How should trap answer to Drake? It’s a strange question; one you’d almost think wouldn’t need answering. Whether you’re a fan or hater of the Canadian, his influence on a (sub)genre that couldn’t be more removed from his experience and narrative interests shouldn’t seem imperative. Yet, since its earliest years, so much of hip hop has been dependent on a game of follow the leader. It’s not a popular fact, but come up with something that gets airplay, near all callers will follow suit.
Future seems to be this answer, all the more solidified by the two’s relative hit remix, “Tony Montana”. He’s also the strangest addition to hip hop in recent memory, along with being this track’s most apparent guest, despite only providing the hook. In fact, he essentially drowns out the others in a sea of autotune. Just announced as part of this year’s XXL freshman class; he’s now a more undeniable presence than ever. In many ways, it makes perfect sense. Trap, perhaps in particular, has been of interest to hipster culture. Grounded in loud beats and louder rappers, artists such as Gucci Mane were instant indie idols, and with that taste now completely dominant thanks to the likes of Kanye and Drizzy, one can only expect it to seep into every aspect of hip hop.
Future, however, is far more troubling. He’s more or less completely incapable of rapping; instead relying on sound engineers to create something resembling a flow, with autotuned choruses (and often verses). Do people like him? Lots of people like him, but when you ask them to defend his seeming lack of any sort of talent, whatsoever, they’re left to stand with “it just works”. Well, a sense of irony and smug amusement aside, it just doesn’t. Trap isn’t a genre many in the music intelligentsia take seriously, and most seem to have forgotten that it’s founded on something resembling quality. Instead, trap seems to have been relegated to reveling in the bad, an unfair fate for its fathers.
This most recent cut, off an approaching DJ Drama release, underscores the Future problem more effectively than ever before. As was mentioned, he’s serving chorus duties for several of his rap elders – Jeezy, TI, and Ludacris – and the listener is reminded that once upon a time, Southern rappers were capable of rapping without hours of manpower behind the soundboards spent on doctoring vocals alone. In between some predictably throwaway verses (a slight, possible warning shot back at Alley Boy from TIP notwithstanding), he sticks out, and not in a good way. He incoherently mumbles in autone, as he is want to do, and generally proves his lack of purpose. In year when people consider this good, one has to weep for the future. Bad pun intended.