“Cuddle My Wrist” bleeds into “Racks Blue,” a lamentation-cum-confessional. “What I’m supposed to do when these racks blue?” he begs on the track’s hook, the question a self-referential nod to the blue tint of hundred-dollar bills. “I know my heart belongs to the ghetto / Responsibilities without humility,” he muses later, the weight of his riches once again tugging against the pressure he feels as a mega-successful artist “Comin’ from poverty, hittin’ the lottery.”
A nearly immobilizing sense of survivor’s guilt has long animated Future’s raps. On Beast Mode 2, Future revisits his struggle to both reconcile the discomfort he feels for having made it when others around him didn’t—and to understand why fame hasn’t cured him of his emotional woes. Within the compact revelation of “Red Light,” his anxiety is both external (“Runnin’ through the red light, peakin’ through the rearview / Niggas might just sneak up on the car and try to spray you”) and psychological (“Full of medication, I wouldn’t change it / I was once broke but no complainin’ / I finally start to embrace that I’m famous / It’s hard for me to erase when I was nameless”). The track is a journal entry set to strings.
Still, it doesn’t crash over listeners with nearly the same velocity as Beast Mode 2’s final song, the aptly named “Hate the Real Me.” An eschewing of any redemptive narrative, the track amplifies the cacophonous chorus of voices in Future’s head. He is pleading, apologetic, in search of the next fix to get him away from the dark corners of his own mind. Zaytoven’s keys move faster, the backing melody reminiscent of the soundtrack to a chase. “Hate the Real Me” builds and builds and builds, but Future never really ascends. The visceral effect sows anxiety, but still the rapper’s candor is comforting. Against the backdrop of Zaytoven’s holy production, Future is just a sinner like the rest of us.
Future is, of course, no stranger to flaying himself on records. Even on the rapper’s most pop radio–friendly records, he name-checks his drugs of choice, quick to remind listeners that his instincts are more for self-medicating than they are recreational. On the first Beast Mode, he took to Zaytoven’s production with a similar vulnerability. “Just Like Bruddas,” the mixtape’s climactic sixth track, saw Future juxtaposing his love of his community with his fraught relationship to narcotics:
Half a million dollars on a ring, I’m taking Percocets
Down five Xanax and I pray I wake up and forget
I been with the gang cause they love me how I am
Shit ain’t been the same, they talkin’ bout me on the ‘gram
They say I turned my back on my baby mama, I’m on them tabs
And my hood looking up to me, I love them niggas to death
Even in the after life, when ain’t a breath of me left
Future doesn’t only dance with his internal conflicts on Beast Mode or Beast Mode 2. The maladjusted lothario also has many a dalliance with a particular strain of misogyny: the cutting and manipulative digs at past lovers that some of the rapper’s fans rush to freebase. On “Cuddle My Wrist,” he “shoulda never got caught up with a cougar” (most likely a reference to the former NBA player Scottie Pippen’s wife, Larsa, with whom Future is rumored to have had an affair and continues to taunt Scottie about). Beast Mode 2 also dropped two days after its expected date, with its actual release date conspicuously corresponding with the two-year wedding anniversary of Ciara and her husband, the Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson. Naturally, some of Future’s fans have already taken the coinciding date as an opportunity to rehash the formerly betrothed artists’ messy breakup and ensuing court dramas. To watch male fans of Future derive an odd sort of glee from the continued humiliation of the rapper’s ex is disconcerting, an experience that can color the entirety of Future’s already fraught oeuvre for female fans.
But Future’s introspection, no matter how dark and brooding, is not reserved for male artists—or listeners. His raps resonate because his voice grants dexterity to pains that can feel static and unmoving. His raps are his own, but Zaytoven’s production, on both Beast Mode and Beast Mode 2, refracts the most sinuous of Future’s struggles and renders them more navigable. Beast Mode 2 is far from divine, but together Zaytoven and Future have made something sacred.