with Torey Lanez, Zoey Dollaz, A$AP Ferg
Starplex Pavilion, Dallas
Saturday, June 24, 2017
When Future’s run from 2015-17 is discussed in history books, nights like Saturday — when Starplex hosted his Nobody Safe Tour — will be cited as proof of his supremacy in the rap world.
Sure, there are other contenders for the title, like Kendrick Lamar, Drake and maybe even Migos, but none of those acts boasts Future's prolific catalog, commercial success and string of broken records.
The rapper, Nayvadius DeMun Wilburn, has released eight projects since 2015, five of which have reached No. 1 on the Billboard charts. His two latest albums, FUTURE and HNDRXX, were released in consecutive weeks earlier this year, and both debuted at No. 1, making Future the first artist in history to release top albums in back-to-back weeks.
The Nobody Safe Tour in support of those releases brought nearly 20,000 fans to Starplex to witness the rapper at his peak. Also performing were Torey Lanez, Zoey Dollaz and A$AP Ferg.
This wasn't Future's first visit to Dallas. He's played here at least half a dozen times at different venues, such as Bomb Factory, South Side Ballroom, JMBLYA’s main stage and the American Airlines Center with Drake. He's drawn a bigger crowd each time.
As the distinct headliner and star of the show Saturday, Future worked through as much of his catalog as he could, starting with “Draco” from FUTURE. That opening track features the rapper's signature low-key trap stylings. He switches from crooning on the verse (“You will never get your bitch back”) to raspy, braggadocios rapping.
Still warming up the crowd, he stayed with FUTURE and performed “Rent Money” and “Super Trapper.” After those new cuts, the rapper jumped into a medley of best verses and hooks from older hits, such as “Karate Chop,” “Itchin," “Same Damn Time,” “Move That Dope” and “Shit.”
The placement of the last two songs on the medley felt deliberate. They’re both from his 2014 album Honest, which was largely considered a flop. At the time of its release, Future was just coming up, and it came across as a poor attempt to break into the pop stratosphere with approachable, universally appealing singles like “I Won” and “Honest.”
Future's public break-up with Ciara, the subject of those two affectionate singles, later that year created the unrelenting “Nobody Safe” rapper we know today.
“I watched my ex give up on me like I was average, that turned me into a savage,” he once tweeted.
On Saturday, Future followed up that end-of-an-era medley with a few tracks that reflect his newfound status as one of the faces of hip-hop: “Thought It Was A Drought,” “Trap N****s” and “Freak Hoe” from DS2.
At that point, the night felt like the hip-hop event of the summer. The energy was infectious as Future danced onstage and was joined by his all-male traveling dance troupe, led by Atlanta stars Meechie and Toosi. The crowd, illuminated with cellphone flashes, looked like audio waves moving with the beats.
Despite the popularity Future enjoys, he’s mysterious as a public figure. He doesn’t do much press, and his offstage persona is fairly flat. But with each tour that stops through Dallas, it's obvious that Future is becoming more comfortable onstage.
He used to pace anxiously during shows; now, his dancing almost seems choreographed, and he engages the audience. His voice sounds as good live as it does on his records, but that has always been true.
After a few more high-energy tracks like “Blasé,” "Jumpman" and “New Level” — the latter of which he performed with A$AP Ferg — Future took a break. DJ Esco kept the crowd entertained with his oddball brand of dance moves and music he produced (such as Lil Uzi Vert’s “Too Much Sauce”).
Future returned to the stage with a couple of downtempo tracks. “Incredible” is the closest thing to a love song that he has released since Honest, and based on the lackluster response from the crowd, it's unlikely he'll be making many more.
“I’m So Groovy” fared better, but it wasn’t until Future swung into his third and final act that the crowd regained its energy. This time, Future played all the hits, such as “Used To This,” “Wicked” and “Low Life."
The penultimate song of the night, “March Madness,” is one of the most important songs in Future’s catalog. It was released on the 56 Nights mixtape and is both anthemic and brutally honest, with lyrics that touch on police brutality. If you're looking for it, you'll find legitimate depth to Future’s music.
It will be interesting to see how much his career can continue to grow. He's already seemed to peak several times over, and this sold-out show is just the latest career high. Where does he go from here?
If the closing track of the night was any indication, there’s no limit to his potential. “Mask Off” is one of the songs of the summer, and 70 minutes after the start of his set, the full crowd was still as enthused as when it started, watching eagerly for Future's next move.