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.

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.



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

“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.


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.





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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


​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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


While the Sun Shines: An Interview with Composer Joe Wong

Joe Wong, the composer behind Netflix's Russian Doll and Master of None, articulates personal grief and grappling with artistic fulfillment into a sweeping debut album.

Collapse Expand Reviews

Collapse Expand Features

PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

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