As the end of the decade nears, both Future and Meek Mill could make a convincing case for having shaped Hip Hop’s evolution through the 2010s.
The raspy-voiced Future, who hails from Atlanta, laid down the melodic blueprint for his city’s current scene — his legendary mixtape trilogy in 2015, which included Dirty Sprite 2, Beast Mode and his collaborative album with Drake, What a Time To Be Alive, solidified a Trap Rap criteria that now dominates both the airwaves and streaming charts.
Dirty Sprite 2 best encapsulates Future’s artistry: he croons atop lush, almost cinematic instrumentals, contorting his robotically autotuned delivery into a series of voice cracks and sighs that illustrate his pain. Riffing off of the traditional “Rock star” archetype, Future embodies the hedonism of life on the road while lamenting the loneliness and addiction that soon comes with them. It’s trunk-rattling music you can feel a little guilty about getting hyped to.
In recent years, success has allowed Future to delve into more experimental territory. The Save Me EP, which dropped in June, is among his moodiest work to date, especially the track “Shotgun,” which merges steely R&B with the Dream Pop glossolalia of the ’80s.
While Future shines as an aesthete, Philadelphia’s Meek Mill is noted for his storytelling. Making his major label debut in 2012 with Dreams and Nightmares, a gritty LP that juxtaposes introspective tales with vengeful bangers, sometimes on the same track. An arrest and sentencing for parole violation in 2017 made him a folk hero of sorts after abuses of discretion by judge Genece Brinkley were brought to light. Free Meek, a docuseries on the legal battle produced by Jay-Z, was released via Amazon Prime earlier this month.
His latest album, Championships, is a testament to the support he’s garnered over the past few years. It’s an hour-long effort with a star-studded cast of collaborators, from Cardi B to Kodak Black to Jay-Z himself. With a Drake-featuring hit single (“Going Bad”) still getting radio spins, it’s safe to say Meek’s having an exceptional year.
Nearly elder statesmen in an always-accelerating Hip Hop scene, Meek Mill and Future have rightfully earned their self-effacing tour title: “Legendary Nights.” The tour comes to Riverbend Music Center Tuesday, Sept. 3 and also features YG, Mustard and Megan Thee Stallion. Tickets/more show info: riverbend.org.