," the awards and accolades are starting to pour in all over the place. Future is now officially the first artist in history to have two albums debut at Number 1 on the Billboard Top 200 across all genres in back-to-back weeks, according to Forbes. Not just Hip-Hop fam, but ALL GENRES. In addition to this, Future is the second artist, behind Prince, to have an album hold both the Number 1 and Number 2 spots on the chart as well. Future is literally at the top of the game right now and in addition to these two projects of his own, he has appeared on tracks with every artist you can possibly imagine lately. From dropping bangers with Young Scooter and Rick Ross, he has also appeared on "Starboy", "Major Key," and his single with 21 Savage, "X", has just gone double platinum.
Now maybe I'm just a Future stan who needs to go chill for a bit, but I have a theory about this whole situation that just makes this whole thing 10x better. Future knew this was going to happen, and called his shot last summer.
Now just hear me out. Future has been working on these albums for awhile, but since last year when he dropped his previous studio album, "EVOL," Hendrix has released two fully-fleshed out mixtapes, "Purple Reign" and "Project E.T: The Esco Terrestrial," which both had critically-acclaimed and commercial success. These mixtapes follow the same pattern as his two latest albums. "Purple Reign" dropped first, serving as more of a personal testament to his roots in the underground, with the vintage Future style shining through on minimalist beats with no features. With fire tracks like "Wicked" and "Perkys Calling," this mixtape was made for fans who were with Future back in the days of "Pluto" and the first "Dirty Sprite" mixtapes. "Future," the first new release, follows a nearly identical format. There are no features, the beats are simpler and the lyrics are less substantial to the overall package, but the FutureHive swarmed to this album nonetheless.
Last summer, Future dropped "Project E.T: The Esco Terrestrial," a joint project with DJ Esco that was a completely different vibe from the cold flow of "Purple Reign." "Project E.T." was a definite summer mixtape. It was full of features, DJ Esco and Metro Boomin were throwing Future some very complex layered beats and Future's lyrics come off cleaner, providing more depth to the album. This was a mainstream mixtape by definition, with two tracks, "Too Much Sauce" and "Juice," that climbed to the top of the charts. In the same vein, "HNDRXX" follows this exact same formula, creating a completely different experience from "Future" and attracting a completely different fan base in the process.
Future has made a lot of grandiose comparisons to other icons in music and entertainment history, one of the most recent comparisons being O.J. Simpson. As discussed in the Oscar-Winning documentary, O.J. Simpson: Made in America, O.J's case was so intriguing because he was viewed as less of a man and more of a "transcendent figure." O.J.'s fame had gotten to a point where he had gone above the concept of "race," where people didn't see him as black or white, but just as O.J. Simpson, or "The Juice." Over the course of the past two weeks, Future has proven to everybody that he has transcended above the ideas of "niche appeal." He set a goal with each album and achieved both with flying colors. On "Future," he reminded us that he never left his underground roots behind and on "HNDRXX," he showed us that he can "do the mainstream thing" just as well. Just like with O.J., you can't tag Future as being underground or being mainstream, he's literally just Future, one of the more talented artists of this generation. He literally poked fun at himself being like O.J. last summer on "Project E.T.," but now with these recent releases, it's coming full circle. Future is the Juice now.
This is all just one of my many Future-related theories. I'm probably just still recovering from the stroke I had when I heard rumors that Future was dropping a third album. But until it drops, I'll just say that both of these albums are incredible and deserve all of the accolades coming their way. If you're still somehow not convinced that Future is incredibly talented, he's definitely got a plan to win you over by the end of this year.
P.S. IT'S MARCH, SO I NOW HAVE A REASON TO POST THIS VIDEO. ENJOY.