Lil Wayne did it in 2006 and 2007, Gucci Mane did it in 2008, and hopefully Future will be doing it in 2013: it’s called a hot streak and it’s often the reason we listen to rap mixtapes. A rapper, fueled by fan support and burning desire to show his talent, releases a series of consistently high quality mixtapes in the lead up to an album. While the quality of that album at the end of the mixtape rainbow can vary, hip-hop fans are endowed with a large catalog of music from an artist they love. If everything goes well for Future, we may get a mixtape or two of the quality of Wayne’s Da Drought 3 and Dedication 2, or of Gucci’s Writing on the Wall and Gucci Sosa. It’s something to look forward to.
In some sense, however, Future’s streak started almost a year ago. His album Pluto, which gained support all throughout 2012 until its re-release as Pluto 3D last fall, was originally released as a free mixtape. It is fantastic: consistently entertaining, yet surprisingly various for a rapper with a very distinctive voice. While FBG: The Movie is technically a crew mixtape, released under the assumption that it was co-created by Future and a loose collection his underlings, it’s very hard not to see it as his long awaited follow up to Pluto.
After all, it certainly sounds that one. While, given its large number of guests, it meanders a little more than its predecessor, it follows Pluto’s sonic formula closely. Spanning from threatening bangers like “Karate Chop” and “Mark McGwire” to starry-eyed sensitive tracks like “Bitches Love Me” and “Appeal”, the tape does each archetype with the economy and hyped-up flair that Future is known for. In some sense, it’s just a set of 24 new Future songs his fans to ferociously consume.’
This is made even clearer by the fact that almost its entire packed lineup of guest appearances do their best to slip alongside Future. To some extent, the tape is a bunch of music made by Future and a number of Future impersonators. Drake probably stands out the most amongst the guests, because his very well-defined style predates and influences Future’s. Even moreso than “Tony Montana”, a track which was only remixed to include Drake after its initial release on True Story, Drake and Future’s two new songs are a very interesting confluence of similar styles: Future’s on the edge of tears delivery contrasts strongly against Drake’s solemn confidence. The combination makes “Fo Real” and “Bitches Love Me” sound like heart-pounding competitions as much as ultra-sensitive sing-rap.
The other rappers, however, do not fare as well, crushed under the surprising uniqueness of Future’s personal brand of rap music. At their best is Young Scooter, whose recent mixtape Street Lottery has made modest waves on the blogs. He raps with Future’s soft and loose delivery, but, possibly because he is conscious of his friend’s influence, actively attempts to step away from certain distinctive Futurisms, making some of his appearances very memorably different, and others disappear into the fray.
The great thing about FBG: The Movie, however, is that even though it may be a failed attempt to present a new set of rappers the world, it is a very successful Future mixtape. Future towers so strongly at its center that if you weren’t paying close attention, you’d think it was just another solo project. Until the dude releases a true follow-up to Pluto this will more than suffice.