Future was one of the biggest artists of 2015, dropping four projects in just five months. Only a few weeks into 2016 he’s back with his latest mixtape Purple Reign. Any speculation that the acclaimed rapper would grow complacent in his newfound stardom has been squashed flat. Future sounds hungrier than ever on this 13-track project of album-quality music. On tape-standout “Run Up,” he says “Until I see a billion dollars, ain’t complete.” That hardly seems like an empty threat when the artist charges a $200K fee to perform, and maintains a full schedule of tour dates.
“Purple Reign” somehow sounds like more of the same Future, while still introducing us to styles that are far removed from the artist’s wheelhouse. Part of this could be attributed to his continued collaboration with trendsetting Atlanta producers Metro Boomin, Southside and Zaytoven. Metro Boomin shows especially nuanced chemistry with the rapper, giving him the perfect soundscapes for his nontraditional rapping voice. “Purple Reign,” the eponymous closing track serves as a very familiar homage to promethazine, but sonically captures both the “rain” and “reign” implied by the title.
Future is starting to look unstoppable with his prolific mixtape output, and that fact seems to be feeding into his ego. Avid members of the Future Hive – the name for the artist’s fan base – could play endless similarity games with this tape, likening “Inside the Mattress” to 56 Nights’ “March Madness” and so on; however, some of these tracks are very experimental for the artist and his dedicated stable of producers. “All Right” weaves Future’s voice into the mechanical chug of the beat, lending poignancy to lines that would look like filler if they were edited into the mix any differently. Metro Boomin also brings us the most surprising track on the project, “Drippin.” This is as close as the Future Hive will likely get to seeing their hero return to his R&B roots, but the track is still stamped with all the hallmarks of post-Honest Future: minor key tonalities, self-deprecating mythologizing, etc.
In short, “Purple Reign” might just be Future’s most accessible project to date. Many people have gained interest in the artist after the hype he generated in 2015. The quantity of his work might be a bit discouraging to newcomers though. Luckily for them, this tape wraps up everything special about the rapper’s projects last year, and hints at some exciting new directions for this year. 2016 may just be the second year of Future’s purple reign.