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Future – ‘I NEVER LIKED YOU’ review: Atlanta’s Trap Overlord Proves he’s Still on Top

The pioneer – along with an all-star cast including Drake and Ye – puts his melodies and robotic croon to good use on his impressive ninth studio album.

He’s steamrollered out rap classics in his 12-year tenure as one of trap’s founding fathers and, on his ninth record, Atlantan don Future enlists help from some friends (like the rap heavyweights Drake and Ye) to make one of his best albums yet, proving he’s still one of the most important rappers around.

Admittedly things don’t start off great: on the first quarter of this 16-track record, the 38-year-old – generally a flowing god – sounds monotonous, trotting out nonsensical (if sometimes entertaining) lines. For the three-way tag team match of ‘FOR A NUT’, with YSL Records’ lead duo Gunna and Young Thug, he manages: “I just put some diamonds in her butt”. What?

But then a great run of tracks appears in the middle of the album, proving that Future is more mature than he’s given credit for. ‘WAIT FOR U’, the first of two Drake and Future collaborations on the record and featuring Nigerian breakthrough star Tems, is a schmoozy love song. Stepping away from his usual, self-proclaimed “street bangers”, Future explores R&B here, with Drake summing up the track’s sometimes toxic concept of romance: “I got a career that takes my time away from women / I cannot convince you that I love you for a living”. 

Trap overlord Future certainly shines the best atop moodier, more traditional trap sounds on this album; by the end you’ll have forgiven the disappointing opening volley. Looking for a confidence boost from the bravado king? ‘PUFFIN ON ZOOTIEZ’, ‘GOLD STACKS’, and ‘MASSAGING ME’ will provide. The first of these songs features a truly ominous instrumental, while the off-beat ‘GOLD STACKS’ (“Step on a n***a in some all white ones, yeah”) is perhaps the most all-out moment on the whole of ‘I NEVER LIKED YOU’. Ready for everywhere – from Magic City to the gym – this totally uncompromising tune perfectly demonstrates why we still love Future today.

After more than a decade of working alongside the Atlanta’s rap pool – which continues to grow in talent and notoriety – Future has proved time and again that he’s special. Throughout those years, it’s been a pleasure to see him improve his craft. At times, in the past, he has relied on his autotune to compensate for lacklustre lyricism, but Future is a megamind whose pioneering spirit is the very reason trap feels alive today. With ‘I NEVER LIKED YOU’, you’ll happily applaud him for that.

Details

Release date: April 29th

Record label: Epic/Freebandz