In a recent interview with the French video channel Clique TV, Future sat down and said that he's not a drug addict and he doesn't actually live the drug-addled life he sing-raps about, an admission that cracks the foundation his dirty sprite empire is built on. And unlike Future's drug use, that's no exaggeration.
Hardcore drug use isn't just a part of Future's music, it is his music. 56 Nights, Dirty Sprite 2, Purple Reign, all of his recent project titles are drug references, and those projects are overflowing with Actavis; twelve of the thirteen songs on Purple Reign prominently mention drug use. I'm hard-pressed to think of any rapper who raps about anything as much as Future raps about drugs. Future even makes more references to lean alone on Purple Reign than Wiz makes about weed on Cabin Fever 3 (yes, I counted). Future's far from the first rapper to pour lean into his music, but he's certainly upped the ante. This isn't "pop a molly," this is a liter of lean also filled with Xanax pills, a dosage not even Wayne in his "I feel like dying" era dared to touch. Future didn't start the drug wave, but he turned it into a highly profitable tsunami that now appears to have been generated more by marketing savvy than autobiography.
Of course, it could be Future's music that's truthful and he was lying in the interview, minimizing his drug use because he didn't want the interview to be used against him in an ongoing custody battle. But whether he's lying in his lyrics or this interview, the gap between the two is just now too large for him to not be lying somewhere.
Future's Clique Interview: "It’s the timing. I don’t have to do it [drugs] all the time.”
Future's Music: "56 bars all in one month nigga and I'm still dranking." - "56 Nights"
Future's Clique Interview: “I don't have to do it. It's not a thing I have to do. I am sober."
Future's Music: "I pour out yellow tuss, I pour out yellow tuss / Cause I gotta have it" - "Inside the Mattress"
Future's Clique Interview: "I’m not like super drugged out or [a] drug addict."
Future's Music: "I'm an addict and I can't even hide it." - "Codeine Crazy"
Future's Clique Interview: "When I did Monster, I was sober."
Future's Music: "Out my mind nigga, I'm so gone off that soda / Fuck the soda rover, I just poured up a 4 up." - "Radical" (off Monster)
Whenasked to explain why so much of his music is about addiction if he is not, in fact, an addict, Future gave what feels like too honest of an answer to feel like anything but the truth; "Because I feel like that’s the number one thing everybody likes to talk about...It's the number one seller." And if that's true, then it turns out that Future is far more advertising executive than lean-sipper, more marketing genius than astronaut.
If this seems like breaking news, it's not. The interview was released and widely posted days ago, but the largest media outlets completely pretended like that portion of the interview never happened at all, leaving it to Watchloud to finally point out the obvious. Complex, Fader, MTV, they detailed all of the interview's major positive points while somehow completely passing over the part when music's leading drug user said that he exaggerates his drug use to sell records. Maybe they didn't actually watch the entire interview they wrote about (it happens), maybe they didn't want to risk alienating Future and cutting off future interviews (it happens), or maybe they just didn't actually think it was newsworthy. Maybe they just didn't care, but I do.
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First, I care because it makes me feel stupid for being tricked. For years I never felt compelled enough by Future to work up much of an opinion either way, but I listened to DS2 with an open mind and found myself connecting with something in the music, something I chalked up to a new level of honesty and emotional vulnerability he was displaying. I listen to some music as an escapist fantasy, but I only truly connect with honest music, and Future's addiction felt honest. While there's never really ever a downside to The Weeknd's also greatly exaggerated drug addiction, Future seemingly wasn't afraid to call his drug use more hell than heaven. And so when he said, “Drownin' in Actavis, suicide” I believed him, because who would rap about committing slow suicide by lean unless they actually were? I pride myself on being able to recognize the truth in music, but I bought into Future's drug use, and now I feel like a kid whose parents had to tell him Santa wasn't real because he'd grown past the age when he should have figured it out for himself.
Truthfully, though, it's not just that I was tricked, it's because I was tricked about drug addiction. Rappers have been glamorizing and marketing all sorts of vices for decades, murder for example, but while I've written about rappers who use violence as a marketing tool, I've written about drug addiction much more because while I can certainly recognize murder as a terrible thing, I've never known anyone who's been murdered. I just don't have the kind of personal connection to it that would compel me to stay up all night writing.
But addiction? I know addiction. Addiction has so thoroughly rotted my family tree that there are only a few leaves left, a chainsaw's teeth are almost finished tearing through the trunk. I never knew my grandfather, he drank himself to death when my father was just a kid himself. That's the truth. My uncle died alone, his heart finally collapsing after decades of being battered by drugs and booze. That's the truth. My cousin chose Oxycontin over life and lost his spouse, but it wasn't until the Oxy turned into heroin that he broke into his childhood home and stole my Aunt's TV. That's the truth. Last week I sat on a metal folding chair in a circle, listening to a man talk about how chronic drinking had swollen his fingers so grotesquely he couldn't hold a pen to fill out his hospital intake form. That's the truth. None of those stories would sell albums, but they're the truth.
And so when Future says in that Clique interview that real drug addicts feel like they can relate to him, and those who aren't drug addicts look to his music for insight about what addiction's really like, he's only lying to everyone. There's really no other way to say it. I'm not outraged, not organizing a boycott, not starting a hashtag campaign to bring Future down. But no matter the subject matter, my only real standard for art is honesty.
Don't claim to be a political activist in your rhymes when the only marching you're doing is on Twitter, and don't claim to be a drug addict in your rhymes when you're not. Drug addiction is not a marketing tool, not a wave to hop on. It doesn't sound like a number one hit, it sounds like Mac Miller's brother wondering if he's still alive, like Danny Brown sinking deeper into depression, like Freddie Gibbs openly saying he was addicted to lean on the Mic Check podcast, like ScHoolboy Q's daughter not being able to wake up him up. And when Q's questioned about that addiction, there's no gap between his music and his interviews, only the kind of unflinching truth that at the very least offers other struggling addicts a moment of genuine connection with one of their heroes.
"Lean gives you such stomach pain. I'll never forget the time I was at South by Southwest and had to do all these shows, and I sitting on the couch curled up, hours of pain...That wasn't the moment I quit, that was the moment when I said I need more." - ScHoolboy Q, Angie Martinez interview
Jimi Hendrix died at 27-years-old, choking on his own vomit after mixing alcohol and powerful painkillers, leaving behind a legacy of uncompromisingly honest art. I don't want Future Hendrix to suffer the same fate. I wish the man nothing but sobriety and happiness, but as any addict will tell you, there is no sobriety, no happiness, without honesty.
So more than anything, I wish Future the courage to make honest music, because right now it appears his true addiction is accumulating money at all costs, even if it costs him the truth.