MUSIC

Is Future Problematic? A Look at One of Rap's Most Successful Misogynists

As the rapper’s latest baby mama drama unfolds, it’s time to hold Future accountable

Let's face it: It might be time to cancel Future.

Nayvadius Wilburn, otherwise known as the Atlanta trap icon Future, has historically had trouble taking personal responsibility for his actions.

For one, while he's always been frank about his battles with addiction, he's claimed to be (somehow) unaware of his music's influence on young kids.

Yet up-and-coming rapper Juice WRLD, who recorded a collaborative project with Future last year, admitted that the Atlanta rapper inspired him to start sipping cough syrup when he was in middle school. "When he told me that, I was like, 'Oh sh*t. What the f*ck have I done?" Future recently told Rolling Stone. "I didn't think I'd care about that stuff. Four years ago, I probably wouldn't have cared if he told me." Juice WRLD claimed Future "kind of apologized."

In a separate interview with Genius, Future admitted that he had actually stopped drinking cough syrup but remained mute on his sobriety out of fear that his fans would stop "loving him" if they knew he was sober. He mentioned that certain people in his inner circle pressured him to continue to use drugs and party. "The people around you are chasing the high so they want you to continue to chase that same high," he said.

Both the interviews came prior to the January release of his latest studio album, Future Hndrxx Presents: The WIZRD, and they seemed to represent a dramatic shift in tone for the rapper. However, listening to the album, that growth and sense of responsibility were suddenly absent. "I'm too rich to be sober," he sings on "Overdose," "got the whole world taking Xan's"; he turns a hint of regret into a braggadocio statement. He describes on "Unicorn Purp" how he's "on that purp like a unicorn."

But both fans and critics were rather forgiving of these discrepancies, suggesting that this album was the end of the old Future. "I think this is the ending of Future that we once knew," said Rory on The Joe Budden Podcast. "It did feel that way. I think the content is changing now."

But Budden wasn't as forgiving, reminding listeners of his other discrepancies.

After acknowledging the rapper's hypocritical attitude toward drug use, Budden went on to address other hypocrisies that Future's faced and failed to address. In an interview with Beats 1, Future claimed that his ex-wife, Ciara, introduced their kid to her new husband, Russel Wilson, before "she allowed Wilson and Future to meet." "He do exactly what she tell him to do," Future said, mentioning that Wilson should be a "man" and forbid Ciara from even mentioning his name in public. "If that was me, she couldn't even bring his name up. She know that. She couldn't even bring her exes' names up...don't give that sh*t no energy."

"Why does he keep telling us how everybody else should be behaving?" Budden said of the interview. "And all of it is to benefit him," his co-host Rory added. Budden went on to say that he doesn't respect Future as a man: "In real life, we ain't see no maturation from Future!" When asked for a response, Future said candidly, "I don't f*ck with Joe Budden." He added, "He got a badass bitch though."

The latter comment falls in line with how the rapper has historically objectified women.

He has historically denied culpability when it comes to mistreating his sexual partners. Future and Ciara have been at each other's throats since 2015 in what has been a very public post-breakup feud. The soon-to-be newlyweds called it quits after Ciara discovered that the rapper had been sleeping with his wardrobe consultant. Future denied the allegations, claiming he was the one to call it quits and that he just stuck it out because he felt embarrassed for her.

Since then, the two have had a tumultuous back and forth. Future has bad-mouthed his ex on social media multiple times, allegedly costing Ciara an endorsement deal in the process. Future's public airing out of his frustrations has also inspired fans to be equally vicious, continuously coming to the rapper's defense to attack Ciara and her new husband.

While Ciara and Future share custody of their kid together, the rapper has five additional baby mamas, with a sixth stepping forward this week. Eliza Reign, the latest to have a child by the rapper, alleged that she initially received death threats after deciding to keep the baby; and since the little girl's birth, she's been unable to get in contact with Future.

He's body-shamed and degraded his female fans.

