Review: Future, ‘High Off Life’

The trap titan is once again in his untouchable element, endorsing the vices of the world without ever taking his foot off the gas.

Of all the self-proclaimed kings of the game, Future is the one that genuinely appears on top of the world. As the most influential artist of the trap genre he has survived with the times and birthed multiple children both literally and metaphorically. The influence and impact never fails to falter, as with every seasonal release the magnitude of Future’s aura grows on a public level (his latest accidental footprint is on internet memes). Amidst a worldwide pandemic and a constant flow of music, it is now Future’s turn to grab attention with his eighth solo studio album.

High Off Life is Future’s best full-length trap offering since 2017’s self-titled FUTURE. Except this time round the inflated volume is traded for a seasonal tempo without sacrifice the consistency. In fact, High Off Life barely even provides skippable moments; a testament to its 21-track consistency.

Future’s previous projects have all felt like his own Catch Me if You Can – a trap convict that’s got away with all the crimes and is now living the lavish life with no regrets. High Off Life acts as the sequel, still ambitious but content. Album opener “Trapped in the Sun” is a reflection on the come-up, using cars as mementos to create that duality (“That yellow Lambo’ outside for when I trapped in the sun / That green Ferrari sittin’ outside when I couldn’t make bond”). Intros are known for setting the tone, and the tone set here is Future’s still hungry.

Future carries out the impossible in making an album justify its 21-track length. It’s got the hit singles as well as the memorable album cuts. Skittering cuts like “HiTek Tek” and “Touch the Sky” ooze personality through their hooks and Future’s vocalisations, moments where the album really gains its FUTURE-level energy. “Hard to Choose One” provides a brilliant contrast between the urgency in the high-pitched piano keys and Future’s lackadaisical delivery. These songs got the memorable one-liners, the addictive beats and the catchy hooks to seal the deal.

What’s key about the streamlined High Off Life is the improvements by the production team. Producers such as ATL Jacob, DY and Wheezy have all levelled up since Future’s 2019 effort The Wizrd. Here the beats may not be more distinct, but they are certainly more consistent and vacate space for Future to perform some inflexions we’ve never heard (“Touch the Sky”).

While it may not be evident on its surface, High Off Life is one of Future’s most engaging albums when it comes to subject matter. Future focuses on his character on songs like “Posted with Demons”, “Up the River”, “Too Comfortable” and “Accepting My Flaws”. These songs monopolise around the 2-minute trap battles, and the album would be bland without them. “Accepting My Flaws” is the album’s true closer, offering Future to rap arguably one of the best verses of his career over the empowering beat. For anyone that believes Future’s music’s got no substance, “Accepting My Flaws” fashionably thwarts the naysayers.

Let it be known, this is not the mumble rap that Future famously introduced. His delivery is intelligible, his flows are clear and shockingly above all, his bars definitely convey some solid lyricism (“He wanna be a superstar, I bought him a magazine”, he says on “Trapped in the Sun”).

Barely any guest appearances are phoned in. Travis Scott, Lil Uzi Vert, NBA YoungBoy, Young Thug and Lil Durk all collaborate with Future to create chemistry on their respective songs. A notable asset of these collabs are the way the pairs are always sharing the hook, a touch that may go over listeners heads but should definitely be appreciated. This is ultimately what makes the hooks of High Off Life so engaging.

The most underwhelming moments of the album arrive with the NBA YoungBoy assisted “Trillionaire”, who has chemistry with Future but has a grating voice, nor does the song boast a great melody. “Tycoon”, essentially one of the bonus tracks, was released as a single but certainly doesn’t carry the single factor.

Aside from a couple loose ends, Future does not miss a beat. His charisma and machismo are on full show, balanced with self-examining cuts that come served with a dash of lyricism. High Off Life is an extended intoxication that shows life may not be good for everyone, but it certainly is for Future.

Rating: 8.5 / 10

Best tracks: “Accepting My Flaws”, “Pray for a Key”, “100 Shooters”, “Too Comfortable”, “Touch the Sky”, “Life Is Good”