“Love is just a word, it don't matter to me / I got so rich, nothing matters to me” —Future
Buried under warm blankets of Auto-Tune, feeling like a casual afterthought, those warped and warbled words spill out from Future's mouth within the first 90 seconds of “Never Stop,” the opening track on his new project Future Hndrxx Presents: The WIZRD.
That line is a calculated move. Seemingly effortless but meticulously planned. It feels simple, but it’s far more elaborately complicated than any “spiritual empirical satirical lyrical miracle” multi-syllable rhyme ever written. Future sums up the thesis of The WIZRD in that bar. It’s Future declaring the most grueling type of psychological warfare.
A competitive breakup.
If it wasn't clear before his latest release, Future has become our lord and savior of male pettiness—our king. The WIZRD is not an album; it's an inauguration. The WIZRD is the sonic embodiment of a competitive breakup: just 61 minutes of Future angrily telling us how amazing his life is.
And I love it.
Male pettiness is a cornerstone of rap, but Future has mastered it. Drake tries to bury his male pettiness under a “nice guy” image, a fuckboy disguising himself as a sensitive soul. A cowardly move. Eminem’s male pettiness went too far and ended up manifesting as graphic murder fantasies. The pettiness was admirable, but it needed waaaaay more subtlety. Future’s pettiness rests in a happy medium.
Male pettiness permeates our culture. Some like to call it “toxic masculinity,” but I think that’s offensive. The term “toxic masculinity” excludes dudes like me who are toxic but not masculine. And as toxic men, we obsess over “winning” breakups. Some dudes do it through social media posts to make it seem like their life is a blast. Future does it through catchy-yet-eerie party jams and a nonstop parade of sexual and financial boasts. And it is nothing short of magnificent.
The pettiness on The WIZRD is so thick you could pour it on a fat stack of flapjacks.
Future only made this album to piss off his ex, Ciara. Any money or radio play he earns is just a side effect. If that’s not a hero, I don't know what is.
Future indulges in the archetypal baller anthems that define mainstream rap (“Jumpin on a Jet,” “Faceshot," and “Crushed Up”). But each money flaunt, and party tale is paired with a spirited middle finger towards his ex-lovers. Future is living his best life, and he needs them to know it.
“Promise U That” is Future promising his ex that his night is going to be better than hers—whether it’s because he’s leaving the club in his private jet or leaving with some random chick. Does he believe that? Irrelevant. It slaps.
“Came in a car, you gon' leave in a jet, I can promise you thatCame by myself, I'ma leave with your friends, I can promise you thatCame in a car, and you gon' leave in a jet, I can promise you thatNever met no n***a richer than me, I can promise you that”
Out of every flavor in the world, Future chooses to be salty. On “Stick to the Models,” he makes it clear that he hates monogamy. The whole song is essentially him letting his ex know how much sex he’s been having.
“I'ma just stick to the models and hit itI'ma just stick to the guala and get itI can't come up short, I'm goin' to get itI can afford to keep all my bitches”
A classic competitive breakup move. The number-one rule of a breakup is to make sure your ex thinks you’re drowning to death in a sea of snatches. Future knows this, which is why that theme permeates the project. In the second verse of "Krazy But True," he mysteriously alludes to past flames, and once again mentions how well he’s doing in the “getting laid” department.
“I don't do side bitches, they all my bitches, I ain't tryna hide bitches”
Future is bragging about all his women with the wholesome straightforwardness of a Dr. Suess book. You almost expect the next line to be “I got one bitch, two bitches, red bitches, blue bitches.”
Typical hip-hop boasts on tracks like “Call the Coroner” and “Ain’t Coming Back” still have a tangible bitterness to them. A tinge of arrogant anger casts a shadow over the entire album. Underneath the surface of every recited bar is Future wanting to say, “LOOK AT HOW WELL I’M DOING WITHOUT YOU!”
Future even uses reverse psychology. On “Temptation,” he raps about his temptation to give in to his vices (including endless sex) and pretends to frown about it. On “Goin Dummi,” he warns himself about women who don't deserve him. Future needs to let his ex know that he gets so much ass that it's become “depressing” to him. It’s an elaborate humblebrag. This game is chess, not checkers.
As if to drive my point home, the Internet recently called out Future for insulting his ex Ciara and saying her husband (Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson) is “not a real man.” Slamming your ex's new dude is in the first paragraph of the Competitive Breakup Handbook™️. No matter who your old girl is dating, you’re contractually obligated to attack his masculinity. Last Christmas, I drunkenly tweeted about how I could beat my ex-girlfriend's fiancé in an MMA match. Despite its inaccuracy, I was legally required to say it.
Us petty men have had many kings in the past. John Mayer was the king of male pettiness for some time (we called it The Dark Ages), as was Tiger Woods (still the first golfer in history to have sex). Hell, even Dane Cook was our king for 11 days back in 2006 (The Darker Ages). But right now, Future has the crown, and I can’t imagine him losing it.
The game of competitive breakups has changed forever because Future released the new Bible for ‘em. January 2019 will go down in history as when Future gave confidence to millions of fuckboys who already had too much confidence to begin with. Beautiful.
All hail Future, the patron saint of male pettiness.