Unless you're a permanent resident of Cole World or a singularly devoted acolyte of the Church of Kendrick Lamar, it's hard to argue the fact that Drake is the biggest rapper in the universe, and has been for a while. His sales are unbeatable, the internet thirsts for him the hardest, his features are more sought-after—and generally better—than anyone's. If Aubrey had been on Made in America's 2015 bill, his headlining set would've incited as much mayhem as Beyoncé's—or more.
On Saturday, Meek Mill spent a surprising chunk of his homecoming set letting his DJ drop other people's jams while ambling around the stage, taking videos of the crowd. The biggest spotlighted artist was the Atlanta alien we call Future, a fact that actually ended up rubbing Meek the wrong way. Later, within 15 minutes of Beyoncé's kickoff, Future's "Fuck Up Some Commas" beat got sprinkled into "Diva," followed by a dance party set to Futch's Drizzy-featuring "Where Ya At."
By then it was clear: Future is on everyone's mind (and stereo) right now, and his 5:15 PM set at the Liberty Stage—the festival's second-biggest—on Sunday was going to be historic, and devastatingly overcrowded.
Well before the show started, thousands were sandwiched in an awkward pocket of the Made in America grounds, streaming in equal parts away from and into the fray. But when DJ Esco arrived, everything was alright. And when Future bopped out in his Future hat and his Future shades, everything was perfect. And stayed that way for the next 45 minutes, while the man spat nonstop, unfazed by the steady beatdown the sun was doling out.
Everyone who wasn't feverishly trying to escape used their two free inches of space to work their best rap hands and scream along with every word, from the early cuts to the huge buffet of grimy bangers from Dirty Sprite 2, the 31-year-old's No. 1 album released in mid-July. DS2 is dark, deviant and insular, but when you're about to take the top spot, your shit's party music, no matter what it sounded like on headphones.
The way the Future Hive embraced their king was contagious. It wasn't just the singing, the dancing or the jumping—it was the intangible, incredible amount of love. Future isn't just a rapper whose specific cadences and unique way with Auto-Tune are reshaping an entire musical landscape; Future is, or is so close to being, the rapper, period.
Any good business, no matter how established, needs an aggressive expansion plans, and Future knows. In one of his rare, brief moments of between-song banter, he announced a new project will drop this year, making it his sixth release (between albums and mixtapes) in less than two years, since Honest hit in April 2014. Whether it'll be Beast Mode 2 with ATL producer Zaytoven, the Mike WiLL Made-It team-up Ape Shit or something else entirely remains to be seen. What's guaranteed is that it'll be another jewel for Future's crown.