Music

Future: EVOL

EVOL doesn’t stand up to Future's critical peaks, but this could easily be seen as but a release to tide fans over before the next blockbuster.


Future

EVOL

Label: Freebandz / Epic
US Release Date: 2016-02-06
Amazon
iTunes

“Mark my words, I’ma ball without you,” Future promised on the song that completely shifted the direction of his career, Monster’s “Throw Away”. Though this line, like much of his post-Honest output was directed at ex Ciara, there’s an argument to be made for its meta qualities. As is now canonical knowledge, Future has released seven projects in a 16-month period, EVOLincluded, and on them are a total of five distinct guests, all of whom can be linked to one another via only a few degrees of separation (for those interested by the current research examining just how many degrees of separation is the maximum between any two people, the highest number for this group of features, excluding Future, is an astounding two). His ability to create an insular world where those few guests played by his rules allowed for five undeniably great, cohesive pieces of music. Unfortunately for his fervent fanbase, EVOL, like Purple Reign before it, doesn’t live up to the standard of excellence he set during this run.

The album opens with an ominous piano reminiscent of the introductory moments of DS2’s triumphant “Thought It Was a Drought”, and this forms the backbone of “Ain’t No Time”. Unlike the former beginning track, the latter comes with few euphoric quotables, instead opting for an understated vocal performance that reveals itself as the characteristic marker of the whole album. EVOL is allegedly a concept album about the various forms love takes, but like many a middling romantic comedy, the subject is rarely breached. Instead, the aforementioned song relies on a repetition of concepts spread amongst a single flow, a trait where Future reigned supreme on his previous six releases. Even with producers of the moment Metro Boomin and Southside handling much of the production, the normally emotive rapper comes across as flat throughout EVOL.

Much of this can be attributed to the Auto-Tune that characterized his aesthetic taking a back seat. Transcendental artists, like Future is, enter into symbiotic relationships with their instruments of choice, and his pained raps passed through a guttural sheen of Auto-Tune led to some of the most magnetizing music this decade. Another apparent critique comes from the album’s subject matter. On a track like “Xanny Family”, the Future of Monster-DS2 would’ve painted a vivid journey of his being on the drug(s) of choice, complete with the hidden morals of a cautionary tale. This song, however, doesn’t get much more complicate than “Promethazine, codeine, this shit champagne for us.”

But just as the album lulls, the track sequencing (an underrated part of any album preparation) smartly introduces the bombastic beat of “Lil Haiti Baby”, where his voice traverses the full spectrum that Auto-Tune allows. “Photo Copied” is eminently skippable, serving instead as a contrast to the album’s highlights that bookend it -- “Lil Haiti Baby” and “Seven Rings”. The latter track employs multiple impressive flows in the first verse, and the self-referential nod to his seven projects that have characterized his career’s peak is always welcome. As the album closes with the Weeknd collaboration “Low Life”, a surefire radio staple on the strength of the duo’s star power alone, and “Fly Shit Only”, the pop sensibilities of one of music’s great hook artists shine through. When you’re as talented and consistent as Future is, even with the relative disappointments of Purple Reign and now EVOL, it’s impossible to go too long without discovering good tracks.

Has Future finally hit the point of releasing too much music too quickly? With his devoted fanbase and the legendary mixtape trilogy never too far from being played, does it matter? EVOL doesn’t stand up to his critical peaks, but this could easily be seen as but a release to tide fans over before the next blockbuster. Beast Mode 2 is the next known release, and it would be no surprise whatsoever if another mixtape/album or three appear in the interim. It would be welcome, however, if he reclaimed the intensity of that mixtape’s predecessor.

6


Music


Books


Film


Television


Recent
Film

Buridan's Ass and the Problem of Free Will in John Sturges' 'The Great Escape'

Escape in John Sturge's The Great Escape is a tactical mission, a way to remain in the war despite having been taken out of it. Free Will is complicated.

Books

The Redemption of Elton John's 'Blue Moves'

Once reviled as bloated and pretentious, Elton John's 1976 album Blue Moves, is one of his masterpieces, argues author Matthew Restall in the latest installment of the 33 1/3 series.

