EVERY FUTURE PROJECT
No one works harder than Future. Over the course of his career, the Atlanta native has released so many albums, mixtapes, EPs, and soundtracks that he has enough projects to fill up a full 32-team bracket. So, in time for March Madness, we ranked every project in Future’s discography. For those who want to play along at home, we created a bracket and seeded it based on the rankings you see below.
Find the bracket on the Complex Twitter account and let us know which Future project you would have crowned No. 1.
32. ‘FDU & FREEBANDZ’ (2011)
Five years after rising to fame as host of BET’s Rap City, the radio personality known as J-Nicks had rebranded himself as rapper Stuey Rock, relocating to Atlanta and collaborating with local artists. The first FDU & Freebandz mixtape featured Stuey Rock’s high voice and melodic flow as an entertaining counterpoint to Future’s deeper, raspier voice on songs like “Pussy So Good.” But it speaks volumes that the best-remembered moment from FDU & Freebandz is a Future solo track, “Tony Montana,” which stands out among the brighter, sillier Stuey Rock cuts.
31. ‘RICO WADE PRESENTS DA CONNECT /
DUNGEON FAMILY – 2ND GENERATION’ (2003)
Nayvadius Wilburn was fresh out of high school when an older cousin, Organized Noize producer Rico Wade, took him under his wing. Future, then rapping under the name Meathead, joined the group Da Connect. Wade marketed them as “Dungeon Family – 2nd Generation,” something of an expansion team for the Atlanta collective. The album is awkwardly caught between eras, holding down the lush Organized Noize aesthetic (even as the more aggressive sound of artists like Lil Jon was taking over) while stars like Ludacris and Bubba Sparxxx drop by with guest verses. Meathead’s voice stands out even in its brief appearances, although there’s nothing that foreshadows the major stardom the rapper would enjoy nearly a decade later.
30. ‘KNO MERCY’ (2010)
Kno Mercy found Future sharpening his skills early in his career and giving listeners a taste of his easily digestible and catchy club bangers. Songs like “Old Hundreds” created a lane for the young artist and made him a staple in Atlanta clubs, where DJs would regularly dedicate whole sets to songs from Future’s mixtapes. Even if this tape didn’t quite offer a window into his soul, a skill he’d perfect by Dirty Sprite, Kno Mercy is still a worthwhile listen, and it shows just how far Future has come in only nine years.
29. ‘BLACK WOODSTOCK: THE SOUNDTRACK’ (2013)
DJ Esco’s 2013 mixtape Black Woodstock is, like many of his tapes, disguised as a vehicle to release loosies from Future. As the title suggests, the tape is heavier than usual on the drugged-out content, with songs like the awkwardly titled “Rehab (Amy Winehouse),” which sees Future digging into the self-deprecating lyricism that would give him a second wind in 2015. Arriving between the release of his debut studio album and Honest, Black Woodstock is a minor stop that failed to inspire undying love from most hardcore fans, but there are a few gems on here, nonetheless.
28. ‘FDU & FREEBANDZ: RELOADED’ (2011)
Future and Stuey Rock’s second mixtape together, released just a few months after the first, serves as something of a refinement of the original, reprising its best song: the goofy sex jam “Pussy so Good.” It also features DJ Scream’s remix of “Shinin’,” featuring Tity Boi and Gucci Mane, a minor classic of Atlanta trap circa 2011. “Same Damn Time” also makes an appearance, as it often did on Future mixtapes during this period. While FDU & Freebandz: Reloaded is relatively low on new exclusives, it makes up for it by being consistently listenable, with moments like Stuey Rock doing his best The-Dream impression on “Never Gonna Stop.”
27. ‘RUN YA BANDS’ (2013)
Run Ya Bands is one of the most filler-heavy mixtapes Future has ever been a part of. West Coast veteran JT the Bigga Figga assembled the tape to capitalize on the popularity of “Run Ya Bands,” a track from Young Scooter’s Street Lottery mixtape. Future only appears on half of the tracks, and to be fair, most of them are Zaytoven-produced bangers like “Bonkers” and “Style Superb.” But Future and JT have little musical chemistry together, and the mixtape is padded out with several solo tracks by Tre Carver that feel like they were dropped in from another project.
26. ‘1000’ (2010)
The title of Future’s debut mixtape, 1000, isn’t a nod to the number of songs he releases every year; it is mostly a mission statement about the content of his music at the time. Standout songs like “All I Want Is Some Money” and “Yeah Yeah” are club anthems, but they also contain heart and soul that weren’t present in a lot of the pop-rap hybrids that were coming out of Atlanta at the time. Future seemed destined to break through to the mainstream, even at this early stage, and 1000 would serve as a precursor to his unforgettable run in later years.
