Another week, another collaborative album between two hip-hop artists. Whereas previous joint ventures by JAY-Z and Kanye West, Quavo and Travis Scott, and Lil Wayne and T-Pain all came after the duos created a history of music together, today's co-stars, Future and Juice WRLD, are a first-time union.
Taking two stars that haven’t shared a creative space together is a daring twist. There isn't exactly a huge demand for Future’s Auto-Tuned tales of debauchery mixed with Juice WRLD’s heartfelt punk ache, but considering their shared affinity for soul-touching melodies and drug-inspired sincerity, the combination isn't the strangest tag team. With the skyrocketing popularity of Juice WRLD, especially following the mega-success of “Lucid Dreams,” and Future’s solidified status as trap music’s favorite oversaturator, Future & Juice WRLD Present... WRLD ON DRUGS—yes, that is the official full-length title—has the potential to be a commercial hit.
Can Future and Juice WRLD recreate the successful splash that Lil Baby and Gunna made with their joint project, Drip Harder? The first and only single from WRLD ON DRUGS, “Fine China,” is a strange, yet addictive listen. The Atlanta-Chicago connection show promise together; the signs of musical compatibility that make me hopeful.
In usual 1-Listen fashion, the rules are the same: no skipping, no fast-forwarding, no rewinding, and no stopping. Each song will receive my gut reaction from start to finish. The antithesis to J. Cole's KOD has arrived.
1. "Jet Lag" ft. Young Scooter
Future is singing about acquiring drugs with the joy of a mother singing about her newborn. The best actor of my generation. An interesting beat to open the album with. It’s messy; the chords and these drums are clashing. Juice rapping with Future doing ad-libs is a joy. I’m happy to hear him rapping from the start. "Jet Lag" is not bad, but I’m not thrilled about the production. I like Juice’s cadence. Scooter said rappers are fake because of their fake chains and he’s probably right. I need to peep whatever tape Scooter put out last; the features he’s given Future this year have all been good. Over a different beat, I’d likely be more into this record. “Got the whole world drinking dirty.” Weird flex but ok.
Finally, astronauts have an anthem. “We don’t detox,” Future gon' Future. This is more like it. Nice keys, nice bounce. The two are doing the fusion dance across this beat. I like the seamless mic pass back and forth. The Boondocks line was solid. Juice just accused someone of having cooties. How old is this man? And Future is talking about having blood in his eyes. It’s What a Time To Be Alive all over again. Future tends to turn in his best verses for collab tapes. He is sounding strong out the gate. I’ll run this back.
3. "Fine China"
On first listen, I definitely thought Juice WRLD was Swae Lee. “Fine China” sounds like a Sremm record that would’ve fit in somewhere between the first two albums. I’m not in love with Juice’s vocal pitch on this record, but I do like how annoyingly catchy it is. Rappers have to stop threatening women who don’t want them anymore with murder. It’s 2018, guys. Toxic relationship romanticism is no longer acceptable. Future comes in very passionately. The two have a good energy. I like the contrast of their vocal textures. A very short effort from Hendrix. I see hit potential here. I’m liable to skip it on any given Sunday, though.
4. "Red Bentley" ft. Young Thug
Future speaks. Murda Beatz drop. The drums did not let Nas down. Future sounds as comfortable as a group of gold-diggers in a room filled with NBA lottery picks. “Red Bentley” is the subtle thrill of whipping an expensive foreign car through American traffic with no regard for anyone's safety or well-being. Future’s imagery is expensive wine exquisite. Thugger entered with a Mortal Kombat bar, and I’ve found my early favorite. Slime did not phone it in. Juice was suddenly summoned. You can tell he’s a student of Future. Rumble, young man rumble. Their hair is gold and their eyes are green on this one. A keeper.
5. "Make It Back"
The first solo record begins with Juice WRLD reflecting on being Xan high in high school. A filthy beat, like a spacey playground of muddy shoes. I like the melodic cadence a great deal. Dare I say Future-esque. An Icky Vicky into a Timmy Timmy line. The Fairly OddParents bars will always be appreciated in this house. The fact a rapper hasn’t made a cover of “My Shiny Teeth and Me” should be a crime. Not bad, not bad. I’ll play again.
6. "Oxy" ft. Lil Wayne
Future and Lil Wayne! This is their second collaboration this year. The pitch on Future’s voice is hilariously absurd. Weezy! The astronaut delivered his verse from Cloud 9. There’s been a bounce to Wayne’s flows lately. He hopscotches in the pockets like a smooth stone skipping across a purple lake. Not bad, not bad. The success of “King’s Dead” has Future sounding like he sucked in helium and recorded himself singing into wall mount fan. This worked well once but hearing him try a similar style isn’t as appealing, though. Bizarre isn’t the word. Regular-voice Future returned just to say he has a lot of drugs. We know.
7. "7 AM Freestyle"
Keys. Juice said it’s 7 a.m. and they've been sipping all night. I wouldn’t be surprised if this entire album was one long William S. Burroughs drug binge. Wheezy drop. This is a real freestyle. It sounds like two artists in the booth just going back and forth. “Haven’t been to sleep in a week,” someone send Future to a doctor. Future is wide awake, but the fatigue in Juice’s voice is very obvious. He does drugs, but drugs are Future. If it wasn’t for the beat I would be on the fence. I wish Juice spit the same bars from his Tim Westwood freestyle.
