PopMatters is moving to WordPress. We will publish a few essays daily while we develop the new site. We hope the beta will be up sometime late next week.
Music

Future and DJ Esco: Project E.T.

Similar to Purple Reign and EVOL, Project E.T. lacks the urgency and eye for detail that made Future the star he is.


Future & DJ Esco

Project E.T.

Label: Freebandz
US Release Date: 2016-06-24
UK Release Date: 2016-06-24
Amazon
iTunes

You can tell a lot about a Future mixtape by its closing song. Looking back to his unparalleled run starting with 2014’s Monster to his latest offering, a collaborative mixtape with his DJ Esco, Project E.T., the last tracks reveal much about what precedes them. Starting from Monster, we saw the classic “Codeine Crazy”, a song that did as much to elevate Future to mythologizing status as any of his releases; Beast Mode finished off with “Forever Eva”, one of his finest showings of the power of repetition; 56 Nights closed with the title track on the original download, but has switched to “March Madness” on his Soundcloud, and each capture his eye for detail and looking back on the months that led to his ascent; Purple Reign also ended on the title track, and, while it’s a powerful statement in its own right, it and the mixtape that it came from suffered from the knowledge that “Codeine Crazy” and Monster existed. So we’re now at Project E.T. What does its finishing track, “Benjamins Burn”, say about its larger project? Unfortunately, that Future’s still in the coasting mode that began with Purple Reign.

The clearest way this is evident is by examining similar lyrics from E.T. and the three mixtape run he’s so known for. On “Benjamins”, he plainly states “I went bonkers in Europe”, a far cry from the “I did 56 broads on the European tour and they was all crazy / I took 56 bars all in one month” of “56 Nights”. Elsewhere, “Audemars, Hublots now” on “Too Much Sauce” is less descriptive than the dizzying turn-of-phrase from “Codeine Crazy”: “I say everything triple-time / AP, Rollie, Hublot, triple time”. But the latter song is still evidence of one of Future’s greatest strengths, that of infectious hook-maker. A huge look for Lil Uzi Vert, who provides all of the song’s verses, Future melodically keeps inventing new ways to say the phrase “too much sauce”. It’s a fun song with a characteristic Zaytoven piano beat, anchored with Vert’s joyous boasts: “Diamonds, they look like Dasani / More like Voss”. But it’s not representative of the product as a whole.

Instead, the project could be subtitled “Future’s Shopping List”, as the lyrics read more like that than anything else. Granted, this could lead to enjoyable turn-up music, but it lacks the gleeful intensity that songs of that nature need. Rather, he sounds bored on much of the tape, and not the Cam’ron-ian bored arrogance of the introduction to “Low Life” where he adds a rare bout of self-awareness to the mix. No, it’s fashionable designers (what else?), expensive cars (what else?), and myriad drugs (what else?). But as I wrote about Purple Reign, Future’s now in a simultaneously enviable and unenviable position: he’s at the top of the game, yes, but this now means that the two options are coast off of the success or enter into a period of experimentation to further his sound. So far, he’s taken the first option.

As he’s an A-list rapper, however, it’s obvious that any release would come with hits inside. The most likely candidate, on star power alone, is the Drake and 2 Chainz collaboration “100it Racks”. The twinkling bass-heavy beat sounds ripped straight from the What a Time to Be Alive sessions, a collaboration that was quite well-produced. The lyrics aren’t much to write home about (Drake’s still on his unimpressive Views lyricism with “You think she your baby girl / She text us (Texas) like Dallas”), but 2 Chainz continues his 2016 features run with the absurd imagery of “Put codeine in a Snapple / Put codeine on a salad / Guess I’m on a codeine diet!” All in all, this won’t matter much, as Future’s droning hook, “Hunnit racks bustin’ out the wrapper”, is sure to be repeated ad nauseam.

What has long made Future’s music compelling is the emotional transparency he’s shown from his earliest releases. Where many artists of all genres are content to portray good times and stop there, Future’s someone who was willing to expound upon what happens after they run out. It’s what’s made him one of rap’s most beloved figures by his fans and why his pre-Purple Reign output is treated like gospel. Project E.T. lacks this facet of his music and has suffered as a result. He’s still at the top of the game and each release will be vital to listen to, but a new challenge arises: where to go from here?

