Content Warning: explicit language, sex, violence
The other day, in a panicked frenzy over what to gift my younger brother for Christmas, I searched “best albums of 2015” online. My family is large, so we use the secret Santa system. I figured an amazing CD could add something to the sorry state of his gift haul.
My search produced a list, compiled by Google, labeled “Music Albums Frequently Mentioned on the Web”, containing the following:
1. To Pimp a Butterfly - Kendrick Lamar
2. Sometimes I Sit and Think, and Sometimes I just Sit - Courtney Barnett
3. Vulnicura - Bjork
4. Carrie & Lowell - Sufjan Stevens
5. If You’re Reading This It’s Too Late - Drake
6. Summertime ’06 - Vince Staples
7. The Epic - Kamasi Washington
8. Wildheart - Miguel
9. Currents - Tame Impala
11. In Colour - Jamie xx
12. DS2 - Future
My brother’s heard Kendrick’s album. The next top three albums—all of which I love—are not to his taste. So I just picked an album at random: DS2 by Future, ranked the 12th most frequently mentioned album on the Internet.
On Christmas day, we all opened our presents; thank you’s were exchanged. It felt wholesome. Until a few days later, when I looked up Future’s album, listened to it all the way through and suffered serious disappointment.
Turns out, I had gifted my brother some of the most misogynistic, albeit critically acclaimed, tracks.
Some of the more memorable lines of DS2 include:
“I just had some b*tches and I made ‘em lip lock”
“Hit that b*tch while I’m choking her out”
“I f*ck on your b*tch and I’ll prove it”
"She gon’ come f*ck me whenever, whenever I want her”
“She a hoe and a slut and a metaphor”
Critics have called Future’s album “the crown jewel of his creative peak”, a “star-studded ‘honest’ album”. Pitchfork’s review states: “His rapping is nimble and dreamy… it’s a strange record… The production is mostly slow and sad… What kind of darkness is this guy experiencing?”
Indeed. The entire album is depressing, with drugs, money, and “pu**y” (i.e. women, human beings) being the three objects at play. Pitchfork doesn’t feel the need to bring up how utterly abusive the album is to women. Because misogyny in rap is a given. Duh.
According to Wiki and more legitimate sources, 22 percent to 37 percent of rap music is misogynistic. Almost all great (male) rap artists have some line out there that’s questionable. But why is this so unquestioned, so acceptable?
I only recently started listening to rap. I had always written it off as not being substantive, until about a year ago when I was introduced to Lupe Fiasco. Lupe is without a doubt the James Joyce of rap—his dense lyrics never end, and it takes several read-throughs on Rap Genius to understand all of his allusions. From Lupe, I moved to Kendrick Lamar, Chance the Rapper, and Childish Gambino. I was astounded to see my old prejudices fall apart in the emotional raw intensity of Kendrick’s “The Blacker the Berry”, Lupe’s “Murals”, and even Kanye West’s “Blood on the Leaves”. But for every talented, complex rap song out there, there are ten, utterly mind-numbing, offensive ones.
Would Future’s lyrics be acceptable in any other genre? Could John Mayer produce a new album with a parallel lyric to “pull out my dick and I pee on her”? Or let’s switch roles. Could misandristic woman succeed in the music industry? Could a woman sing a parallel lyric to “I ain’t got no manners for no sluts/ I’ma put my thumb in her butt” about men? Sure, these comparisons are crude and grate against what we know to be acceptable about music. But that’s the point.
Let’s not kid ourselves. Women would never succeed with such explicit, sadistic lyrics against men. And if they did, critics wouldn’t be calling the album “honest” and “depressing”. They would call it f***ed up.
Truthfully, going through Future’s lyrics to write this article made me feel sick. But a hundred times more disturbing is the fact that this album is ranked as one of the top 20 best albums of the year. As an amateur rap listener, I’ll be in search of anti-Futuresque music, despite what the critics say. Sorry, bro.