On the dark and moody, Metro Boomin’ assisted, Monster, Future displays himself first as an artist with a tremendous ear for production, and as a “loose cannon,” fraught with troubling paranoia.
Part of Future’s appeal lies in a musically indefinable existence. While both Pluto (and the 3D version) and Honest became somewhat of a set template for artists like Travi$ Scott, Future himself is a blend of the past, some not so distant. Given his early tutelage under first cousin Rico Wade, of Organized Noize, whom Future credits with “masterminding” his sound, the strength of his consistent, and developed ear will likely keep the MC(?) relevant beyond this current era of “all trap everything,” if he can make it out alive.
He’s a rapper, that typically isn’t “rapping” along any traditional, or recognizable, bar structure – an originator of sorts, within this context. In fact, the only familiar rap motif is the utilization of trunk rattling trap production, which end up becoming long wave carpet-bombings of neighborhood blocks. He blends the sonic overbearance, with typical drug-monied bombast and unnecessary misogyny (if we are being frank.) In those contexts, Monster could be considered more of same, except Future presents yet another dimension: a survivor’s post trauma stress and paranoia.
Monster explodes before take-off, beginning with a low point, on the boring, run of the mill “Radical.” Starting in earnest, “Monster” comes with arguably the longest hooks in rap history – mentioning, alongside the frightening misogyny, he would serve family members, if given the chance. (More on this later.) Following a funny (and slightly racist) skit, a celebratory Future proceeds to “Fuck Up Some Commas,” where he demands a ”money shower.” Nard & B production “Throw Away” dives into the depths of the low end, features spacey keys for juxtaposition. The mixtape, to this point, feels typical, if a bit darker than usual. However, on the second part of the track, we get some nuance, where we get some semblance of true feeling. It is clear he’s abused the trust of the woman he obviously loves, but he’s too proud to give in and express regret, or offer an apology. This stunted emotional understanding remains present through out the mixtape.
The Lil Wayne feature on “After That” stands out, with Tunechi snapping off with humor: “Ain’t looking good like cataracts.” Ode to the lost ones, “My Savages” pushes the shield of Future’s alpha sensibility aside with certain passages. Stark truths peek through the womanizing gloss: “You think I’m still not depressed(?)” Future provides a personalized tale in street banger “Gangland,” on top of a vicious Bobby Kritical and DJ Plugg track. The paranoia of his past is clear: “The karma coming back from when I was getting it in.” After intimating he’ll start trapping in Europe, he explains that “I’m planning on saving my soul.” Just not right now.
Another exceptional, more heart-felt track, “Hardly,” continues on the paranoia train, as he swallows the Zanax with syrup: “Hope it take away all this damn pain”; He has the sound of a man hoping karma treats him nicely, but knows better. Wunderkind and trap genius Metro Boomin’, the mixtape’s executive producer, puts his foot into the bouncy “Wesley Presley,” give the mixtape its best show if rapper/producer synergy. “Showed Up” and “Mad Luv” sound like a leaned-out bizarro version of the Scarface ‘mountain of coke’ scene, where he’s definitely going to get caught up.
On the mixtape's finale, the slowed-up TM88 production, “Codeine Crazy,” Future Hendrix provides more insight: “I been tryin’ to have some patience/Told my momma she should pray on it.” It’s critical to note that he’s not himself doing it himself – his mother has to pray on his behalf. This is to say that he’s too far gone, mired in the paranoia and guilt of his past, on top of what his experiences with fame have done to both edify and damage him. The tracks also marks the best lines on the mixtape: “I might get after Madonna/get the crack in the summer, trap in the ‘Lac and the Hummer/Frontin’ a pack to my partner, so all this lingo got her panties to dropping.”
Ultimately, Atlanta lyricist completes some of his best work here, with Metro Boomin’ putting his stamp on the trap scene. The mixtape is, at times, both sonically exhilarating, and (if we are to believe he’s as truthful as he always claims) very disturbing. Some of the last bars on the mixtape actually plainly show Future’s main problem: “Fuck the fame, I'm sipping lean when it dropping/All this cash here and nowhere to hide it/I'm an addict and I can't even have it.” To cash, or the lean, which are both mentioned in equal amounts?
Monster is real-time peek into the other realities of a very specific survivor’s celebration and remorse. He's made it out, in spite of his circumstances and himself. The overwhelming emotions have created the need to handle via drug use, perhaps to the point of dependency. The obvious irony is that he likely got into rap to get away from the drug hustle, and is now quite possibly turning into a different sort of dope fiend. Perhaps the lean infusion (somehow) makes for impressive music, but beyond Future, what is it doing to the artists flying this Activis flag? Does it really matter? Do fans even care, as long as they get what they want?