25. ‘FREE BRICKS 2: ZONE 6 EDITION’ (2016)
Five years after they joined forces for the first Free Bricks, Gucci Mane and Future reunited for 24 hours to crank out an abbreviated six-song sequel. By this point, Gucci had been out of prison for six months, and he had already fallen back into the swing of things with two new albums. Still, you can hear where their styles had grown in different directions: The Southside-produced “Die a Gangsta” in particular sounds like Future in his comfort zone, with Gucci merely showing up for a verse at the end. The EP does have its moments, though. “Kind a Dope” and “Zone 6” with Zaytoven, who has made classics with both MCs, land in a sweet spot between Hard to Kill and Beast Mode.
24. ‘NO SLEEP’ (2013)
Dropping a week before Christmas in 2013, DJ Esco’s No Sleep was Future’s final release during a year in which he became a hook factory, lacing Lil Wayne, Rick Ross, DJ Khaled, Ace Hood, Rocko, and many others with catchy choruses. No Sleep opens with “How Can I Not,” the closest Future has ever come to a dramatic JAY-Z-style album intro, addressing his biters and detractors on one long verse with no hook: “The day I stop using Auto-Tune, that’s when it’s gon’ die/Until then I create melodies that’s influenced by Promethazine/I was chasing bricks before I chased the dream.” The songs on the tape that are anchored by Future are strong, although previously released singles by Shy Glizzy and Young Thug feel like unnecessary filler. The Metro Boomin-produced “Maison Margiela” is No Sleep’s most enduring song, with shouted verses and a quiet, restrained hook.
23. ‘FREE BRICKS’ (2011)
At the turn of the decade, Gucci Mane’s Brick Factory was the incubator for new and up-and-coming acts like Migos, Young Thug, and Peewee Longway, who all influenced Atlanta in their own ways under his tutelage. However, Gucci hadn’t yet teamed with someone quite like Future, who was nearly fully formed by the time they released Free Bricks together in 2011. Where the aforementioned acts were picking their own fruits from Guwop’s learning tree, Future felt right at home next to Gucci—keeping up with bodacious boasts on songs like “Stevie Wonder” (“I got more ammo than Gilbert Arenas”) and providing melodic color commentary on standout track “Lamborghini.”
22. ‘STREETZ CALLING’ (2011)
Streetz Calling was, in many ways, the birth of the Future that the world would get to know on Pluto a few months later. The mixtape featured the debut of one of Pluto’s hits, “Same Damn Time,” as well as songs that would provide a sturdy blueprint for his career. The project benefited from having far more solo tracks than Dirty Sprite or True Story, including “Running Through a Check,” and “Power of That P.” The opening track, “Made Myself a Boss,” is perhaps most famous now for being referenced on “Fuck Up Some Commas,” but it remains one of the catchiest tracks Future has made with Zaytoven.
21. ‘WRLD ON DRUGS’ (2018)
The concept of a collaborative project between Future and Juice WRLD was tantalizing. Following in the syrupy, melody-driven trail Future had blazed for the better part of a decade, Juice had just emerged with his breakout hit “Lucid Dreams” and was looking to prove himself alongside a bona fide star. A year earlier, in 2017, Juice had even tweeted, “The day I make a collab tape with Future is the day I made it.” WRLD on Drugs has its moments (“Fine China” and “Hard Work Pays Off” are both worthwhile additions to any playlist), but it ultimately falls short of expectations due to a lack of focus and forgettable songwriting. The raw talent of Future and Juice turned this into a passable project, but it’s easy to tell these guys made the whole thing in less than a week.
20. ‘BEAST MODE 2’ (2018)
If there was ever any doubt about the long-promised sequel to 2015’s Beast Mode actually coming to fruition, it was only because Future and Zaytoven kept doing songs together on other projects, including DS2, Future, the Superfly soundtrack, DJ Esco’s Project E.T., and the producer’s own Trapholizay. But it’s a testament to their creative chemistry that the duo still had nine strong songs on hand for Beast Mode 2, including the searing, tortured closing track, “Hate the Real Me.” Zaytoven’s ivory-tickling production style is in many ways brighter and lighter than the Southside and Metro Boomin tracks that dominate most Future albums, making both entries in the Beast Mode invaluable.
