High Off Life has the requisite Future bravado to sustain a record, but is mostly only good enough to remind what he is at his best.
Checking back in on Future, as we do every 12 months or so now, and he seems to be doing great. Not unlike last year’s The Wizrd, this latest release finds Future luxuriating in his success, flaunting his rock star status. Future spent his time in between these releases flirting with the idea of revisiting a couple of his most iconic collaborative projects, but High Off Life makes it clear that Nayvadius Williams is still confidently operating in his own lane. His latest is a confident flex from an artist who has moved on from the conflicts that drove his early career, and is now taking the time to survey his strengths and successes. As such, Future’s 8th studio album looks to restage what has worked before (this album sees DJ Esco being brought back into the fold as exec producer) while inevitably having to lower the stakes. That said, at 70 minutes, the stakes don’t necessarily feel diminished, and while there are still thrills to be had listening to Future outline his debaucherous lifestyle, the introspective bent has been subsumed by passive celebration. As the title sort of jokingly implies, Future finds validation in the excess and comfort of his lifestyle, his tumultuous relationship with codeine no longer such an immediate concern.
But the project isn’t without merit: the lower stakes keep it from competing with the peaks of Future’s output, but also give the rapper and his collaborators space to do the best version of what they do. Album openers “Trapped in the Sun”, “HiTek Tek,” and “Ridin Strikers” remind us that Future is a spirited lyricist in his own right, having a real knack for coming up with vaguely ominous nonsensical phrases to build hooks from. The inevitable parade of guests and vocal assists pans out with some inspired work from Lil Uzi echoing their inspired pairing on Eternal Atake (Deluxe), and a prime appearance from the ascendant YoungBoy NBA. Young Thug even shows up on a song about doing the Harlem Shake entitled “Harlem Shake”! It’s these moments of inspired audacity that always make it worth returning to Future’s world, but one must wonder when he’ll opt to push forward once more.
Published as part of What Would Meek Do? | Q2 2020 Issue – Part 1.