When: Wed., March 2, 8 p.m. 2016
WEDNESDAY, MARCH 2
Rap rarely makes room for new stars. Even when it does, the deal is a consignment contract, the threat of revocation looming between albums. Future's unexpected, recent rise following the failure of 2014's Honest seemed a disruption of the natural hip-hop order, a second chance in a business that offers few first ones.
But Atlanta's most popular contemporary rapper filled a void in the genre at a time when tastemakers took a narrow view of the hip-hop landscape. Still, today's success story can quickly become tomorrow's tabloid fodder. (Just ask Kanye.) While Future's releases last year felt like major rap events, his 2016 projects haven't. EVOL debuted atop the Billboard 200, but neither that nor its mixtape predecessor, Purple Reign, produced the conversations of DS2 or 56 Nights. Our collective reaction to these newer projects is a consumerist reflex, a vestigial twitch in the direction of the "Buy" button. Future is repeating himself, and so are we.
His producer, Metro Boomin, continues to compose bass-bin wonders, designed to shake Atlanta and the world. That homogeneity, though, may doom him to the fate that befell the once mighty DJ Mustard. A weary hedonist, Future relies on Metro, which leaves him slinking into a rut, too. He's trapped in the trap house, repetitively rapping about xans and lean. Quality control no longer applies to Future, making him increasingly more prone to meme-ification and clowning. (Again, see Kanye.)
Even as his new songs prompt more hashtag humor than rap radio appeal, Future commands attention. His current tour is a very hot ticket, with dates selling out in short order. He's tapped into the zeitgeist and made these concerts places to be. Can he sustain it without progressing? Changing his sound seems risky, but, at some point, he must—for the sake of his artistry and his paper. Ty Dolla $ign and Lil Donald open. —Gary Suarez
THE RITZ, RALEIGH 8 p.m., $47.50, www.ritzraleigh.com