The 2018-19 government shutdown is objectively a losing battle. Normally, in contests like a basketball game or tic-tac-toe or backgammon, one side loses while the other wins. The defeated are left with stinging dissatisfaction that gets jumbled with a longing for improvement. Every loss, no matter how bad, can be reconciled.
The great plague infamously erased 25 percent of London’s population in the 1600s. Some 400 years later and the city, and England, are doing fine. Maybe not great, but about as well as a place could do with a pair of non-seatbelt wearing ceremonial leaders and an impending motion to withdraw from an entire continent.
Similarly, Americans reconciled the loss of a pair of matching smoke stacks that fell from the New York City skyline in 2001. September 11 marked a pivotal change the meaning of security—security at home, or abroad, on an airplane or in your own back yard—but all those affected responded by adopting a new normal.
However, unlike the bubonic plague or a terrorist attack, the government shutdown cannot be reconciled. At least not right now. The people that hold the powers of reconstructing harmony are walled out by a President who only recently matured enough to understand the concept of making a deal.
What’s worse is that despite 800,000 workers being impacted by the shutdown, few have more than a passing chance at nudging America’s actors towards a solution. Furloughed at home and away from Washington DC they are left looking at the madness unfold in solitary confinement as the news plays out on television and computer screens.
As millions of Americans wish upon a star (or a Super Blood Wolf Moon) for the shutdown to end, rapper Future is proving that, unlike the President, even a former drug dealing, lean-sipping artist knows the impact of his actions. In an interview with Rolling Stone, Future comments on his realization that his actions, specifically his raps, affected more people than just himself.
Via Rolling Stone
“‘I was like ‘Oh shit. What the fuck have I done?'” he told Rolling Stone. “It really bothered me. It bothered me a lot. More than that I thought it would bother me when he told me that. I didn’t think I’d care about that stuff. Four years ago, I probably wouldn’t have cared if he told me: ‘Oh, that was good you was drinking.’ Now it’s like, ‘Oh shit.’ How many other sixth-graders did I influence to drink lean?”
Let that set in. An artist, whose entire fortune emanates from white Styrofoam and purple soda, has remorse for his actions.
Growing up in suburban central Jersey (yes, it’s a place) and coming of age during the mid-2000s Houston Rap boom, I never fantasized about filling my neighborhood with drugs to turn a profit. I hadn’t seen a drug addict, let alone a junkie looking for his next fix.
But, like so many others, the mystique of Codeine syrup was alluring.
Now, I never knew, and still don’t, how to get my hands-on prescription strength cough syrup. I didn’t have a deathly ill relative whose pill ledger I could mooch off. Nor did I consider phoning friends who might have had access. But, determined to emulate he likes of Pimp C and Mike Jones (who?) I poured myself a cup of Tropicana fruit punch and spiked it with the only supplement I could find: over the counter cough syrup.
This foray into Theraflu abuse wasn’t even as long as the average UGK song. Definitely not as long as “International Players Anthem,” and that video was like six minutes (and amazing, mind you). This momentary lapse in judgement in which I muddied up juice with a salve of bitter cough syrup didn’t have the intended effect. None of the euphoria, or slurred speech, followed. I was simply a sixth grader who drank some funky tasting juice.
Though my infatuation with “lean” ended as quickly as it began, the same can’t be said for countless other naive rap fans. Artists like Future, Lil Wayne, even Drake popularized talk of “double cup love” for millions of impressionable idiots like myself. Rap has always been intertwined with drug culture, but the popularity of casual usage hasn’t been as prevalent as in the last two decades. Millennials grew up chanting “Popped a Molly, I’m sweating!” along with Trinidad James. We harmonized with Wayne whose vocal chords we’re coated in equal parts lean and autotune.
This influence is exactly why Future’s acknowledgement of his hand in popularizing drug culture is so impactful. Like the current shutdown, things don’t just happen to people without reason. There are catalysts, often in plain sight, that create the madness. And sometimes all it takes to right those wrongs is for one person to buck up and say, “My bad.”
But apologizing is a slow process. In Future’s latest release, Future Hendrxx Presents: The Wizrd, the promethazine fiend isn’t as blatant with his suggested substance abuse as he was in years past. The Dirty Sprite series has given way to a more conscious artist, one who is less reliant on staining his brand purple. “Tryna shake the devil, on promethazine,” he raps, not even halfway into the album’s opener, quickly juxtaposing his former substance abuse with a holier outlook.
“Call the Coroner” dives deepest into Future’s plug mentality—the intro, taken from a description of Joaquin “El Chapo Guzman on the Today Show, equates Future with the, “largest drug kingpin… responsible for hundreds of quantities of drugs moving into the United States.”
In other instances Future outright admits his misjudgment, as he does on the hook of that same track. “Big dawg but I feel just like a giant/ Withdrawals, pass my cup, I think I’m dying,” he raps. Three tracks earlier, on “Temptation,” Future croons, “I was tryna fight temptation, yeah/Top gone, it’s on vacation, yeah/I’m not tryin’ to hurt nobody.”
Otherwise, Future’s 20-track excursion through his new persona, The Wizrd, isn’t a major departure from his usual stylings. He vocals still surrounded in bass. He entrusts himself to the trap Mozarts of the day, including Tay Keith, Wheezy and Southside. The Wizrd is decisively less explorational than the R&B based HENDRXX , ignores the pop-audience he earned through collaborations with Drake, The Weeknd, while imbuing a subtly apologetic tone throughout.
Of course, apologies that don’t fix all the ills of the world. Even after the government reopens, people will still be at odds with the President. Likewise, Future’s apology won’t singlehandedly fix rap’s infatuation with drugs.
But it’s a start.