Dirty Sprite 2: Future’s descent into the darkness

I stared into her eyes. Darkness was falling around us as the night creatures begun their routine serenade to the moon. She sat patiently with a cold expression. I’m guessing she knew this was coming.

Sandpaper was suffocating my esophagus. My heart was racing and the sweat was sparkling on my palms. I shuffled in my spot on the foot of her bed and she sat upright, arching her back against the wall. Her eyes glowed neon blue.

The night before, I’d fucked her best friend. Lost in a stupor of alcohol and weed, I stupidly decided to share a bed with this other woman. It had started innocently enough, me playfully rubbing my fingers against hers while we drank and socialized amongst friends. We shared lingering glances and in-jokes as the substances flowed through our veins.

I’d been dating my girlfriend for over two years. We had a healthy and loving relationship. We played in a band together and she loved my family as I did hers. We were in a respectful, adult relationship.

Tonight, all of that was lost in the infinite void between my eyes and hers.

A breakup is an ugly thing. I’ve experienced countless messy estrangements from friends and partners that have ended in a row of hurt feelings, snarky comments and bitter actions. I’ve been on the giving and receiving end of hateful language toward people I love. I’ve broken hearts and had my own heart broken, as I am certain most of us have.

All of this relates deeply to the exceptional new record from Atlanta rapper Future. Following his very public split from pop star Ciara in August 2014, the then second- or third-tier rapper has released a spate of increasingly quality mixtapes reflecting on feelings of loneliness and helplessness.

Future’s new record Dirty Sprite 2 can be heard as the culmination of a full year of ideas and public soul searching on his mixtapes, singles and guest spots. It emphasises Future’s half-decade of increasingly quality music, a career of ideas built upon and bettered with this latest release. Yes, it would be fair to call Dirty Sprite 2 his magnum opus; you could even call 2015 Future’s year.

No longer is he a rapper on the periphery. Dirty Sprite 2 has now pushed the trap lord to the upper echelons of the cannon, to that holy place in hip hop usually reserved for only two or three individuals at a time.

Somehow, Future has managed all of this without relying on any massive charting singles. Unlike 2014’s playful and Billboard-friendly Honestan album equally as incredible as DS2, albeit for different reasons – this new Future record is bleak, cold and isolating.

It’s probably one of the most painfully emotional hip hop records of 2015, an astonishing feat given the quality of material released this year thus far. Unlike his emo- and concious-rap contemporaries like Kendrick Lamar, Drake or even Earl Sweatshirt, Future doesn’t fill his lyrics with exaggerations or weighty poetic metaphor. His words are guttural and fierce and honest, each line packed with immense suffering and realness.

Following the rapper over the past calendar year has been like witnessing a very public and increasingly destructive emotional breakdown. He writes about passionless sex with unflinching clarity, the robotic act of drug-induced fucking seemingly unable to satisfy the turmoil of losing a family.

“I slept with her.”

The words escaped my mouth with a breath of fog. It was now nearly 11p.m. and I had successfully avoided the subject of my vacantness up until this point. The lie could eat at my stomach no longer.

She digested the information with the coolness of a monk. She blinked once, shook her head softly and let a crooked smile escape from the corner of her lips. She didn’t fight or swear. She remained aloof and silent and asked respectfully if I could leave the room.

For the next couple of hours, I lay on the couch and tried to sleep, occasionally opening my eyes to watch the room spin around me. I was too fucked to push the manner further. I wanted to die right then. My actions were inexcusable and I hated myself.

From the other room I could hear her whispering. She was a delicate creature already, tortured by a traumatic upbringing, and I worried for her mental health.

I knocked on the door and asked if she was okay, knowing clearly she wasn’t. She remained sitting upright, in almost the exact position I’d left her several hours earlier. Her cheeks were red and her eyes pierced me through the moonlit room. She looked so beautiful in that moment and I despised myself for my thoughts.

