Hip-hop recognizes Future, born Nayvadius Wilburn, as a multi-Platinum, GRAMMY-winning trendsetter who doesn’t follow anyone’s rules but his own. Instead of working inside the industry, Future works around it, doing as he pleases from a mountain top built upon his tireless work ethic. Consistency, as much as talent, made him into a superstar.
So it should come as no surprise that Future decided to release his eighth studio album, High Off Life, during a pandemic. While some of his peers are waiting until the storm passes, Future moves forward, releasing new music as if unphased by the world’s tragic predicament. With features from Young Thug, Lil Uzi Vert, Drake, DaBaby, and more, High Off Life is the biggest release of the week, but will it be the best?
In usual 1-Listen album review 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.
1. “Trapped In The Sun”
The atmosphere feels like the beginning of an epic tale of a man turned monster. “That yellow Lambo outside.” Boss talk. Future makes trap music sound like Greek mythology. The bounce is infectious. The production could score a remake of Scarface. Brags on top of brags. Future is a super-villain, and he does not hide it. Future is in his mixtape bag. He has mastered “Former drug dealer who made it out of that life” lyricism, but I heard this story before. Strong start. Will revisit.
2. “HiTek Tek”
Let’s see where he goes. Banger! ATL Jacob tag! The bass would devour a weaker rapper. Future is like a toxic Energizer Bunny who loves any beat that makes him sound like he’s in the center of chaos. “I started off po, but not no mo.” He’s flexing like the rich rapper that he is. A lot of tricks. Future still finds the fun in rap. ATL Jacob is a beast. This song is full of sound effects. I laughed at him bragging about having the Glock on him while sitting courtside. Why sir? Why do you have that on you? The production reminds me of What A Time To Be Alive. This one is good.
3. “Touch The Sky”
Southside production. This is good. “Off the top rope, Andre the Giant.” Future is full of wealthy stunts. Is he one of the best braggers in rap? [Editor’s Note: Yes.] I’m loving this. “I can tell she got a man by the way she text me, nigga.” This man is a monster. “I perform with my drum” is a robust double entendre. Yeah, we have a keeper. I’m a sucker for Future and Southside collabs. These two are mad scientists wreaking havoc. Doctor Robotnik meets Shadow the Hedgehog. Future is the Shadow of hip-hop, and Drake is his Sonic.
4. “Solitaries” feat. Travis Scott
How many collabs does Future have with Travis? Wheezy tag! Shouts to Lil Wayne, lol. Future sounds lively. This man just said, “Coronavirus diamonds you can catch the flu.” Future is his name, outlandish is his language. Travis is getting to it. Not mad, but not in love either. I would have loved it on Travis’ Birds in the Trap Sing McKnight. Skip.
5. “Ridin Strikes”
Every Future album is a reminder that he’s richer than you. “Ridin Strikes” sounds like you should play it in a tank. He’s getting some bars off. My only issue with Future is, the subject matter starts to get stale. He overstuffs his album to the point where I crave a change. Can he hear my thoughts? The beat just switched. A news clip. Oh, this is something. I would watch Future in a bank robber movie. Give him a role like T.I in Takers. Alright, I’ll keep this one.
6. “One of My”
A simple build-up. He’s taking his time with this one. Yep! His vocal texture is the perfect tone for a ghost story. “One of my niggas ain’t got no soul.” YEP! We have the one. Future hangs out with some terrible guys. I wish we had a way of seeing a person’s karma. If Future lives his raps, I know his karma is in dangerous reds. I wish this were the intro. Imagine a Future styled GKMC; that was probably Monster. “One of my niggas ain’t got no soul” is the spookiest lyric of 2020.
7. “Posted With My Demons”
This beat sounds like a bottomless pit of despair. This is not what Tory Lanez meant by Demon Time. Future jumps on haunted beats and tells you about the monsters underneath your bed. High Off Life has been mostly about his past trails and his present riches. “All this dope I sold.” There’s a lot of darkness in this man’s heart. He looks like such a wholesome man. “If the streets don’t kill you first, it will make you strong.” Future makes trap music; real trap music; music that represents the inescapable cycle of darkness that will corrupt saints and cause angels to fall from heaven. Keeper.
