Future's done two mixtapes (January's Beast Mode, March's 56 Nights), one album and showstopping features on records by A$AP Rocky, Meek Mill, Travi$ Scott and more. Not to mention he dropped his sophomore studio album less than 18 months ago, and his Monster mixtape just last October.
From Drake: February's no-advance-notice, attack-by-night full-length If You're Reading This It's Too Late. Four album-quality summer singles, two of them ("Back to Back" and "Charged Up") originating as Meek Mill-directed nukes, one of them (the poppy "Hotline Bling") tearing up the radio. Showstopping features on tracks by Big Sean, Fetty Wap, October's Very Own kids Majid Jordan and Roy Wood$, the Game and...Meek Mill.
Drake's been a paid poster boy (if you saw the ad up top, you've never forgotten it); Future just put out DS2 in July, which isn't a Nintendo handheld but a sequel to 2011's Dirty Sprite mixtape. One of the album's great lines is "I bought all the sodas at the gas station." (Not just 'cause he loves soda.) Drake's still running through the 6 with the brand, appearing in a mini-documentary copresented by the Fader over the summer:
What a Time to Be Alive seems, like If You're Reading This It's Too Late, sort of unthinkably obtuse, borderline embarrassing or at least silly to say out loud—and impossible to forget. Unlike If You're Reading This, it's hashtag-ready, a la Drake's #NWTS and Future's #DS2. This time the #FBG and #OVO bosses are giving us #WATTBA. Watt-ba!
What a Time to Be Alive was initially rumored to be called—honest, swear—Put It All in a Plastic Bag. But #WATTBA beats #PIAIAPB by miles, so here we are.
Lil Wayne's 2013 super single helped Future vault to the next level and dropped at a crucial building point for Drake. In retrospect, it's funny that this big public moment in the Future/Drake bromance was built solely around a hook; Weezy's the only man rapping on "Love Me." To listen back now—which still feels fresh and great—is to wonder why it's taken so long to get to What a Time to Be Alive.
In October 2013, right after Nothing Was the Same arrived and with Drake's Future- and Miguel-supported tour set to kick off, Future was quoted in Billboard as saying, "Drake made an album that is full of hits but it doesn’t grab you. They’re not possessive; they don’t make you feel the way I do."
So, mayhem. "After reading the story, Future’s horrified managers argued with the mag that his quotes were off the record and taken out of context," Page Six reported. "We’re told the online story was edited, but [editor/writer Erika] Ramirez didn’t delete her tweets," which contained the same quote. Billboard's response was, “We regret that miscommunication surrounding Future’s recent visit, one that seemed clear to us was on the record, may have caused any trouble for the artist.”
The next word was that Future would be booted from the tour and would file a $1.5 million lawsuit for lost wages. Then he ended up back on the lineup. And then ended up on 2015's Jungle Tour, another headlining run of Drake's.
Before that, in 2011, Drake added a verse to Future's "Tony Montana" remix, then didn't appear in the video. Future didn't love that.
"They just mad cuz I got the Midas touch," Drake rapped on the throwaway-Meek-Mill-diss-turned-turned-summer-defining "Back to Back." And he does; he knows, we know, everyone knows. Drake's a newish king, tapping people and songs here and there and turning 'em straight into gold. (Of course, like the Midas story, there's kind of a sad side to it, because it's Drake.)
Future, same. The day before Future's set at Philly's 2015 Made in America Festival over Labor Day Weekend, Meek Mill's DJ awkwardly played like five-plus minutes of Futch during Meek's homecoming set. Later that night, Beyoncé and her dancers grinded to Future and Drake's "Where Ya At" within minutes of starting her headlining set. On Sunday, Future himself made it clear he's about to either pass or tie Drake as the new Midas/Hov/Yeezus of the rap game.
The diamond-strewn cover art feels like a direct four-years-later response to Watch the Throne's Versailles-ready gold seal. And Future's behind-the-scenes Instagram clip is very reminiscent of Kanye and Jay's portentous WTT mini-movie:
You knew it'd be like this the moment Kanye said he wanted to make a collaboration album with Drake, which cemented the fact that Drake doesn't need to team up with anyone if he doesn't want to. But he is, and it's with Future, and that's no accident. Is there anyone in the rap game who wouldn't have given anything to fly next to the new superhero duo?