19. ‘ASTRONAUT STATUS’ (2012)
Future boasted that Astronaut Status would be his last mixtape (it wasn’t, of course), but it nonetheless saw his pre-Pluto era go out with a bang. With club-ready anthems like “Birds Take a Bath” and “My Ho 2,” the mixtape reinforced Future’s dedication to making rap hits that could outlive the typically limited lifespan of pop-rap songs of the time. Astronaut Status is also notable for the production talents of Sonny Digital, Will A Fool, and K.E. on the Track, who provided an unmistakable soundscape for Future in his early days (and blew up their respective careers in the process).
18. ‘EVOL’ (2016)
In August 2014, BuzzFeed reported on Future and Ciara’s broken engagement, citing an unnamed friend of the rapper who said he’d begun working on a mixtape entitled Evol, for “love spelled backwards.” Future’s next project didn’t bear that title, nor did the subsequent five he released, but the BuzzFeed source was substantiated when Future finally released Evol 18 months later. Despite the title and the smoldering roses on the cover, Evol sounds less like a breakup album than Hndrxx or Monster. In fact, it’s one of the most numb, emotionally distant records in Future’s discography, full of disrespectful bangers like “In Her Mouth.” But there’s still pathos in what Future won’t say, a heartbreak beneath the hedonism, in the vein of the Weeknd, who is the album’s only guest on the hit single “Low Life.”
17. ‘DIRTY SPRITE’ (2011)
“I’m throwin’ money in the air, bitch, holdin' back tears” is both an encapsulation of Future’s musical aesthetic and one of the defining lines of his 2011 mixtape Dirty Sprite. The tape kicked off a string of releases he’d have that year, and even though he’s at his rawest in terms of songwriting throughout the project, you can hear the sound that would eventually influence the rest of Atlanta. Dirty Sprite is a wild listen in hindsight; Future almost seems muted next to a mountain of guest features, but he still carries the tape on the back of his stellar choruses (“Racks”) and soul-baring lyrics.
16. ‘F.B.G: THE MOVIE’ (2013)
A Future mixtape that is cleverly advertised as a Freebandz compilation mixtape, the DJ Drama-hosted FBG: The Movie is brash and unforgiving, giving us stunting soundtracks like “Mark McGwire” and heroic anthems like “Chosen One” that finally answer pressing questions (Why did Future buy a Phantom? He always wanted one?). What’s even more interesting here is that Future was still using mixtapes as incubators for future hits. ”Karate Chop” (with a feature from his brother Casino) was an underground smash that eventually found its way onto his 2014 album Honest.
15. ‘SUPER SLIMEY’ (2017)
Enemies-turned-friends Young Thug and Future took their Instagram stunting antics into the booth for a surprise joint album. On Super Slimey, Thug is willing to occasionally play a supporting role, letting Future take the reigns lyrically and provide the melody for songs like “No Cap” and “200.” The motto on the album is “fun,” and unlike many thrown-together joint albums that have come out since (ironically) Drake and Future’s What a Time to Be Alive, this one sounds like the two rappers genuinely enjoy each other’s company. On “4 da Gang,” however, Future takes a break from the levity of the album to pay tribute to the man who made it all possible: his late friend and engineer Seth Firkins.
14. ‘SUPERFLY (ORIGINAL MOTION PICTURE SOUNDTRACK)’ (2018)
2018 was a banner year for black Hollywood and hip-hop royalty joining forces for blockbuster soundtracks, from Kendrick Lamar with Black Panther to Mike Will Made-It with Creed II. But Future had the biggest shoes to fill; Curtis Mayfield’s 1972 soundtrack album for the original Super Fly was a blaxploitation classic. Although he drafts one of his Dungeon Family mentors, Sleepy Brown, to lay down some Mayfield-inspired falsettos on a couple of tracks, Future largely stays in his contemporary comfort zone for Superfly. “Walk on Minks” is one of his best Zaytoven anthems, and there are several Young Thug features that quietly upstage his collaborations with Future on Super Slimey from a few months earlier.
13. ‘PROJECT E.T.’ (2016)
“Benjamins Burn,” the closer on Project E.T., finds Future talking about his studio habits. “Try to make 10 songs a day before I’m drowsy,” he raps. “I don’t want to get in a slump and get lousy.” Future manages to avoid being “lousy” on Project E.T., but he sometimes lands at uninspired instead. He does something that seems impossible and makes a mediocre Future/Drake/2 Chainz collab on “100it Racks.” He also audibly loses focus and runs out of ideas on cuts like “Who.” But there are great moments that remind you why you’re listening: the bleak but incredible “Thot Hoe,” for example, and the darkly funny “Juice.” There are also winning features from Juicy J and Lil Uzi Vert—proof that Future can inspire even when he’s uninspired himself.