8. "Different" ft. Yung Bans
I love the shortness of these records. I wonder how many of them were done in one take. Now, this is an interesting beat. Future sounds like he dipped his vocal chords in the double cup before singing. The bass is disgusting. The production was made in a graveyard during a full moon. SO MANY DRUG REFERENCES. Did J. Cole teach us nothing?!? Yung Bans snapped and Juice came in with his lighter full of fluid. The song title is right—it’s different—but I like this one.
It's sounding like sunshine. Loving Future’s vocals. Yep, we might have us one that could go. I can see "Shorty" getting repetitive, but the production and their melodies are an instant win. They are truly in sync, no Justin. These kicks! You have to shoot dance with your significant other to this one. Barely two minutes. But I like a lot.
10. "Realer N Realer"
Juice WRLD’s presence has Future appearing over some interesting trap sounds. Not completely outside of his norm, but different compared to his recent releases. Another keeper. Loving the up-tempo. Juice is going apeshit on the monkey bars. There's so much personality in this production. Punchy stuff. “I got a lean stain on it,” hahaha. Rappers talking about getting stains on their expensive garments will never not be ridiculously hilarious. Okay, Future. The line about turning a stripper into a maid and bringing magic to the crib is a bar. This would’ve been my pick for the first single but they didn't ask me. It’s trap with a touch of that pop magic.
11. "No Issue"
These two have been talking about falling out of love with Xanax for 11 songs. But still, they pop. How many drugs were present during this studio sessions!? The guitar, vocal sample, and drum pattern are all doing it for me. This is probably the oddest-composed beat these two have rapped over. Juice mentions Future a lot, which tells me a lot of his verses were done on the spot. Authentic. The second verse is Future sounding like a tired turtle rapping in slow motion. The song is strange but a nice change from the norm.
12. "WRLD On Drugs"
The title track. The guitar loop builds up nicely. Would have preferred different drums. I like what this could’ve been. Future and Juice sound good together. It’s solid. Catchy hook. The knocking on your door/Jehovah line is Peak Future. “If I’m sober I might be dead.” Someone get this man into a therapist’s chair.
A solo Future record. I wonder what Future’s heaven looks like? I imagine roads paved in styrofoam and fountains filled with Actavis. Production is mellow, quite soothing. I like this. “I’m a product of the field I’m just in my disguise” is in the running for my favorite bar thus far. Did he record this during the session for this album? It’s so good! Every bar is a bar. “I’ve done birthed a lot of lil' niggas, I’m their father” and he isn’t lying. Keeper.
14. "Ain't Living Right" ft. Gunna
When Future is singing like this, he becomes trap music’s Elvis. Repeating “I ain’t living right” is a surefire way to have a hit. I’ll sing this one from the gut. Gunna! Eh, not head over heels with his verse but he’s floating something serious. Juice comes in with a nice switch-up. I’m worried about all the parties involved in the making of this album. I don’t think lean is to be chugged, Juice. “I don’t sell drugs, I cop them” is the most 2018 rap lyric yet. I wish Future had a verse. Eh, someone edit and loop the hook for me.
15. "Transformer" ft. Nicki Minaj
It sounds like they sampled Megatron on this buildup. NickiHndrxx. Nice beat, nice tempo. A floating Future has appeared. He’s on jet skies. If Rick Ross makes selling drugs sound like a luxury sport, Future makes doing drugs sound like an extreme sport. I can see him competing in a substance abuse Olympics. Nicki came in with flavor. I like her vocal tone and flow. Very Mixtape Nicki. Hahaha, this billy goat line. I’m not totally let down by this. A few lines fell flat, but it was an album-worthy performance.
16. "Hard Work Pays Off"
Juice will become a featured guest who rappers call on to perform the chorus. Write this down. He has the voice and melodies. But this verse isn’t it. I’m not gripped at all. “Call my doctor to handle my pain.” Some good ideas here, but I’m not completely sold. Future has to bring it home. Damn, I wish this was a Future solo song. This beat is tailored for him. “I been traumatized before but still I’m not afraid,” and the cries for help continue. I’ll have to edit Juice off this one. I don’t have any intentions of hearing that first verse again, but Fu delivered.
Final (first listen) thoughts on WRLD ON DRUGS:
WRLD ON DRUGS isn’t boring. The vocal contrast between Future, Juice WRLD, and the personality-filled trap production creates a vibrancy that’s far more bright than bland. The album cover, illustrated by Atlanta’s own Paper Frank, is a perfect representation of the drug-inspired content and the hue each drug is rapped in. Two rapper-singers sharing their struggles with substance abuse contrasted by braggadocious stunting has never sounded so rich with color.
Importantly, Future and Juice WRLD are comfortable sharing songs together. There’s a chemistry between the two creative strangers that forms a natural connection. Their music and themes are similar enough where neither sounds like a visitor in the other’s home. Sonically, the balance makes for some interesting and noteworthy highs.
Yet, where the album falls short is in its execution. WRLD ON DRUGS sounds rushed in spaces and careless in others. It’s pretty obvious this album was a loose effort; just two creators who turned a vampire-esque studio session into a drug-inspired gift to their respected fan bases.
Future and Juice WRLD had the right idea deciding to join forces, and the rushed setting actually allowed for a few bolts of lightning to be caught in their bottle. Trimming the tracklisting from 16 down to 10 would’ve cut some the unnecessary fat and allowed the promise of their union to truly shine. Hopefully, if this isn’t just a one-off novelty endeavor, the two will realize what is potent and what is mid.
WRLD ON DRUGS provides a high, just not as high as the creators claim to be.
By Yoh, aka Yoh WRLD aka @Yoh31
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