Future's toxic behavior has hardly tainted his legacy as an artist, but there have been enough instances to warrant severe criticism. Back in March, rumors started to fly that Future wouldn't allow "fattie" women to enter a club he was performing at in Miami. He denied the allegations, saying, "I love all women." He additionally came under scrutiny in 2017 when he said on Twitter that his "kids gotta make a sacrifice" for having a superstar dad. The statement came a year after one of his baby mamas sued him for "emotional neglect" of their son, citing that the child has "emotional and behavioral issues" as a result of Future's bad parenting.

A few months after the release of WIZRD, Future announced the release of a surprise EP called SAVE ME. The EP, which critics have derided as his most thematically stifling, attempted to paint a more sympathetic narrative of the artist. "I only call you when I'm faded / Your arms around me, come and save me," he sings on "Xanax Damage," referring to his continued Xanax abuse. "I've been possessed, they wanna take my soul," he sings on "Love Thy Enemies." "Save my flesh, I'm in need of your love."

Future clearly sees himself as a creative martyr, as someone who's sacrificed his health and happiness in order to create great art and keep his fans. But even in his darkest and most vulnerable moments, obnoxious lyrics like, "I'm gettin' cocky, treat a good girl like she ran down / Catch an attitude I'ma go and f*ck your friend now," squash any empathy one could have for the 35-year-old. While he attempts to paint himself as a lost soul in need of guidance, the #MeToo movement has proven that misogynistic men will do anything to frame themselves as victims in order to ultimately direct attention away from those who have suffered as a result of their ignorance.

Future hasn't matured; he's just changed his narrative. In January, when asked for his opinion on the downfall of R. Kelly, Future said: "When you give things too much attention, they blow up...stop talking about it, it'll go away." That bit of advice seems to be Future's calling card, and while ignorance is clearly bliss in the Hip-Hop community, at what point are we going to start holding our favorite artists to a higher standard?

Satire

To Donald Trump: 5 Ways You're Actually a Flawless Being Doing a Beautiful, Unbelievable Job Right Now

You could resign if you want to, but then who will keep America so GD great?

With Donald Trump making a visit to Bangor, Maine today, the editorial board of the Portland Press Herald issued an op-ed calling for President Trump to resign.

The harshly critical piece entitled "To President Trump: You Should Resign Now" was framed as an open letter to the president and got straight to the point with this opening plea, "We're sorry that you decided to come to Maine, but since you are here, could you do us a favor? Resign."

In recent days even George W. Bush has been critical of President Trump's response to protests, so this new piece quickly became a trending topic on Twitter. Obviously this is another baseless attack from the lying news media—AKA lügenpresse. Considering how delicate our president's ego is—he's our special little guy—we can only hope that Donald Trump didn't see the letter; but just in case he did, it's worth writing another one to lift his spirits. So here's our best attempt—with lots of pictures and flattery to keep him reading:

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MUSIC

"Hot Girl Summer" vs. "Summertime Sadness": Lies the Internet Told Me

Megan Thee Stallion told us it's hot girl summer, but what happens when you're not hot?

If you haven't heard, we're in the midst of Hot Girl Summer.

The term was coined by rapper Megan Thee Stallion, who created an alter ego named "Hot Girl Meg" to accompany the release of her debut mixtape, Fever. Following its release on May 17, the term "hot girl" quickly took off online, becoming a symbol of a metamorphosis into an upgraded, more confident version of oneself.

Stallion later elaborated on the phrase's connotations, clarifying that it was meant to be gender-neutral. "So it's just basically about women and men being unapologetically them, just having a good-ass time, hyping up your friends, doing you, not giving a damn about what nobody gotta say about it," she said. "You definitely have to be a person that could be like the life of the party, and … you know, just a bad bitch."

In typical Internet fashion, the term's message of carefree hyper-sexual-liberation didn't hold up for long against the online world's nihilistic bend. Quickly, Hot Girl Summer memes—those quiet, wry expressions of our online collective consciousness—began cropping up. Though many of them featured photos of people celebrating their own radiant auras, more lamented the failure of Hot Girl Summer, revealing the disappointment lingering just beneath the the term's glossy surface. Refracted through memes, the phrase revealed its own fragility: "me tweeting 'hot girl summer' and then sitting in my room texting 'haha hey what r u doin'" read one. Another, more sobering message: "who was I kidding? I was never meant to have a hot girl summer lmaooo likeee I'm too loving." Another: "how am I supposed to have a hot girl summer with $5?"


