Despite its dire-sounding title, Future’s Save Me is ultimately less a cry for help than an earnest expression of his desire for a stable relationship. Of course, when it comes to the (formerly) lean-laden, ATL trap crooner, the conditions for one are still slightly skewed. However, the resulting musical statement is one of Future’s most consistent and complete-sounding works in recent memory, including this year’s The Wizrd, on which he first began his temporized maturation process.
It’s a generally accepted truth among Future fans that his music is usually at its best when he utilizes his gravelly wail to convey a relatable emotion rather than trying to address complex ideas through his rhymes. The clear standout on Save Me in this regard is centerpiece song “Shotgun,” which is already theorized by fans to contain a veiled shot at Future’s ex Ciara via a sample of her 2006 hit “Promise.”
Although that rumor remains to be confirmed, “Shotgun” does envelop Future’s smoky vocals in a similarly hazy morass of a beat with drums that do sound suspiciously reminiscent of the speculated sample. The lyrics even contain the line, “I ain’t talkin’, girl, I’m makin’ all promises,” which lends some credence to the fan theory, although it’s just as likely Future himself wasn’t actually making any sort of connection when he wrote it.
It’s just that the cracks and strains in his voices — the precursors to similar vocal effects used by his obvious stylistic descendants like Juice WRLD, Trippie Redd, and XXXTentacion — are so convincing and so empathetic, that the listener can’t help but build the framework of a narrative to suit their connection with the material. This is then mirrored by the little we know of Future’s personal life — namely, his high-profile engagement and eventual separation from Ciara.
Of course, whether or not “Shotgun” is actually inspired by rumors of Future’s heartbreak — which is a strange interpretation of the situation, given on this very EP, he threatens to cheat on a lover with her friend(!) for catching an attitude on “St. Lucia” — it’s the evocation of the emotion that proves he’s at his best when leaning into the melodic imperfections of his voice. His sandpapered intonations are as effective of an instrument as any of the beats on Save Me, which couch his signature rasp in warm flutes, gritty guitars, and murky synth leads bolstered by the trap 808 and crackling snare rolls that have become of fixture of the subgenre he helped create.
The converse, of course, is that the lyricism on Future’s more rhythmically-oriented tracks tends to weave disconcertingly into the sort of material that undermines the empathy his melodic ones generate. Case in point, on the above mentioned “St. Lucia,” not only does Future’s pettiness rear its head, but he also burns bridges as he’s standing on them. “I wasn’t thinkin’ exclusive,” he says, before adding, “probably never see her again.” “Government Official,” with its tired flexes about meaningless sex and cocaine bumps in exotic locales, feels like a shallow retread in comparison to “Extra,” which finds Future pleading the case for his exorbitant lifestyle with a potential paramour.
Ironically, he makes that case even more strongly on the EP’s closer, “Love Thy Enemies,” once again baring the wounded persona behind the iced-out exterior: “Caught in temporary illusions / Treat me like property, but you pursuin’.” It seems as though Future is caught between two opposing versions of who he is and wants to be. As he revealed during the promotion of The Wizrd, he fears to lose the acceptance of fans who prefer him as the stoic man-child, forever crying out for help between gulps of lean. But the real Future might be the one genuinely looking for someone to see the man behind the mask, the one that doesn’t need saving in the first place.
Save Me EP is out now Epic Records. Get it here.