12. ‘HONEST’ (2014)
Honest is the most divisive album in Future’s catalog, loved by some and hated by others. The highly anticipated and repeatedly delayed follow-up to Pluto was, in some ways, a victim of its own success. Big-name guests stopped by to be a part of the album, but the results were often underwhelming, like Drake’s edited-down cameo on “Never Satisfied” and Kanye West’s cringe-inducing appearance on “I Won.” Even the left turns, including the Amadou & Mariam sample that opened the album on “Look Around,” didn’t quite land. Still, there are enough undeniably great songs like “I Be U” and the title track that Honest can’t and shouldn’t be dismissed as a forgotten chapter in Future’s career.
11. ‘PURPLE REIGN’ (2016)
Purple Reign is the dark horse of Future’s most prolific period. It was his last full-length mixtape released on the black market, with no official release on iTunes or streaming services, and it was quickly overshadowed by the release of the chart-topping Evol album three weeks later. But the commercial success of the Purple Reign standout “Wicked,” which was later added as a bonus track to Evol, helped assure that it wouldn’t be completely buried. The project benefits from a strikingly stripped-down sound on tracks like the ominous intro “All Right” and “Perkys Calling,” with its spare piano loop. While the title track is no match for Prince’s “Purple Rain,” the woozy closer earns the distinction of being Future’s most twisted love song about lean.
10. ‘WHAT A TIME TO BE ALIVE’ (2015)
When Future and Drake joined forces for a collaborative project in 2015, they were each coming off career highpoints. Future had just put out three of his best projects—DS2, 56 Nights, Beast Mode—earlier in the year, and Drake was less than three months removed from (momentarily) ending Meek Mill with “Back to Back.” Understandably, What a Time to Be Alive failed to live up to the impossibly high expectations set by some fans, but it yielded memorable hits like “Jumpman” and “Big Rings,” and served as an upper-tier entry in their respective discographies. Sure, it didn’t produce multiple No. 1 songs like some had hoped for, but if you revisit the tape years later, distanced from hype and expectations, you’ll be pleasantly surprised by the quality of sleeper cuts like “Plastic Bag” and “Diamonds Dancing.” Not bad for an impromptu project created in six days.
9. ‘TRUE STORY’ (2011)
2011 acted as a formative year for Future. He released six (!!!) mixtapes in the lead-up to his debut album, Pluto, in 2012. True Story represented the moment Future’s ship started leaving the station, so to speak, as it featured the underground hits that would become a staple in his early career (“Ain’t No Way Around It,” “Magic,” “Tony Montana”) as well as some of his most polished mixtape work (“Championship Music,” “Feeling I Get”). On True Story, more than any of the other projects released at the time, you get the sense that Future was really getting into his groove with his songwriting and hooks; nearly every song here feels up to the caliber of the work found on his studio albums.
8. ‘PLUTO’ (2012)
It might be forgotten by some, but Future’s major-label debut, Pluto, was his signature project for years—a sleeper hit that spun off five radio hits, which lingered on the Billboard charts for well over a year. On “Turn on the Lights” and “Neva End,” Future revealed a romantic side of himself that had scarcely been hinted at on his early mixtapes, creating a lush new sound with Mike Will Made-It and cementing his status as one of rap’s premier melodic songwriters. Big Rube provided the spoken-word intro to affirm Future’s Dungeon Family roots, and the album just keeps the anthems coming right up through the triumphant closing track, “You Deserve It.”
7. ‘FUTURE HNDRXX PRESENTS: THE WIZRD’ (2019)
In 2019, Future appeared before us as a changed man. He gave clear-eyed and lucid interviews about cutting codeine from his life, reconciling with his old pal Rocko, and having a renewed focus on his legacy. Future Hndrxx Presents: The Wizrd acts as the season finale to this era of his life, featuring callbacks to his most popular works in the form of several interludes that remind listeners of Honest and DS2. Though not as incendiary as Future, the album walks a tightrope between giving the fans what they want and allowing Future to (loudly) wax poetic about the stamp he’s put on music. On standout track “Krazy but True,” he calls for respect, demanding his flowers from the listener and the from industry as a whole.
6. ‘MONSTER’ (2014)
Future flipped a switch on Monster, which trades in the varietal approach of his previous release Honest for kush- and lean-influenced rhymes that are strictly for his day ones. Moreover, it features the Atlanta artist in some of his rawest moments on wax. Both the title track and “Wesley Presley” highlight his depraved lifestyle, with an assist from executive producer Metro Boomin, while “Codeine Crazy” serves as a confessional for a tortured soul. Future doesn’t shy away from the controversy surrounding his breakup with Ciara, either: The intro includes sound bites about their engagement and split. While Future has said that the second half of “Throw Away” is not about his ex-fiancée, there seem to be parallels to how their relationship ended in reality. The mixtape also produced an unexpected hit in “Fuck Up Some Commas,” which reached No. 55 on the Billboard Hot 100 and has since gone double platinum. Monster may not be Future’s most fully realized project, but it set the tone for a string of releases that reinvigorated the rapper’s career, which makes it an essential listen in his catalog.