Apparently, "hot girl summer" can be shattered by a sad album, or by falling in love.

Sure enough, "hot girl summer" has become a polarizing term that feels liberating for some but promises much to others while actually exacerbating their own self-consciousness and uncertainty.



Predictably, several weeks after Megan Thee Stallion set Hot Girl Summer into motion, Lana Del Rey's 2012 hit "Summertime Sadness" returned to the charts.

"Summertime Sadness" offers a marked alternative to the "hot girl" way of life. While "hot girl summer" connotes unconditional self-love and radical abandon, "summertime sadness" permits languorous hours lying beneath one's fan, mourning anything: the state of the world, one's love life, or lack of funds. "Hot girl summer" is exuberant, brash, performative. "Summertime Sadness" is depressed, tongue-in-cheek, firmly planted in the shade. If "hot girl summer" embodies the untouchable glam of stars of the early aughts, like Britney and Beyoncé, "summertime sadness" is the domain of Lana Del Rey, Lorde, Halsey, and their decidedly anti-pop ethos.

Together, these two divergent summertime pathways highlight a contrast that is very specific to the Internet. The online sphere thrives on polarization, and often a single scroll through recent posts reveals both performative ecstasy and equally performative, exaggerated depressive sentiments. The Internet has always thrived on these kinds of contrasts, as by nature it is well-suited to black-and-white thinking. People are either "cancelled" or deified. There is no such thing as "neutral" or "middle-of-the-road." One is either perpetually bikini-clad and living out a Hot Girl Summer or fully surrendering to the rip tide of summertime sadness. There is no in between.

In reality, however, sharp binaries rarely hold up when they exit the screen and join the equally chaotic but much less starkly divided corporeal world. Both Hot Girl Summer and "summertime sadness" are aesthetically beautiful in the conceptual realm; both begin to glitch when used as blueprints for how to live.

After all, no human is capable of existing in a perpetual state of Hot Girl Summer—not even the bikini models, LA hustlers, and influencers whose online profiles embody the term, but who have quietly and consistently spoken out about the falsity, emptiness, and depression that tends to accompany their professions.

Similarly, not even the Internet's self-proclaimed sad girls exist in a perpetual, stagnant state of summertime sadness. When that sadness does arise, it is rarely of the languorous, vintage-styled sort that Del Rey's early career promoted. In this, "summertime sadness" is equally as hollow and ephemeral as Hot Girl Summer.

Lana Del Rey - Summertime Sadness (Official Music Video) www.youtube.com

Viewed this way, the two terms are far more similar than they initially seem. They are both designed to be surreal and cartoonishly dramatic. They both advocate for not really caring about anything, yet somehow simultaneously promote an all-consuming fixation on oneself.

In this, they both reflect social media as a whole. For all of the ways it promises to connect us, social media has become an echo chamber through which we perform and obsess over fixed, simplified, and ultimately nonexistent versions of ourselves."Hot girl summer" is about being single, feeling fantastic, and not giving a f*ck all at the same time; it connotes billboards, consumption, sugar, perma-smiles. "Summertime sadness" is about languishing inside one's own brain, clinging to a lost love, passively accepting a jaded worldview.

Still, both "hot girl summer" and "summertime sadness" have a time and a place, and they each make for great Instagram captions—but neither should suffice as a permanent way to spend one's summer months. Whereas the Internet thrives on isolated circuits of people with similar views, all-encompassing labels, and quick fixes, real life is far more defined by monotonous repetition, complex relationships, and murky questions that lack definitive answers.

In this corporeal reality, no one is a brand. No influencer is solely comprised of makeup and white teeth; most fitness models have cheat days; most online spiritual coaches don't constantly emanate love and incense; and most managers of depression meme accounts do not spend all of their time lying on piles of rotting pizza and dirty clothes (hopefully).

But it's only July; many summer nights still stretch out before us. When we find ourselves at the impasse between Hot Girl Summer and summertime sadness, perhaps we don't have to choose either path. Maybe we can make peace with the fact that we all have a little of both within us.