One of the most vivid, convincing, and plain, honest accounts of post-relational malaise to be expressed through pop in recent years, “Throw Away,” the fourth track on Future’s new mixtape, Monster, begins with the Atlanta rapper’s thoroughly sloshed-sounding attempt at bolstering himself, following his split from fiancé and baby mama Ciara. “It’s gonna be okay, yeah, it’s gonna be okay,” he insists between anxious-sounding bars about his lavish life. Then the beat switches and the whole thing turns confessional. A wash of sinewy chimes and muffled percussion score Future’s stream-of-consciousness crooning: “If sexing on the late night mean that much to you/My love don’t mean that much to you” gives way to a story about the other night’s ménage a trois, and then the galvanizing sentiment, “Got my dick sucked and I was thinkin’ about you/I was fuckin’ on a slut and I was thinkin’ about you.” The final blow comes when Future slips into falsetto, and almost acknowledges blame: “I told you it was a true love/I ended up with temptation.” He’s hurt, and he knows he fucked up; all the taunts about the other women he’s fucking, the repeated insistence of “Mark my words, I’ma ball without you,” ring false as his thoughts remain hopelessly with his former flame.
Whether that’s actually an honest rendering of Future’s headspace right now doesn’t matter much, because it feels like it, and more importantly because it’s compelling on its own: a characterization of heartbreak that’s unusual for its lack of self-pity while at the same time still engaging emotionally with the loss. It’s at least as compelling as the more formalist rap that dots this tape, to mixed success.
Future’s most enduring talent has always been his facility with vocal melody, and on the DJ Spinz and Southside-produced “Fuck Up Some Commas,” he delivers a sly (and ruthlessly catchy) anthem for rap as aural expression rather than lyrical, shaping and reshaping his flow like the contents of a lava lamp. But the best hook on Monster is found on “Wesley Presley”: “White girl with me like Presley/New Jack City nigga like Wesley” is just the start of an insane vocal exercise that’s essentially—in cooperation with Metro Boomin’s snaking synth lines—a sustained hook, one that manages to keep the wordplay coming, even as each couplet of whole verses ends with the same consonant or one that’s manipulated to sound like it.
The biggest issue with Monster is that some songs (“Mad Luv,” “2Pac,” even the ostensibly heartfelt O.G. Double D. tribute “Hardly”) are too consistent, not just with what’s around them, but with songs on other Future mixtapes, though uniformity does often come with the formalist territory. What complicates an occasionally formulaic approach to songwriting is Future’s under-discussed punk influence, which leads to an endearing amateurism—or at least, like the punk greats, the intimation of it. “I’m treating this shit like a demo,” he beams on closer “Codeine Crazy,” an approach of both reward (the maverick idiosyncrasy of “Wesley Presley,” or parts of “Comma”) and frustration (the total failure of “Radical”).
At least with Future, unlike other artists in the mixtape game, one tends to get a sizeable helping of tracks every bit worthy of the upgrade to album placement, and that holds true with Monster. More importantly, it should be remembered over the rapper’s other recent tapes for translating a low point in his public life, one that could’ve taken the attention off of his music, into work that ultimately deepens the character of his art.