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Monday, May 26, 2014

Future w/ Rico Love @ The Rave


May 23, 2014



future at the rave
Photo credit: Sam Shea
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It almost didn’t matter how Future was rapping, or what he was rapping about, at The Rave Friday. A tall, commanding presence with a shock of dyed cornrows bunched like a blonde volcano exploding atop his head, he had the sold-out room lapping up his every move, many chanting along to his rhymes or what could be understood of them over the innards-rattling bass heaviness of the mix. 



Of course, in a competitive urban radio landscape, it does matter what Future raps and how. Firstly, some of the thunder of his content and style was stolen by his hype man/DJ, who warmed up the crowd by leading them through the chorus of the headliner’s 2011 breakthrough single, “Tony Montana.” There went the possibility of Future spitting that one.

But, though there was intermittent grumbling from ticket buyers that the Atlanta MC, born Nayvadius Wilburn, didn’t do every number they had hoped he would, he assayed enough to fill an hour and change worth of time before the show ended without encore.

Another reason it matters what Future raps—be it on record or on this opening date of the tour behind his second proper album, Honest—is the content of the verses themselves. Drug selling as a metaphor for machismo and street mastery is common enough within hip-hop, and though kind of played out, he lends menacing authority to numbers that chronicle that life, such as “Move That Dope” and “Shit.” On that latter track and the forceful “Same Damn Time,” among others, Future’s sexually cavalier treatment of women doesn’t exactly promote a female fan base, yet young women made up a percentage approaching half of those in attendance. 



Future’s lyrics do touch on romance, though often, as on “I Won,” he seems to be rapping more about his good taste in a mate (he’s engaged to the R&B chanteuse Ciara, the mother of his fourth child) than the inherent value of the woman he’s serenading. At least listeners at The Rave were spared Kanye West’s patently ridiculous guest couplets, wherein he desires his loved one’s butt to be dipped in gold. A trophy indeed. 



Probably most of the audience knew Rico Love spent much of his youth in Milwaukee and came by his notoriety, and thus the wherewithal to afford bling around his neck more copious than that of the headliner, as a producer/songwriter for Usher, Beyoncé, Keri Hilson and others. If they didn’t, he made the case that haters shouldn’t hate on a hometown success such as himself. And by dint of roughly half the crowd singing and rapping along to them, at least that many knew of his recent R&B radio hit, “They Don’t Know” and its follow-up currently climbing the chart, “Bitches Be Like,” both of which add appreciable textural nuance to commercial urban music’s current default status as a subdivision of electronica. As if to reinforce his position as a maven in his field, one of Love’s first moves upon hitting the stage was to bash his hand against a synthesizer a few times in a fair degree of melodic sensibleness. 



But anyone new to Love really only needed to hear the line that formed the hook for one of the first numbers in his brief set. “Champagne is my Viagra!” pithily summarizes his lyrical aesthetic of rampant libido and decadence. It also may help the uninitiated to know that on stage he sounds a tad more forceful than the somewhat lackadaisical P. Diddy-ishness of how his studio rhyming sounds. And in apparent contrast to appearances, as he’d likely gladly tell anyone as he did those in his thrall this evening, his tunes don’t dis women, but he has no use for bitches. He didn’t necessarily clarify the distinction.