Future’s latest album marks the peak of his career as a mainstream rapper

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I once saw a Youtube comment that said, “Future is like Beyonce for men.” That was on the song “March Madness,” one of Future’s most inspiring anthems. On Friday, Future released his self-titled fifth album, a 17-track spectacle of triumphant verses and cutting beats. It is his fourth full length album in less than two years, in addition to five other mixtapes.

Overall, Future has released over 100 songs in only a handful of years, without mentioning the number of features he often spots on albums of his contemporaries like Drake, Chance the Rapper, the Weeknd and Travis Scott, to name a few. Future’s style has influenced many other imitators and, like the Migos, about whom I wrote a couple weeks back, helped to push grimy, gritty vocalized trap rap to the forefront of musical relevance.

His producers – most notably Metro Boomin – have become staples of the music community, lending their skills to promote new artists like 21 Savage as well as helping mold the new sound of established artists like Kanye West.

That Youtube comment feels particularly relevant when listening to this newest album. “FUTURE” is the summation of the many styles and sounds Future has accumulated over the years. Some songs are reminiscent of his more thoughtful, sing-songy and pop-rap debut album “Honest,” but through the gritty and bitter lens of later projects, like DS2.

Appropriately, the album has no features. The beats are interesting and harsh, and Future’s many flows glide over even the most complicated arrangement of hi-hats. There are echoes of his more acclaimed mixtapes on this album, notably “Purple Reign,” whose crooning choruses were emotional yet tough. Future has been on an absolute tear the past couple of years, and many think his 2015 album “DS2” was his artistic zenith.

However, this album feels like an appropriate step towards something new, and a more fully rounded and realized sound. Future shines here when he does what he does best: making workout music for superheroes. He is proud, loud and doesn’t hold back.

From Donald Trump references to talking about his insane success and wealth, Future is on his game when he is unapologetically brash and in-your-face. Songs like “POA,” “Mask Off,” “Super Trapper,” “Rent Money” and “Poppin Tags,” are mean and almost hardcore in their sound. Other songs, like “I’m so Groovy” and “Draco” are a little more light-spirited but still trap-infused and joyful.

Future avoids feeling cliche, arrogant or particularly controversial, however. He just makes you feel good. Like you could reduce a mountain to dust or, in the words of one of his older hits, “Buy the World.” This album does a lot to showcase Future, the man, with all his flaws and sounds. His lyrics are very easy to find motivation in, and he is at his most coherent on much of this album. It is the culmination of all of his sounds, his ups and downs of his relationships with love interests and substances. Sonically, the production is very tight and aggressive but takes Future’s beat selection to new places. I imagine his next album will have a sonic reinvention much as “DS2” did, but this is the peak of Future in this phase of his work.

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