When I first got the blues, they brought me over on a ship,
Men was standin’ over me, and a lot more with a whip.
And ev’rybody wanna know why I sing the blues.

— B. B. King

(Image of Robert Johnson courtesy of NPR)
(Image of Nayvadius Wilburn courtesy of GQ)

“Got the game from them old niggas

You gotta know where I’m from to get to know a nigga”

he’s paying homage to more than just his uncles and grandfather, he’s honoring a legacy of metastasizing black suffering. Future and Bob Johnson both found a way to package the Blues for popular consumption. That is why the notes Johnson on “Kind Hearted Woman” hits singing,

“Ain’t but one thing makes Mr. Johnson drink

Its worried ‘bout how you treat me baby

I begin to think

Oh my babe, my life don’t feel the same”

sound so similar to archetypal Future lines like

“Tears in my eyes, I can’t forget where I came from
I lost a lover, it’s alright
It can’t be worse, than when I lost my main homie to the streets
You should’ve never give up on me without hearin’ my side of the story”

But if Future sings the Blues like Ol’ Bob Johnson, then where did he get his sound? While watching the male Beyoncé’s attempt at a documentary-concert film, I was stunned by the amount of time Future spent in the studio. DJ Khaled remarked, “This man [Future] work every day. This man don’t sleep. He records everywhere he goes. He could be doing a show, he in the studio… He could be on a private jet, three shows a day, he still in that studio.” However, what is noticeably absent is Future spending down time with his children, or his relationships with either of the co-parents that have sued him in the past few years. Like Bob Johnson, Future has a pattern of unhealthy relationships with women. Both figures self-medicate with substances. My mom and them used to say that a man like Future or Bob Johnson had a generational curse on their family. My contemporaries call it depression.

“Ain’t no fabrication, I’m on medication

Cough syrup, I’m infatuated…

I disguise pain when I make it rain

When I hit the club and I make it rain

When I pulled up, you know how I came”

His last line is a reference to his opening “Jumped out a new whip, nigga;” Confirming that this song is indeed the tale of Future and his friends arriving at a strip club in a brand-new luxury vehicle. But more than that, the song is a confessional. The listener enjoys two minutes and fifty-two seconds of electronically synthesized drums and symbols before Future bellows

Haitian-American educator working at the intersection of schools & prisons. I like hip hop, yoga, and politics.

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