Music

Whitney Take a Master Class on 'Candid'

Although covers albums are usually signs of trouble, Whitney's Candid is a surprisingly inspired release, with a song selection that's eclectic and often obscure.

Music

King Buzzo Continues His Reign with 'Gift of Sacrifice'

King Buzzo's collaboration with Mr. Bungle/Fantômas bassist Trevor Dunn expands the sound of Buzz Osborne's solo oeuvre on Gift of Sacrifice.

Music

Jim O'Rourke's Experimental 'Shutting Down Here' Is Big on Technique

Jim O'Rourke's Shutting Down Here is a fine piece of experimental music with a sure hand leading the way. But it's not pushing this music forward with the same propensity as Luc Ferrari or Derek Bailey.

Music

Laraaji Returns to His First Instrument for 'Sun Piano'

The ability to help the listener achieve a certain elevation is something Laraaji can do, at least to some degree, no matter the instrument.

Music

Kristin Hersh Discusses Her Gutsy New Throwing Muses Album

Kristin Hersh thinks influences are a crutch, and chops are a barrier between artists and their truest expressions. We talk about life, music, the pandemic, dissociation, and the energy that courses not from her but through her when she's at her best.

Music

The 10 Best Fleetwood Mac Solo Albums

Fleetwood Mac are the rare group that feature both a fine discography and a successful series of solo LPs from their many members. Here are ten examples of the latter.

Music

Jamila Woods' "SULA (Paperback)" and Creative Ancestry and Self-Love in the Age of "List" Activism

In Jamila Woods' latest single "SULA (Paperback)", Toni Morrison and her 1973 novel of the same name are not static literary phenomena. They are an artist and artwork as galvanizing and alive as Woods herself.

Film

The Erotic Disruption of the Self in Paul Schrader's 'The Comfort of Strangers'

Paul Schrader's The Comfort of Strangers presents the discomfiting encounter with another —someone like you—and yet entirely unlike you, mysterious to you, unknown and unknowable.

Music

'Can You Spell Urusei Yatsura' Is a Much Needed Burst of Hopefulness in a Desultory Summer

A new compilation online pulls together a generous helping of B-side action from a band deserving of remembrance, Scotland's Urusei Yatsura.

Music

Jess Cornelius Creates Tautly Constructed Snapshots of Life

Former Teeth & Tongue singer-songwriter Jess Cornelius' Distance is an enrapturing collection of punchy garage-rock, delicate folk, and arty synthpop anthems which examine liminal spaces between us.

Books

Sikoryak's 'Constitution Illustrated' Pays Homage to Comics and the Constitution

R. Sikoryak's satirical pairings of comics characters with famous and infamous American historical figures breathes new and sometimes uncomfortable life into the United States' most living document.

Music

South African Folk Master Vusi Mahlasela Honors Home on 'Shebeen Queen'

South African folk master Vusi Mahlasela pays tribute to his home and family with township music on live album, Shebeen Queen.

Music

Planningtorock Is Queering Sound, Challenging Binaries, and Making Infectious Dance Music

Planningtorock emphasizes "queering sound and vision". The music industry has its hierarchies of style, of equipment, of identities. For Jam Rostron, queering music means taking those conventions and deliberately manipulating and subverting them.

Music

'History Gets Ahead of the Story' for Jazz's Cosgrove, Medeski, and Lederer

Jazz drummer Jeff Cosgrove leads brilliant organ player John Medeski and multi-reed master Jeff Lederer through a revelatory recording of songs by William Parker and some just-as-good originals.

Books

A Fresh Look at Free Will and Determinism in Terry Gilliam's '12 Monkeys'

Susanne Kord gets to the heart of the philosophical issues in Terry Gilliam's 1995 time-travel dystopia, 12 Monkeys.

Music

The Devonns' Debut Is a Love Letter to Chicago Soul

Chicago's the Devonns pay tribute the soul heritage of their city with enough personality to not sound just like a replica.

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.