The Internet has struggled to find room for the avalanche of recent Future releases.
Future, one of the larger fish wading in the Atlantic-sized Atlanta hip hop scene, has been spewing mixtapes like Lindsay Lohan spits word vomit in Mean Girls. His latest release, Dirty Sprite 2 – the second Future album in less than a year-and-a-half – punctuates a run of Interregnum mixtapes that represents the excellence of his gushing introspection. In Future’s hands, the mixtape is a liberating quasi-form instead of an oft-unanswered prayer. But his output, so obscene in measure, is unprecedented to the point of precariousness. Indulging is impossible without wondering if, in thriving on the horizon of expression, the naked proclamations will eventually become “wait a minute…actual vomit?”
I was fortunate in high school to never barf on the dreamy high school quarterback’s lap at a house party. (Primarily because the girlfriend of said quarterback was so beautiful and she was so into my sensitive badass thing and he was so not treating her right.) But, in taking advantage of the opportunity to attend a prestigious educational institution on the level of the University of Iowa, I have punctuated a prolific number of nights expelling partially digested Pancheros burritos. Like snowflakes, each of these puking episodes is unique. Some are red. Some are blue. Some are two fish.
While the byproduct of my debauchery is yucky and attracts flies, Future’s post-Ciara tenure as the anti-Russel Wilson has been defined, in spite of the Internet’s insatiable gut, by a gluttonous accumulation of sterling releases. The aforementioned DS2 dropped July 2015. 56 Nights, March 2015. Beast Mode, January 2015. Monster, October 2014. Honest – a full-length studio album featuring Pusha T (!), Lil Wayne (!!), Drake (!!!), Pharrell (!!!!), Kanye West (!!!!!), Andre 3000 (!!!!!!!!!!), and noted Paul Walker eulogist, Wiz Khalifa – April 2014. That is a total of 65 songs. And yet, those 65 do not remotely encompass the T-Rexian footprint of Future’s frequent feature spots and ubiquitous ghostwriting that includes Beyonce’s “Drunk In Love” and Drake’s “Started From The Bottom.”
As evidenced by the unexpected release of his “Drunk In Love” collaborator’s self-titled album, Beyonce, the current media infrastructure has proven unaccommodating to innovation. Look no further than the delayed success of “Fuck Up Some Commas,” a no-doubter that resides on 2014’s Monster, yet wasn’t welcomed into regular rotation until earlier this year. Each of Future’s releases has, somehow, diluted those before it. This phenomena speaks to the fact that, while artists are still learning how to best utilize the Internet and their management is still learning how to monetize the Internet, listeners are still learning how to ingest the Internet’s offerings. The mixtape is not a work of Jackson Pollack. Enjoyment of a mixtape is not in accepting the entire chaos as an ironically-purposeful beauty. The mixtape is vomit. Some pieces are appetizing and some pieces smell like death. The beauty is the act of the artist’s gag-and-heave.
OnDemand is another offering that consumers have had similar difficulty embracing. It’s too infinite. There’s comfort in the structure of a channel guide. Choosing any movie from forevereverforeverever is to be privileged to the extent of feeling guilty. You, alone, bear the brunt of your decision. “Netflix and chill” may be fully integrated into the lexicon as a polite euphemism for “come over and fuck,” but man, choosing an acceptable Netflix offering is much more daunting than nervously sliding your hand to the northern regions of your date’s thigh. OnDemand so radically alters the consumption of television that it strips away an intangible piece that, up until now, had been integral – even if inconvenient – to the experience.
Perhaps it is the proximity between OnDemand and cable, the mixtape and the album, that causes consumers to conflate the two. Our need to adapt through familiarity. As forms, each is its own. Each should be approached and appreciated in its own way.
Future is inviting us to indulge. And indulge I will. Even after I’ve thrown it all up.