Monster, the latest mixtape from Future, comes during a tumultuous year for the rapper. The highs: He put out Honest in April, an acclaimed album that will likely end up on year-end lists, and Ciara gave birth to his son not long after. The lows: Within months, Future split up with ex-fiancee Ciara amid allegations of infidelity.
Future’s personal life quickly bled into his music. He teamed up with Wiz Khalifa, who recently split with Amber Rose, for the sullen, childish “Pussy Overrated.” Future also appeared as a disappointing lover opposite Keyshia Cole on “Love Letter,” a highlight from her Point of No Return. Cole sings, “Every time you wrote me a love letter/ Had me thinking that you could do better.” Future’s verse moves quickly into tales of cheating: “She on my nuts, you sayin’, ‘You can’t keep your dick in your jeans.'”
The rapper isn’t going to win any public-relations battles with Monster. Take the title track: “I’m a monster on these hoes,” Future raps. The hook gives Chris Brown‘s “Loyal” a run for its money: “Don’t be trustin’ these hoes/ I just be smashin’ these hoes.”
Honest came packed with guest features from huge names — Kanye West, Drake, Andre 3000 — but Monster is a more focused project. Lil Wayne is the only credited guest rapper, and Future works with a crew of his usual producers: Nard B, DJ SPinz, Metro Boomin. The Future Hendrix sound — bendy but unyielding, a mishmash of hard barks and autotuned yelps — has become a part of Atlanta’s DNA, as natural as breathing in the city’s rap scene. Youngsters like Young Thug and ILoveMakonnen have taken his blueprint, now several years old, and run wild with it. Future backs away from edge of unpredictability on Monster, sticking to low-slung, tough beats and hoarse yells. Only occasionally does he break the mold — “Hardly” is brief and mournful, basically a piano ballad dressed up as hip-hop.
The biggest outlier is the second half of “Throw Away”: It’s the stickiest, most melodic moment on the mixtape, and also the most intense. The rapper hurls white-hot anger in every direction at once. “Deep down, I believe, you know you’re a monster too,” Future says. He describes his own sexual indiscretions in explicit detail and dares a lover to match him. “Go on f— that ni–a, get it over with… My love don’t mean that much to you… Do you feel better about yourself?… I was f—ing on a slut, and I was thinking about you.” It feels like Future’s unfiltered stream of consciousness captured in the studio: mean, embittered, manipulative, and self-loathing all at once, hard to listen to, and hard to turn away from.