She wanted to talk and motioned for me to sit on the bed beside her. As the night shifted through the sky I began to notice the light increasing outside. We didn’t talk at all about what happened but she emphasised her pain. I apologized profusely and found myself delicately stroking her face and body in an effort to comfort her.

She began to reciprocate my physicality and eventually we worked ourselves into a frenzied sex. I tongued her clitoris apologetically. We fucked violently and she dug her nails deep into my back, piercing the skin.

Afterwards, she asked me to leave.

To be completely honest, I’m slightly concerned for Future’s safety. Clearly, the dude is struggling, reliant on drugs and one-night stands to navigate through the perils of his reality. Throughout DS2 he raps openly about his addiction to practically every substance under the sun: codeine, molly, lean, weed, alcohol, Purple Activis, cocaine, Xanax and likely others.

On “Slave Master” he draws parallels between his own life and the overdosed death of rapper A$AP Yams with provocative and unflinching clarity: “Long live A$AP Yams, I’m on that codeine right now”.

It’s a brutal dichotomy and a hard one to justify. On the one hand, it seems Future is aware of his self-destructive tendencies, yet he seems wholly uninterested in changing or solving anything.

The most telling line on the whole record occurs on the same song as the A$AP Yams line above: “I disguise pain when I make it rain”. There is little positivity to balance the emotional turmoil spectacularly suffocating this record, but Future understands what he is doing and why.

There is something commendable about that kind of honesty. He is exposing himself fully, filth and all, and there is nothing anybody can do to stop him.

On “Groupies” he sings: “now I’m back fuckin’ my groupies” with unapologetic charisma and gusto. It’s an angry song that is almost uncomfortably fierce given the subject matter. But Future is simply revealing his failings and telling us that this is exactly who he is: a fucked dude doing fucked things. Throughout the record he is telling us, ‘this is me, either get over it or fuck off’.

Following the split I sunk into a deep depression. Fuelled by rage I turned to alcohol and drugs to comfort the turmoil that had eaten away huge chunks of my self-confidence and self-worth. I felt judged by my friends – rightly so – and I withdrew to fight my demons alone.

I took to self-harm and would lay awake at night staring at the ceiling, allowing a vicious cycle of self-loathing to consume me whole. I frequented bars alone, binging into an intoxicated swirl of pseudo-confidence to enable myself to fuck total strangers.

I wrote songs for myself, apologizing for my actions. I couldn’t change what I had done and I couldn’t take back the pain I had caused to those around me. I couldn’t do anything except somehow attempt to turn this experience into something positive, an event I could learn and grow from.

The drug use furthered my creativity and in the mix of weed and red wine forced me to write writing manically, sometimes several songs a day. Years later, I’d heard a song she’d written and recorded about me. She called me a cunt.

To call Dirty Sprite 2 the number one hip hop album of the year would be a little bit of a stretch, but it sure isn’t far off. The producers backing Future spill their purple slosh all over the record, resulting in an incredibly modern sound littered with the expected trap tropes. It’s a fuller and richer sound than most of Future’s previous work and is especially heady. The sorrowful escapism of Future’s lyrics materialises in the record’s down tempo and hallucinogenic aesthetic.

Much of the album’s production credit is owed to regular Future collaborators Sonny Digital and Metro Boomin. These guys have crafted a sound synonymous with the syrupy trap of Atlanta and have likewise earned their place amidst the upper echelons the hip hop business.

The album is so crisp and spectacular sounding that it lives up to the preemptive hype without ever overreaching (unlike To Pimp a Butterfly). It makes for a less exacting record than Kendrick’s aforementioned masterpiece but Dirty Sprite 2 is nevertheless a perfectly succinct and timely record that feels very much a part of 2015, the year of our Lord, the year of continually unbelievably top-quality pop music.

With Future so openly exposing his vulnerabilities for his fans and audience he has managed to craft a highlight pop-rap release, an album totally bettered by the failings of its maker.

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