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?

TV

The Best Show That’s Not on TV: A Beginner’s Guide to "Red Table Talk"

Red Table Talk should be discussed in groups like a book club.

The intergenerational show features Willow Smith, Jada Pinkett Smith, and Adrienne Banfield Morris.

Red Table Talk

Jada Pinkett Smith began the Facebook Watch show Red Table Talk with the intention of it being a hobby.

Over a year and thirty-seven episodes later, it's become a must-watch program, gaining millions of views per episode. On the show, Smith usually congregates with her daughter, Willow, and mother, Adrienne Banfield Morris, to discuss pressing issues. The intergenerational show centers on the three black women as daughters, mothers, and grandmothers who discuss difficult subjects. They dig into societal taboos and illuminate deeply ingrained problems in our families, in our country, and within ourselves. Every episode explores new questions, revelations, and personal insecurities.

On Facebook, the comments section is flooded with debate and gratitude. In a period when our country is more divided than ever, so many Americans are longing to come together and for a platform to discuss what's gone unheard. Whether the three women are discussing white privilege, child brides, or sexuality—the red table feels like a safe space for understanding, with the underlying certainty that we're all equally human.

Yet, we're still different. Red Table Talk sends out the flashing message that different perspectives and active listening can transform a generation—if we're open to it. For 20 minutes per episode, what happens at dinner tables across the country is happening on your screen, allowing viewers to reflect on serious conversations based around respect.

Red Table Talk should be one of the most watched educational programs, discussed in groups like a book club, where introspection, deliberation, and debate are possible.

With that in mind, during every discussion in your personal life, you should reflect on the following questions and maybe pose them to others, thoughtfully and respectfully.

  1. How can I productively contribute to this conversation? Should I participate or sit back and listen?
  2. Do I have privilege here? If yes, how do I use it to benefit others and undo the oppressive systems in effect?
  3. What are my biases?
  4. What is my intention in contributing?
  5. Do I dominate conversations? If yes, how can I work to become a better listener?
  6. Am I being defensive or attempting to inform in a positive fashion?
While you watch the more recent episodes of Red Table Talk, here's a guided shortcut to the major topics covered by the powerful women.

Race

Should White People Adopt Black Children?

Unpacking White Privilege and Prejudice

The Racial Divide: Women of Color and White Women

Questions discussed include:

Should white people adopt any child of color?

What are the responsibilities of a person raising a child of a different race?

Do you believe that white people pass down their own biases and internalized racism to their children and in their everyday lives?

How can people teach children to be inclusive?

Can people unteach and undo exclusionary mentalities in adults?

Can all women come together or will race continue to divide us based on our experiences and prejudice?

True or False: Race is a construct. We are the human race.

How can people include and make space for other POC, when race has become such a black and white issue?

Toxic Organizations and Mentalities

Children Forced into Marriage— A National Disgrace

Leah Remini: Setting the Record Straight

Molested As a Young Boy: An NBA Star Breaks His Silence

Questions discussed include:

Why do people raise their daughters with different standards than their sons?

Why do people feel shame when they themselves are the victims?

How can we advocate for the destigmatization of sexual abuse in our society and in our laws?

Becoming a mother can become a source of strength, but also a burden— how can we find support in our everyday lives?

At your lowest, how do you motivate yourself?

True or False: Only you can get yourself out of a bad situation,

Everyone should go to therapy— yes or no?

Should we trust the laws our government enforces, when so often they work against many members of our society?

Does religion cause more harm than good?

Should people indoctrinate their children into a faith at a young age?

Romantic Relationships

Unconventional Relationships: Can Multiple Relationships Work?

Common: Breaking Destructive Cycles

Infidelity: Can Your Relationship Last?

Questions discussed include:

Would you consider participating in a polyamorous relationship? If not, why? If yes, why?

Can polyamorous relationships last and be balanced?

Why do many consider the nuclear family to be the ideal norm in our society?

How do you learn to trust other people?

Being closed off can be a way to protect yourself: Why do people shame others for having walls?

Meanwhile, vulnerability is treated as a strength nowadays: How can we create healthy, emotional boundaries in our everyday lives?

True or false: You can only love someone if you love yourself.

Why do people consider cheating to be the end-all, be-all worst betrayal in a romantic relationship?

True or false: Once a cheater always a cheater.

How can you rebuild trust after cheating?

Are we, as humans, meant to be monogamous?