Future is definitely off to a great start in 2017.
His eponymous project earned the rapper his fourth consecutive No. 1 album (following DS2, What A Time to Be Alive, and Evol), debuting atop the Billboard 200 chart with 140,000 album equivalent units. Meanwhile, the freshly released HNDRXX will likely debut at number one as well, enabling Future to the join the ranks of Tupac and DMX for having two No. 1 albums in the same calendar year.
With rumors of him dropping a new album this Friday after already releasing Future and HNDRXX within a week from each other, Future is definitely channeling mixtape culture in the mainstream rap game. Nonetheless, for an artist as established as Future, the back-to-back releases make you wonder: is this a clever strategy or just another marketing ploy?
In the current, instant gratification-filled streaming era, listener’s attention spans are shorter than ever. The immediacy from music platforms has given rise to consumers constantly moving from one album to the next, making the statement “An artist is only as good as their last hit” even more accurate. In terms of celebrity, Future is undeniably bigger than he has ever been; however, it is arguable that the novelty factor is beginning to wear off. So, could Future be capitalizing on this pitfall?
Critical reception has been generally favorable for Future (with reviews still rolling in for HNDRXX) but still far from the one-two-three-four punch from his mixtapes Monster, Beast Mode, and 56 Nights to his third studio album DS2. Although his self-titled album technically pushed more units than his previous studio effort Evol, its success was heavily influenced by the rise of streaming considering only 60,000 of those were actual album sales.
On the other hand, fans were pleasantly surprised with being spoiled with so much new music. Both albums performed exceptionally well on streaming (the new industry norm), occupying the top two spots on Apple Music and garnering tens of millions of streams on Spotify. With the contrast of his self-titled album being the quintessential trap-filled hedonistic Future record and HNDRXX being marketed as the more soulful, introspective, and mainstream-appealing album with high-profile collaborations from Rihanna and The Weeknd, listeners were delighted to see the rapper’s multiple facets. Whether or not the rumors are true about the soon-coming third album in a two week span, the hype and anticipation is certainly there.
Gimmick? Sure. Genius? Too soon to tell. A little bit of both? Maybe.