5. ‘FUTURE’ (2017)
Even if Future contained 19 tracks of Metal Machine Music-style noise plus “Mask Off,” it would still make this list’s top 10. The track is so massive, so influential (that flute!), and such a perfect distillation of what makes Future so great that it ensures people will be playing this album for years to come. But that’s far from Future’s only highlight. While the project doesn’t quite rise to the wild heights of its companion album, Hndrxx, there’s plenty of aggressive, pissed-off, rich, and sad Future (and enough crazy 808 Mafia beats) to make this a top-tier project in his extensive discography.
4. ‘BEAST MODE’ (2015)
Beast Mode was the tape that set off Future’s memorable 2015 run, which ended with What a Time to Be Alive that September. The Zaytoven-produced tape was full of Future classics like “Oooooh,” “Peacoat,” “Just Like Bruddas,” and “Real Sisters,” as if to get us prepared for what was to come. He and Zaytoven were rap’s answer to Quincy and Michael in those days. At the time, we wondered if he’d be able to top this, but he did it twice, with 56 Nights and then DS2. That’s like if Mike followed Off the Wall with two Thrillers. You can’t even be mad that this was only nine tracks when you remember Illmatic was 10 songs long.
3. ‘HNDRXX’ (2017)
Future fans (and Future himself) point to the pop experimentation of Honest as the rough draft of Hndrxx, a polished collection of emotionally raw tracks that find him at his most vulnerable. Throughout the project, Future is open about his failed relationships (and his own culpability in their demise), his personal demons, and his own narcissism. The album even ends with the three-song string of “Selfish,” “Solo” and “Sorry.” The emotions are bruising and at times ugly—the album opener contains the refrain “Even if I fucked you once, you part of my collection”—but the beats are a beautiful collection of sparse yet effervescent production from the likes of Detail, Dre Moon, Southside, and more. I’ve always looked at “Throw Away,” the emotional roller coaster on Monster, as more of a preview of Hndrxx than Honest was. Like Future and Hndrxx, "Throw Away" is a clean demarcation of Future’s alternating modes: the savage beast and charming prince. Until Hndrxx, that duality manifested across his projects in a more Jekyll and Hyde fashion, but on this album, the curse was finally (temporarily?) broken.
2. ‘56 NIGHTS’ (2015)
56 Nights is a victory lap and a celebration of perseverance. It’s a fitting mood for the final chapter in the mixtape trilogy that, along with predecessors Monster and Beast Mode, saw Future both reassert his dominance and reclaim his voice. As the legend goes, after that first tape, DJ Esco was behind bars in Dubai and Future found himself without the right-hand man responsible for helping reignite his spark in the first place. Following Esco’s release, the duo confronted the tribulations head on in both the project title (the duration of Esco's sentence) and subject matter. 56 Nights is the sound of a master fully back in his bag, getting one last stretch in before the marathon. It contains the crown jewel of his discography in “March Madness” and one of his most reliable club bangers in “Trap Niggas.” Both songs are testaments to his lightning-strike recording mentality. If parts of Honest felt forced, this run was Future letting go in the booth and giving in to God. Much to his surprise, it turns out he saved a blessing for the trap niggas after all. The rest is history, as premeditated on the project’s second song: “Never Gon Lose.”
1. ‘DS2’ (2015)
DS2 begins with an incredible opener, “Thought It Was a Drought.” The Metro Boomin production combines with the now-famous line, “Dirty soda, Spike Lee/White girl, Ice-T/Fully loaded AP/I just fucked your bitch in some Gucci flip flops,” preparing us for an unforgettable experience. Future had already run circles around other rappers all year in 2015, and DS2 was his victory lap. When the Dirty Sprite sequel dropped dropped, “March Madness” from 56 Nights was being crowned Song of the Year and Song of the Summer, and everyone was quick to compare DS2 to Beast Mode and 56 Nights. But this was the album that really drove home Future’s rich sad guy persona. The feeling of paranoia about being a rich rapper unable to find love oozed out of every track. DS2 could work as the unofficial soundtrack to Disney’s Beauty and the Beast, honestly. Hopefully Future will be able to top this work of art, because sometimes you need raps that channel your inner piece of shit.