8. “Hard To Choose One”
If you like trap Future, this album is for you. Future’s delivery sounds slower than usual. I wonder if that’s because Lil Baby raps so fast. The two have similar perspectives, except Lil Baby has a good heart. He’s practically the Little Mermaid compared to Future’s Ursula. Don’t mind me; I have animation on the brain. Love his flow here. “Load up my rifle; I don’t go to bed.” Future is haunted by something, and no one can convince me otherwise. The last three songs have all been killer.
9. “Trillionaire” feat. YoungBoy Never Broke Again
Jeff Bezos is going to make this song his ringtone. Youngboy is taking advantage of all the attention he’s garnished over the last year or so. Future aligns himself with young rappers who compliment him. Future is singing his heart out. I kind of missed him singing. Youngboy is singing, too. This is a started from the bottom rap ballad. “Trillionaire” might be the breakout record. YouTube views are going to be crazy.
10. “Harlem Shake” feat. Young Thug
I have a good feeling about this one. “Choppa make them do the Harlem Shake.” Future loves to rap over beats that sound like they would play in a strip club with a low health score. Just filthy. Thugger! I wish the tempo were a few BPM faster. Thug was cool. He didn’t explode as I expected him. That was mild. A cherry bomb, not an atomic one. Eh, not in love. Feels lazy. Skip.
11. “Up The River”
Maybe it’s because I’ve been in the house, but High Off Life sounds like an outside album, not a quarantine album. Future didn’t make this album for a world socially distancing. Okay! We got some heartfelt reflection. The super-villain dropped the act. Nevermind. “Got no room for mistakes.” Can someone please put Future in the studio with Mir Fontane. Those two would make something crazy. I hope the second half leans into this direction.
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12. “Pray For A Key”
Out of all the things Future could pray for, he prays for a “key.” Super-villain. There’s some premium trauma on this album, word to my boy Michael Penn II. “I been dying to go berserk.” Not a bad record. I like the production. The synth in the background is a nice touch. “Used to pray for a key.” This is... Cool.
13. “Too Comfortable”
“Bitch, don’t get too comfortable.” Sheesh, that’s how you feel, man? I wish we could get a For The Love of Future reality show. That would be premium television. We got something here. I like the production; I also like the tone, flow, and energy. Future is such a subtle talker. No matter what he says, it never sounds as malicious as the words are. Who made this beat? It’s gorgeous. [Editor’s Note: Southside.] Oh, he just mentioned his son. He’s opening up. Dang, that was short-lived. What is Future’s real-life like? He’s a mystery. It’s part of the allure. “Better not get too comfortable.” I’ll keep this one—the most personal song on the album. Well, besides the one about his friends with no souls.
14. “All Bad” feat. Lil Uzi Vert
I love how shameless Future is. He doesn’t care if you judge him; his life is his life. Uzi brought a change in sound. All his beats sound like they belong in video games. Gotta love the colorfulness. “I’m from a whole different world.” I believe it, sir. “My nickname is Yung Spendit.” That’s a solid nickname haha. This one is a trampoline. I love that Uzi is back to releasing music. He’s a walking cartoon. “I am way smarter than you.” Baby Pluto and Pluto Sr. are a good combo. “If I hang up, don’t call back at all.” Future is a rap star who doesn’t dim his light for no one. I wonder when was the last time he apologized to someone. Probably never. You don’t become a superstar apologizing.
15. “Outer Space Bih”
The keys are gorgeous. Future has a solid beat selection. They’re distinctive, but only a handful stand out. This one does. “I’m a driving drug store.” I see “Outer Space Bih” being a favorite. “I got two G Wagons in my ears.” Future stunts are becoming more impressive. I see why he and Drake get along. They like to make us all feel poor. Keeper.
16. “Accepting My Flaws”
This title sounds like an outro. Who is that? Dang, someone is ranting. I wonder how Future would acknowledge his flaws? 808 Mafia tag. Yes! Man, this sounds like driving a hellcat in hell. Feels like a Future classic. HE’S GETTING TO IT. “Drink my blood, baby, we going digital.” I hope we never find out what Future does in his private life. I know it’s nothing good. Two minutes in and I’m ready to run it back. He’s on a roller-coaster. “Fuck them all, we don’t show them sympathy.” So far, not one mention of his flaws. I love it. “Lord forgive me I been on a rampage.” He has been fighting his demons; he’s been fighting the cup. Oh man, this is good. Easily the best record on the album.
