If Future taught us anything last year, it's to expect the unexpected. He'd already proved his fondness for unpredictable release patterns a few years prior with his incredible Monster-DS2 run, but dropping twin albums FUTURE and HNDRXX a week apart was unprecedented. Not only were both announced just days before their arrival (as was also the case with DS2), but they're also arguably the most polar opposite albums in Future's catalog. After the hard-nosed self-titled one arrived, I spent my review predicting that it was the final nail in the coffin of the melodic side that Future had seemed hell bent on burying ever since he was dissatisfied with 2014's Honest. Less than a week later, Future made me look like an idiot by releasing HNDRXX, an album that committed more fully to pop music than anything else he's ever done. How could I be mad, though, with two good-to-great albums that crystallized Future's two distinct sides.

Future has appeared to be in release mode ever since January 2nd, when he cleared his entire Instagram account, but we haven't gotten any official announcements since then. We did, however, receive new single "I.C.W.N.T." last week. Any attempt to predict Future's next move is inherently futile, but that won't stop us from trying. Here are some bold guesses as to what Future's next release will sound like.

It won't be Beast Mode 2

Back in January, just a few weeks after the IG purge, an old fan theory about Future's affinity for January releases resurfaced. Dirty Sprite, Future's second tape, dropped on 1-11-11, Astronaut Status almost exactly a year later on 1-12-12, FBG The Movie on 1-13-13, Beast Mode on 1-15-15, and Purple Reign was delayed a few hours, so it arrived on January 17th, rather than 1-16-16. This year, January 18th seemed like a relatively safe bet for a drop date. Rumors were fueled further by an IG post from Future's A&R that showed the cover of Beast Mode with the caption "3 years [since] we dropped this... it's time," which led many to speculate that the long-awaited sequel would be released on the 18th. 

It didn't. 

With that strategic window closed, it seems unlikely that Future will put out a second full-length with Zaytoven right now.  

It'll be eagle or bird-themed

Future's been talking about avian creatures ever since Astronaut Status' "Birds Take A Bath," but lately, he's been especially devoted to birds of prey. The cover of last fall's collaborative album with Young ThugSuper Slimey, showed insignias that symbolized each artist. Thug's was a green snake, which considering his heavy use of the similar emoji back in the Slime Season era, was no surprise. Future's was the onyx-black skull of a bird of prey, potentially a vulture considering the curved beak. Prior to that, Future's only connection to birds had been the aforementioned lyrics (although "birds" is a pretty common term among all southern trappers), the eagle in the Freebandz logo, and a few references here and there to the Atlanta Hawks and Falcons. That's a fair amount of bird connections, but even Thugger, with his more creative references to Atlanta's teams and his onetime connection to Birdman, probably had a stronger connection to winged creatures at that point.

At the start of 2018, though, Future further committed to birds of prey as his primary iconography. In addition to his first cryptic tweet that used the eagle emoji (below), he's been including the character in nearly all of his tweets since. Seeing as it's not the year of any birdlike creature in the Chinese calendar, his newfound fondness for eagles seems like it could hint at themes for a new album.

If not, there's still a chance it could be Ape Shit

Delving further into Twitter emoji usage, let's take a look at Mike Will Made It for a second. He and Future were rumored to be working on a project called Ape Shit back in December 2014, but since that time, we've heard little to nothing about it. Just the other day, though, Mike responded to a tweet (below) about new music from him and Future, then retweeted a few people that called on him to drop Ape Shit. What's more, he added the gorilla emoji to his Twitter screen name shortly afterward. All of this is coming from Mike's side, so Future obviously would have to be on-board to release the tape, but it's a start!

We'll get more FUTURE Future than HNDRXX Future

Judging from "I.C.W.N.T.", Future's back on his bullshit. Ever since breaking up with Ciara in the months following Honest, he's seemed to adopt a more jaded, nihilistic outlook, especially towards women, but the more romantically-inclined HNDRXX suggested that perhaps the clouds had parted and Future was ready to behave like an adult again. Not so fast. "I.C.W.N.T." is a song that poses women as disposable, a theme Future seems to have recycled a million times ("Throw Away," "Real Sisters," "Groupies," etc.), and can't seem to get past. There's no other evidence to suggest that his next project will be more gangster Future than depressed/romantic/melodic Future, but he seems due for another trajectory-correcting trip back to his grimier shit. 

It won't live up to last year's double album

Again this is mostly only based on "I.C.W.N.T.", which wasn't the most warmly-received single, but it doesn't seem likely that Future will top last year's double header. Both FUTURE and HNDRXX ended up in our top ten albums of 2017, with the former even sitting at #1. Beating a year that produced two solid albums is a tough task for any artist, even one as prolific as Future. It'll take something groundbreaking to unseat his 2017 accomplishments, and, unfortunately "I.C.W.N.T." ain't it.

This may seem pessimistic, but if Future does come though with something insanely good, it'll just be another situation like HNDRXX where the surprise makes the album even more memorable.