At my Harlem barbershop, I often find myself epically failing at defending Future’s mic skills. True, he’s not nearly as lyrically dexterous as Kendrick Lamar or J.Cole. But to me, hip-hop isn’t limited to rhyme slingers with clever metaphors, mind-boggling similes, or super intelligent conversations. Sometimes it’s just relaxing to listen to bravado-filled raps, dipped in bars that motivate you to stack plenty of moola, get fresh and chill with alluring women. And who’s better at providing this feeling than Future? Furthermore, if you pay close attention to Super Hendrix’s lyrics, you know he often touches on profound topics like abandonment and trust issues.

Despite the ping-pong dialogue about Hendrix’s microphone competence, one thing isn’t up for debate: for nearly two years now, Future has been the hottest, hardest working street rapper.  

With little warning—and only two-and-a-half weeks removed from the release of his Purple Reign mixtape—Nayvadius Wilburn continues to ride his wavy surf board of uncontained, beast-mode energetic tunes that get the trap-spots jumping worldwide. Last Friday, Future rolled out his fifth studio album, Evol (which is pronounced “evil” but is, of course, love spelled backwards). Here, he steps away from his oft repeated trust issues and deeply rooted pain raps to step into his star-studded role as one of hip-hop’s hottest cats, accepting some of the perks that come with rap superstardom—more women, goons and a hefty cash flow.

On “Lil Haiti Baby,” over a snapping, championship-themed backdrop courtesy of Moe Goonie and TeeLow da Producer, Hendrix provides motivation for thugs and lover-boys alike. With his signature Auto-Tuned rap/singing, the dreaded rapper pieces together a mellifluous hook that details the intense focus one needs to cuff diamonds and that R&B chick sitting pretty in the cut. 

On the provocative, Southside-produced “In Her Mouth,” Future keeps the braggadocio rolling while he scoops a female district attorney, bags an R&B chick and pulls up in his ATL housing projects in a Bugatti. This same fly, dope-boy-vibrant vibe remains equally intact on “Maybach,” “Photo Copied” and “Seven Rings.”  

But it’s over the hypnotic synths of the DJ Spinz-produced “Lie to Me” where the usually guarded Future exposes his softer side. Well, sort of. Here, the Xany popping, lean gulping MC makes himself vulnerable to his loved ones as he croons: “I know Tiarra, Brittany and Keisha, they gon’ to lie for me.” Then he goes on to tell his family how much love he has for them. You may be thinking that it’s a normal to profess love and show vulnerability to family members. But for someone like Future, who’s expressed acute pain and trust issues, vulnerability is a huge step. Taking things even further, on “Fly Sh*t Only,” Future raps that maybe one day he’ll even stop using drugs.

Future’s music probably will never be as complex or profound as Kendrick Lamar’s or J.Cole’s. For the most part, #FutureHive fans are from the streets, although his Auto-Tuned raps can be heard blasting from the dorm rooms of many universities. Unfortunately, not every street is interested in rap that’s meant to give different perspectives on life and the Black experience. It’s a hard truth to swallow, but a truth it is. And for those who aren’t interested in anything other than the flyer things of life, Future severs as motivation music. For rap lovers who need a break from heady hip-hop, Future’s addictive, lively tracks provide a way for us to lighten up and live a little.