5

Please Donate to Help Save PopMatters

PopMatters have been informed by our current technology and hosting provider that we have less than a month, until November 6, to move PopMatters off their service or we will be shut down. We are moving to WordPress and a new host, but we really need your help to save the site.


Music

Books

Film

Recent
Music

Call Super's New LP Is a Digital Biosphere of Insectoid and Otherworldly Sounds

Call Super's Every Mouth Teeth Missing is like its own digital biosphere, rife with the sounds of the forest and the sounds of the studio alike.

Music

Laura Veirs Talks to Herself on 'My Echo'

The thematic connections between these 10 Laura Veirs songs and our current situation are somewhat coincidental, or maybe just the result of kismet or karmic or something in the zeitgeist.

Film

15 Classic Horror Films That Just Won't Die

Those lucky enough to be warped by these 15 classic horror films, now available on Blu-ray from The Criterion Collection and Kino Lorber, never got over them.

Music

Sixteen Years Later Wayne Payne Follows Up His Debut

Waylon Payne details a journey from addiction to redemption on Blue Eyes, The Harlot, The Queer, The Pusher & Me, his first album since his 2004 debut.

Music

Every Song on the Phoenix Foundation's 'Friend Ship' Is a Stand-Out

Friend Ship is the Phoenix Foundation's most personal work and also their most engaging since their 2010 classic, Buffalo.

Music

Kevin Morby Gets Back to Basics on 'Sundowner'

On Sundowner, Kevin Morby sings of valleys, broken stars, pale nights, and the midwestern American sun. Most of the time, he's alone with his guitar and a haunting mellotron.

Music

Lydia Loveless Creates Her Most Personal Album with 'Daughter'

Given the turmoil of the era, you might expect Lydia Loveless to lean into the anger, amplifying the electric guitar side of her cowpunk. Instead, she created a personal record with a full range of moods, still full of her typical wit.

Music

Flowers for Hermes: An Interview with Performing Activist André De Shields

From creating the title role in The Wiz to winning an Emmy for Ain't Misbehavin', André De Shields reflects on his roles in more than four decades of iconic musicals, including the GRAMMY and Tony Award-winning Hadestown.

Film

The 13 Greatest Horror Directors of All Time

In honor of Halloween, here are 13 fascinating fright mavens who've made scary movies that much more meaningful.

Music

British Jazz and Soul Artists Interpret the Classics on '​Blue Note Re:imagined'

Blue Note Re:imagined provides an entrance for new audiences to hear what's going on in British jazz today as well as to go back to the past and enjoy old glories.

Film

Bill Murray and Rashida Jones Add Another Shot to 'On the Rocks'

Sofia Coppola's domestic malaise comedy On the Rocks doesn't drown in its sorrows -- it simply pours another round, to which we raise our glass.

Music

​Patrick Cowley Remade Funk and Disco on 'Some Funkettes'

Patrick Cowley's Some Funkettes sports instrumental renditions from between 1975-1977 of songs previously made popular by Donna Summer, Herbie Hancock, the Temptations, and others.

Music

The Top 10 Definitive Breakup Albums

When you feel bombarded with overpriced consumerism disguised as love, here are ten albums that look at love's hangover.

Music

Dustin Laurenzi's Natural Language Digs Deep Into the Jazz Quartet Format with 'A Time and a Place'

Restless tenor saxophonist Dustin Laurenzi runs his four-piece combo through some thrilling jazz excursions on a fascinating new album, A Time and a Place.

Television

How 'Watchmen' and 'The Boys' Deconstruct American Fascism

Superhero media has a history of critiquing the dark side of power, hero worship, and vigilantism, but none have done so as radically as Watchmen and The Boys.

Music

Floodlights' 'From a View' Is Classicist Antipodal Indie Guitar Pop

Aussie indie rockers, Floodlights' debut From a View is a very cleanly, crisply-produced and mixed collection of shambolic, do-it-yourself indie guitar music.

Music

CF Watkins Embraces a Cool, Sophisticated Twang on 'Babygirl'

CF Watkins has pulled off the unique trick of creating an album that is imbued with the warmth of the American South as well as the urban sophistication of New York.

Music

Helena Deland Suggests Imagination Is More Rewarding Than Reality on 'Something New'

Canadian singer-songwriter Helena Deland's first full-length release Someone New reveals her considerable creative talents.


Reviews
Collapse Expand Reviews



Features
Collapse Expand Features

PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 PopMatters.com. All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.