by Aaron Rhodes
The introduction to “Purple Reign” is ominous. The sounds of lightning and pouring rain are present. You can hear “Where Ya At” (Future’s collaboration with fellow superstar Drake) faintly playing inside a car before the door shuts and someone (presumably Future) steps out into the stormy Atlanta night.
“Purple Reign” is Future’s first mixtape back after two very successful albums in 2015 (“Dirty Sprite 2” in July followed by his joint album with Drake, “What A Time To Be Alive,” in September). For many rappers it often takes a year or two to craft another project and release it to the public, but not for Future. He has already released five full-length albums and mixtapes since last January and his fans have loved every single one of them. That type of feat is one unmatched by virtually every other rapper in the game.
After Future’s quiet, but still grand entrance, the listener is given “All Right” and “Wicked.” The two songs aren’t magnificent in and of themselves, but Metro Boomin and Southside (the tracks’ producers) are still at the top of their game, and they set the mood for the rest of the mixtape. The first moment of the tape that surely had the Future Hive (the rapper’s fanbase) jumping out of their seats was “Never Forget.”
On this track Future boastfully declares “I dedicated every damn thing to this/I had to take a loss so I could cherish this s**t.” Future has had his share of ups and downs in life, including most recently breaking off an engagement to R&B singer Ciara. Ciara gave birth to Future’s first son in 2014, and after the breakup he has been fighting in court for his right to see him. Despite his custody battles and years of selling drugs, dodging the law and seeing his family locked up and addicted to drugs, Future beats his chest and stands defiant.
One thing afforded to him via his fame is a large mainstream audience. In what may be a reference to this, at the beginning of the track “Run Up” Future says “The KKK and the streets with me,” possibly referring to his growing white audience. I might be looking at this a bit too closely, but either way, it paints a surreal picture, and that’s what some of the best trap music often does.
Just like any other Future release, “Purple Reign” is full of references to sipping codeine, even in the title itself. The rapper has become the poster child for abuse of prescription cough syrup, and on this release he doesn’t sound like he’s giving up the habit anytime soon. Interestingly enough though, one day before the mixtape’s release, Future gave an interview where he stated he isn’t “drugged out” all the time like people think. He said his lyrics revolve around lean, Xanax and molly because that’s what people want to hear. Future also said he wasn’t using drugs for most of the recording of his 2014 “Monster” mixtape. Whether or not this was the truth (Future, Young Thug and numerous other trap rappers are notoriously vague and ambiguous in interviews) or an attempt to clean up his image is hard to tell.
On the closing track of “Purple Reign,” Future raps over an atmospheric, melancholy beat about his (now alleged) love affair with codeine, personified as his girlfriend. The rain and lightning effects from the intro track are heard in the background as Future’s signature half-sung, autotuned crooning fades away.
While the release has a couple tracks that could make their way onto a mix at a party and probably won’t be converting any non-fans, if you’ve wanted more of the dark, autobiographical side of Future, this is definitely the tape you’ve been waiting for. He doesn’t drop any insane bars or change up his flow at all, but I think the Future Hive is just fine with that. “Purple Reign” only confirms the fact that Future is the reigning king of Atlanta.