Esco

Future's streak of great records has seemed to be never-ending. First, there was the trilogy of mixtapes Monster56 Nights and Beast Mode. Then, there was the triumph of DS2, still one of his greatest achievements as an artist. He followed that up with a victory lap with Drake on What a Time to Be Alive, and kept it alive with Purple Reign and EVOL this year. This almost impossible-seeming hot streak has lasted two years now, and a very good case could be made that Future has been the best rapper active during that time.

One person who has been there just about every step of the way during that streak is DJ Esco. The DJ, born William Moore, and Magic City, the club where he spins, have been name-dropped often by Future in his music. Esco was the host and part of the inspiration for Future's 56 Nights, the title of which refers to the 56 nights Esco spent in a Dubai prison. The two have shown up side-by-side at parties, on the red carpet and in music videos; they're seemingly inseparable. When the announcement of Project E.T.: Esco Terrestrial, the latest mixtape from the duo, came, it was cause for celebration everywhere.

The mixtape is primarily an Esco release, but as the DJ, he leaves much of the work to Future. Unfortunately, the rhymer seems to be on auto-pilot for most of the 16-track project, which features production from Esco alongside DJ Mustard, Southside, Metro Boomin and Zaytoven, among others. Future has been putting out consistently great work every few months, so it may be natural that he finally released to lower his batting streak a little. Even aliens from Pluto can come crashing to Earth.

The rhymes aren't necessarily bad. It's just that with so much output on his own projects and guest features, the content has been heard many times before. Future still raps about nights filled with partying, drugs and sex with all sorts of fine women, through lenses of joy and depression (often both). Little seems to have changed for him. He just seems to be a little more complacent with his role, the hunger seems to have lessened. Even "100it Racks" with Drake and 2 Chainz falls a little flat. That is a lineup that should have created one of the summer's best songs, especially considering their past collaborations. Instead, it's a dud outside of some memorable 2 Chainz lines in which he raps about putting codeine on a salad.

Of course, there are exceptions. On "Benjamins Burn," the final track of Project E.T., we get the biggest hit. It's no surprise, considering the track is produced by Metro Boomin, who has incredible chemistry with Future. The track finds Fewtch reminiscing about his ascent from nothing to a rap star. He asks, "How many people care?" and, "How many people that gon' be there?" referring to the friends that have left him because of jealousy for his wealth. Future's always great when he gets introspective, and that combined with a dark Metro Boomin beat creates success.

The other highlights often end up coming from some of the many guests on the record. Lil Uzi Vert shines over Zaytoven's atmospheric keys on "Too Much Sauce." Future has another one of his best performances on the Young Thug collaboration "Who." The two MCs have had problems in the past, but when they floss and compare themselves to Avatar: The Last Airbender, you wish they'd work together more. Rich Homie Quan and Rae Sremmurd also shine on "Champagne Shower" and "Party Pack," respectively.

One of the more solid songs on the tape is one of the two tracks where Future doesn't show up: "Stupidly Crazy" featuring Casey Veggies and rising rhymer Nef The Pharaoh. Both get to bounce over one of DJ Mustard's best beats in a minute. This song might have the best chance at becoming a hit single out of anything on the project.

Future's hot streak seems to have cooled a bit on Project E.T., but it doesn't mean the tape is a lackluster affair. The cruise control feel is apparent, which could mean he's saving more heat for his own forthcoming project. Either way, the Future Hive will appreciate what this tandem has to offer.

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