17. “Life Is Good” feat. Drake
I like this record. It’s Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde in rap form. “Baby got an ego twice the size of the crib.” Can’t imagine a woman with an ego bigger than Drake’s mansion. I can’t believe these two dropped this song in January, and life immediately got bad. How Future catches the beat switch is something serious. Lyrically, he sounds so alive. “Life Is Good” is one of his best rap performances on the album. He gets into a completely different zone when Drake is featured. Rap would sound completely different without Future. “Life Is Good” is a keeper, but this album doesn’t need to continue.
18. “Last Name” feat. Lil Durk
“I take care of families.” Oh, wait, we have something. This is sweet. Melodic Future bleeding it out. “I can’t go to sleep, I’m too paranoid.” I guess that’s why he wants a Draco in London. Being that famous can’t be fun. Lil Durk sounds great. Pray that all rappers get the healing they deserve. So many great songs inspired by deep sorrow. “Laughing to the bank got me running wild.” Future and Durk tag-teaming the last verse was sweet.
One day, Future will realize that we don’t need 21 songs. “Took that Draco on a PJ, I ain’t playing.” Man, this album is a paranoia parade. As much as I like confessional Future, I feel like he told us everything we needed to know about his life in the streets on “Sorry.” “Tycoon” is a good song, but this deep into the album, it’s not hitting as hard as it should. Bloated albums do a disservice to the deeper cuts. Admittedly, bloated albums are terrible for 1 Listens. It’s like being held hostage in a studio. [Editor’s Note: I apologize.] Okay, that was a little dramatic. Good record, though.
20. “100 Shooters” feat. Meek Mill & Doe Boy
Tay Keith tag! Okay! These hi-hats just woke me up. A nice Nas/Belly reference. Meek! I haven’t played any Meek lately. Hearing his voice is refreshing. I could use a new Meek project. [Editor’s Note: He’s working on one.] Man, Future does not care about these ladies’ broken hearts. I’m sure he breaks up with women just to rap about it. This is a good record. I would’ve liked this song earlier in the album. Doe Boy! This is a solid performance. I would like on a gym playlist. Nothing says leg day like having 100 shooters outside.
21. “Life Is Good [Remix]” feat. Drake, DaBaby & Lil Baby
This album is longer than the wait at Red Lobster on Mother’s Day. “Help me fight my demons.” At what age should you be expected to deal with your demons alone? I didn’t mean that. We all deserve a shoulder to lean on, no matter your age. I can’t wait until Future drops a gospel redemption album. It’s going to be glorious. “Halloween gang in this bitch.” Why is Drake credited on this? My man did not come back as a guest star. The beat switch is meaner than a classroom of toddlers on silent lunch. DaBaby! Such a great rap voice. He found a good pocket. He delivered a strong guest verse. “You a throwaway, baby, it’s okay.” Man, rappers can be so savage. Lil Baby! The pure-hearted gangster. His flow is something else—a rapping roadrunner. I hope Lil Baby will always rap like the cops are about to raid the studio, and he has to finish the verse before they kick the door in.
Final (First Listen) Thoughts on Future’s High Off Life
Future’s High Off Life is a journey through a terrain of toxic lust, sleepless paranoia, wealthy boasts, and deep-seated trauma. Mostly, it’s another chapter from the book of Nayvadius. We have a familiar gospel on our hands.
High Off Life features Future giving the people what they expect. We have a hopeless romantic who relishes the ghosts of his past and refuses to look away from the prosperity of his present. The 36-year-old rap innovator delivers another long-winded recollection of guns, glory, girls, drugs, and demons with suave flows and hypnotic cadences over hard-hitting production from the usual suspects.
To his credit, Future understands that he is a roller-coaster. The kind of artist who follows a designated path of loops, twists, and turns without losing the rush that makes each ride thrilling. High Off Life adds 21 new attractions to his dark, twisted theme park. It’s just that, we’ve all been here before.