For as often as music can simply be entertainment—something fun to listen to in the background of a party or on your way to work—it can just as often be a powerful vehicle for social awareness, protest of government, or simply a bridge to connect on a deeper level with listeners that share similar ideals and feelings.
In a recent interview with Zane Lowe, Future (of all people) was asked about how it feels to have such a massive presence and voice during this particular time in America.
His comments begin around the 0:25 second mark.
"It's sort of a big responsibility, to deliver the right way. Because you know your words are gonna stretch and they're gonna go a long way."
To many, Future's response might be a surprising opinion considering the vast majority of his output. It's not that Future never touches on serious subjects—his music can be vulnerable and introspective (even if he's lying), as he looks inward towards issues with substance abuse and love (or lack thereof)—but does the music ever really display any of the characteristics that border on potential societal impact?
To be clear, I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with that. I’m a genuine Future fan, and there’s always been a place in music for the Futures of the world. In fact, they’re usually more popular and visible than those that take the aforementioned route of distilling societal ills into three-minute songs. But, I have to call it like I see it—Future raps about the same thing on damn near every song, regardless of the state of affairs in America, or anywhere for that matter.
Let’s take Future’s recently released self-titled album, for example. XXL Magazine just recently published an article highlighting 20 of the best lyrics from the album. Care to guess how many mentions of political turmoil, systemic racism, global warming or anything of the sort pop up? If you guessed a big ol’ goose egg, you’d be right.
He does mention Donald Trump, but only in a simile regarding grabbing a female by the vagina. I think most would agree these aren’t exactly “Fight The Power” caliber lyrics.
On the album's most altruistic track, "Feds Did a Sweep," despite providing an account of a police raid, Future doesn't go much further into the prison-industrial complex than a pair of lines concerning a life spent dodging penitentiaries. Like his business associate Drake, even when Future's topics tread into weightier subjects, they rarely go beyond the borders of himself.
I’m not calling on Future to switch his sound and start making pensive protest anthems, far from it. I like the music Future makes right now, and I think it’s an important yin to the yang of those that are making heavier, more thought-provoking music. I listen to Future to hear shit that sounds cool, period. I do not, however, turn on a new Future track expecting a fresh perspective on current affairs.
To be aware of your artistic responsibility during tumultuous times and still make music that doesn’t reflect really reflect that environment is confusing at best, and a wasted platform at worst.
By Brent Bradley. Follow him on Twitter.
Photo Credit: Instagram