Almost precisely one year to the day after Pusha-T unveiled 1800 Seconds, an album he curated with 1800 Tequila to showcase emerging artists from around the United States, comes 1800 Seconds Volume 2, another offering from the Mexican-based liquor brand. This time, 1800 has teamed up with Future, who caps off his run in the 2010s — a decade in which the prolific Atlantan became one of the brightest stars and most influential voices in all of music — by flexing his own curatorial skills. Together with the Grammy-nominated producer Papamitrou, Future and 1800 Tequila highlight seven of the most exciting new upstarts in hip-hop and R&B.
As mentioned, Future has recorded and released music at a remarkable pace throughout the decade. Since his major-label debut album, 2012’s Pluto, he has been a constant fixture on rap and pop radio, helping to shape the sound of both genres. They have bent toward his vocals, which can flit from gruff and guttural to yelped exaltations at a moment’s notice, and have become accustomed to his songwriting, which places unnervingly grim personal details alongside shards of shockingly open emotion. 1800 Seconds Volume 2 taps into both of these veins.
Some of the artists who appear here have been signed to Future’s own Freebandz label: there is Herion Young, the Memphis native whose “Hit Like Mike” is the most paranoid, tightly-wound number on the album, and there is Test, who comes from Baltimore (and whose music has a singular feel, in part because he often engineers his own vocals). But the net was cast outside Future’s familiar camp as well. He also taps the Jacksonville-bred Seddy Hendrix, a husky-voiced Lower East Sider named Aurora Anthony, and Juiicy 2xS, the emerging singer from Cincinnati, who nearly steals the album for herself with the sultry “What Did You Do To Me.”
Perhaps the most compelling personal story attached to this album belongs to Shaun Sloan, the Los Angeles native whose “Hot Boy” serves as the introduction. That song plays like an emotional bloodletting, recounting comas and the moments when hospital procedures left Sloan with blood dripping from his arm — consequences of the sickle cell anemia that he has rapped about so vividly in the past. It’s worth noting that the marriage of harrowing personal details to inventive, pained melodies is a hallmark of Future’s own music; as an opening number, “Hot Boy” suggests that 1800 2 will truly be an extension of its executive producer’s vision.
The highlight of 1800 Seconds Volume 2 is “Out the Mud,” an emotive, guitar-led cut from a Philadelphia native named Lihtz Kamraz. The young artist has his own fascinating backstory: fellow Philly native Meek Mill discovered him while he was filming an arc on the television drama Empire, and helped break him nationally with a guest appearance on his Gold-selling album Wins & Losses. The song clearly comes from a musical landscape that has been reshaped in Future’s image, but represents a perspective that is unique to one of the new voices that could figure largely in the decade to come.