Future is Back: 56 Nights and No Basics

Future's newest mixtape 56 Nights is the best use of the number since Joe DiMaggio's hitting streak.
By    March 23, 2015

About a year ago, I interviewed Future in a North Hollywood studio. Scented candles and very white people were lit everywhere and it seemed like the absolute worst place to make music. He was still with Ciara and ostensibly very much in love, even though the relationship disintegrated a few months later.  It’s stupid to say that he went Hollywood, but it’s not incorrect to say that Hollywood is perhaps the worst setting imaginable for grimy rap music. As soon as you move to the Santa Monica Mountains, you inevitably start to fall off. These are the rules. It wasn’t that Future seemed soft, but more that he seemed distracted. He was “Honest” Future, not the Future of “Same Damn Time” or “Shit.” Even though he remained an excellent songwriter, Nayvadius went from Pluto to Mars, the lowest hanging planetary reference.

I don’t know exactly what changed. Maybe it was splitting from Ciara or maybe he moved back to Atlanta or maybe he merely switched strains of weed (Future passed the blunt and therein engendered a thousand years of goodwill). It also might be the fact that “Move That Dope” was his biggest single and rawest straight-up rap song. The pop crossovers flopped. Even at its hardest, there’s something infectious about all of Future’s music. As much as Thugga took from Wayne, you can’t underestimate how much he lifted from the most lifted.

What’s evident is that he’s returned to peak Astronaut status and has released two of the best projects of the year so far. His tape with Zaytoven slid under the radar, but it had everything you could want from their reunion: “Ha” tributes with Juvie, paeans to not dating basics, hard as fuck rap songs that make your chest cavity collapse buoyed by an inner trap Bjork sense of melody. While “Fuck Up Some Commas” from last fall’s Monster is on it’s way to becoming a national smash.

Future is made of music and the temptation is to indulge in his weirdest excesses. The trick is to balance both. For him to stay weird and experimental and shaking off the parasites that try to swag dracula his style, retaining the songcraft and spitting frozen ice nine bars over murder muzik synths. 56 Nights contains all the Futurian multitudes, including a skit mocking guys for favoriting Girls Tweets and Instagram photos. He is a national treasure. If Kentucky doesn’t make “March Madness” their official theme, fire Calipari immediately.

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