FUTURE, O2 Arena – Evening Standard, 24 Oct 2017

Rappers commonly live a life of excess, but it’s usually signified by cars and jewels rather than music. Atlanta’s Future – real name Nayvadius Wilburn – has been profligate with his albums, sending five of them to number one in the US in under two years. That’s a hit rate to rival early Sixties Beatles and Beach Boys, and he even went one better than them with an unheard of feat last February, sending two new albums to the top spot within a week of each other.

However, despite his vast output, here he could only manage an hour-long set padded out with reappearances from support acts including Stefflon Don and Wizkid. He raced through his own songs and a few covers, frequently tiring of them after a verse and a chorus.

While he toured the US on an equal billing with Drake last year, over here he’s more of a cult concern who has so far spent a single week in our top 10. Booking our largest arena was a suitably grand gesture, but he couldn’t sell it out and the top tier sat in darkness.

His performance boasted arena-worthy lasers and fireballs, high quality visuals on the big screen and four male dancers, all in white, who eschewed stiff routines in favour of a more freeform energy. Future’s silver trainers also added to the spectacle, bouncing vigorously during songs such as Fuck Up Some Commas and Stick Talk, which were delivered with far more aggression than on record.

For his songs are pretty weird, generally. On his albums he raps with an Auto-Tune effect that gives a strange preciseness to his slurred lines. Mask Off is a particularly odd hit single, with its slow, spooky flute solo.

Here thunderous bass overpowered any musical subtleties. This statistical success story will have had better nights.

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