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Mixtape Review: DJ Esco, Black Woodstock (Hosted by Future)

At some point in the year since the release of Pluto, Future stopped releasing mixtapes like he used to. His October-scheduled Super Future/Fire Marshall Future mixtape never saw the light of day, or maybe it was just repackaged as the Freebandz collective F.B.G.:The Movie mixtape from the top of this year. “At this point, they see every Future song as capital” said Metro Boomin’, producer of “Karate Chop”, in an interview with this publication earlier this year. “So the label isn’t really feeling him putting out 20 free songs.” If there’s any truth to Metro’s seemingly astute observation, then Future’s certainly done his best to con the powers that be by releasing music regularly under the guise of Freebandz compilations and various Atlanta DJ’s projects. So Black Woodstock is a DJ Esco mixtape, but really it’s a reason to give us seven new Future songs and a handful from his cohorts.

Future gets the heavy lifting out of the way early on Black Woodstock. The tape’s leadoff, “Keys”, sees Future tiptoeing through a beat that’s equally as weird as “Karate Chop” and slightly less fun. “We Made Our Own,” arguably a rip-off of Rick Ross’ “911”, also dabbles in the “good enough” territory, though none of the songs here really reach the “Karate Chop” or “Mark McGwire” levels of F.B.G.: The Movie. “Rehab (Amy Winehouse)” is a standout if you’re into the notoriously overlooked vulnerable and concerned side of Future he showcased on Pluto sleeper “Permanent Scar.”

As far as the sidekicks go, Future’s actually done pretty well for himself. 19-year-old Slice 9 is the most developed and polished of the bunch, showing radio instincts on “Young Nigga Problems,” his lone appearance on Black Woodstock. Future’s brother Casino plays a supporting role on several tracks that’s impressive enough and Atlanta radio DJ turned rapper Stuey Rock might have a legitimate regional hit on his hands with the Future-assisted “Blow Them Bands.” It’s a little heavy on the Stuey Rock and a little light on Future, but has Atlanta airwaves written all over it, especially if he’s able to continue playing his own music on the radio.

“Karate Chop” had humble beginnings on DJ Spinz and Pretty Boy Tank’s We Are The Radio Vol. 6 and there’s a handful of other Future game changers that first saw the light of day on releases such as these (The response from “No Love” off Spinz’ HBG 2 tape last month prompted Future to announce he’d be shooting a video for the record). Unfortunately, there really aren’t any songs of that caliber to be found here. Future’s at a point now where any new music warrants a great deal of excitement, so Black Woodstock’s mediocrity comes as a bit of a letdown. The thing is though, Future’s mediocre is still more engaging than a lot of people’s best.—Neil Martinez-Belkin (@Neil_MB)