Image by Alex Cook
To say Future had a good year would be an understatement. Future had a once-in-a-lifetime year (although, knowing his drive, it's one that could very well be repeated), one in which everything lined up perfectly, in which, as he says on "Kno the Meaning," hard work caught up with perfect timing. He was simultaneously the year's most prolific, artistically innovative, critically acclaimed, and consistent rapper of note. He broke through on a new level commercially and crossed over to a new audience courtesy of his joint album with Drake. He had the hottest songs. But we've explained all of that ad nauseum in the rest of our year-end coverage.
What we haven't explained is how, if Future was so good, he only ended up with one and a half songs in our best songs of the year list. The answer is simple: We couldn't make our whole list Future songs—or could we? Well, we compromised. Sure, there were other good songs, but this list might as well be the top 25 songs of the year period. After all, basically every single track Future put out this year could be a smash single, and the only thing holding most of the songs back was the fact that there were too many competing hits to choose from.
We tallied up all the songs on Future's four projects this year—Beast Mode, 56 Nights, DS2, and What a Time to Be Alive—all his loose tracks, and all his features, and voted on the best ones. In total, he appeared on more than 70 songs, and he released 42 songs on his own projects. Of those, more than 80 percent got at least one vote in our tally. Which is to say: Almost any song could have been on this list. It was a good year for Future. But these were his best songs:
25. "Plastic Bag" (Drake and Future)
Even though What A Time To Be Alive is pretty much a collection of tracks that Drake jumped on after he found them on MetroBoomin’s cutting room floor (#ItNeverHappened), this song still kicks ass. Future shines brighter than Drake—which is obvious, considering this is a list of the best 25 Future songs written by a bunch of Future Stans—but this is the track on which the two play off each other the best. Something about the quiet, pulsing beat is soothing, almost like a lullaby: “Magic City on a Monday / We worship this like it’s Sunday.” — Eric Sundermann
24. "Jump Out the Face" (Meek Mill feat. Future)
Shut your face about the Meek and Future song being included on this list because you fucked with it heavy before Drake told you Meek wasn’t cool anymore, and you really have to do some soul searching about letting a guy whose coolest move of 2015 was Sean Paul cosplay dictate what you do and don’t think about rap music. Let’s meet and review that in 2016. – Craig Jenkins
23. "Blood on the Money"
“But he doesn’t talk about anything except turning up and doing drugs!” – some dweeb talking about Future. “Blood On the Money” is what the first Good Friday sounded like. Future lays out a series of reflections and confessions that leave you shaken even when you just think of the song’s title. He explains it best, though. – Trey Smith
The first time I heard Super Future yell “YEAH I’M BACK FUCKIN’ MY GROUPIES” I changed. A glow arose that hasn’t left me since. Things I didn’t deem possible were suddenly possible. “Groupies” restored my confidence at a time when it was broken. I became a savage. I like it this way. I’m never going back. – CJ
21. "MMM" (Puff Daddy feat. Future and King Los)
The title track of Sean “Interchangeable Nickname” Combs’s plush mixtape-before-the-album #MMM feels like somebody trying to recreate a bygone silver screen drug cartel classic from memory. Faintly 80s, obsessed with South America, and full of money, “MMM” revels in the precarious moment in any good gangster flick’s second act where our protagonist’s ambition, means, and recklessness meet to make him the biggest badass on the planet. I still don’t know what the hell Future is even saying on the chorus besides “MONEY. MAKIN’. MITCH.” but it doesn’t matter because you’re too busy hitting a slow, involuntary Diddy bop when it’s on to mince words about the lyrics. – CJ
20. "I Serve the Base"
“This remind me when I had nightmares” Future says, and, yeah, it sounds like that. Maybe you thought, in 2015, we had exhausted all possible technology for making a song harder and more badass. But Metro Boomin always wants some more, and Future’s base deserves to be served, and, frankly, people are looking for another serving of the bass, too. Post-purple Actavis baptism, Future wants to make sure that’s exactly what happens. “A nigga was depressed now my mind back healthy,” he points out, fully aware that you make an even better Fire Marshal when you’ve been through the fire. – Kyle Kramer
There is no better feeling than walking into a room and feeling like you own the place, like the rules for the plebes don’t apply for you, like, no matter what the dress code is, you’re the best-dressed person there. Ideally, we’d all feel like this all the time—not just like a million bucks, but as if we had a million bucks to light on fire. With “Jersey,” we can. – KK
18. "Where Ya At" (feat. Drake)
Getting on a song with Drake was almost a death wish: The Toronto rapper has an uncanny ability to suck an artist’s charisma out of their body like a swag Dementor. But Future managed to not only hold on, but suck back. Future spent the entire first verse floating and gloating, and by the time Drake made an appearance there were no hands raised for the day ones. Where ya ass was at when they were filming the “Tony Montana” video? – Slava Pastuk
17. "Fuck Up Some Commas"
[Ed .note: Yeah, it came out in 2014, which docks some points, but it’s on DS2, so shut up.] Try to think of a time in 2015 where you could hear those tinkling piano keys that start off "Commas" and not immediately seek cover. You probably can't, because this song was the go-to tear-the-club-up banger of 2015, and as an added bonus, it served as a great joke for bad, editors. – SP
16. "No Compadre"
Future is undoubtedly the star here, with another infectious hook. But all kudos should be paid to producer Southside for crafting a beat that sounds like a robot dying. It’s all the cold savagery of Optimus Prime decapitating Megatron despite reaching a truce at the end of Transformers: Dark of the Moon, embodied in a song. – Jabbari Weekes
15. "Blasé" (Ty Dolla Sign feat. Future and Rae Sremmurd)
You want to know the meaning of greatness? The true idea of you do what you want when you’re popping? For an entire song—a whole five minutes—Future essentially sings “blah, blah, blah” like a goddamn infant, and it’s still fire. – JW
14. "The Percocet and Stripper Joint"
Future loves to drop a real hip-hop bomb on heads whose arch complaint is that he “can’t rap,” going toe-to-toe with Andre 3000 on Honest’s “Benz Friendz (Whatchutola)” and most recently, lighting up #BARZ with DS2’s “The Percocet and Stripper Joint.” He really outdoes himself on the latter, rolling out lyrical miracle bars about partying too hard over a beat from Southside that sounds like someone left a g-funk tape out in the sun to melt. The fact that this only a bonus track—that there are feasibly people who own a version of DS2 that doesn’t include it—is a travesty. – CJ
One of the most appealing things about Future—particularly when he gets finds his Future Hendrix self—is that he’s unafraid of spitting whatever is on his mind, no matter how problematic. “Peacoat,” off Beast Mode, is one of the most cocky and misogynistic songs on the tape (he spends the refrain repeating the luxury brands he’s sporting; he spends the verses rapping about having risqué sex that includes peeing). But the catch is that Future isn’t… happy. The tone of the song is that he hates himself for feeling this way; he hates himself for needing these vices—drugs, clothes, women, more drugs—to get through his day-to-day life. It’s heartbreaking. — ES
12. "High Fashion" (Travi$ Scott feat. Future)
Despite the criticisms one could lodge against Tartvac Scout, one thing he's great at is composing a song. Pulling all the right pieces together to complete a work is a skill itself, and there are few in the modern rap landscape better at it. Trebus enlisted Metro Boomin, Southside, and WondaGurl to create the perfect platform for him to show off, but more importantly for Future to give one of his most soul-spilling displays of the year. The trick, as is with most Future verses, is to listen to the feeling along with the lyrics—but more so here. – TS
11. "Thought It Was a Drought"
The now-legendary opening song of Future’s DS2 is one of those magical songs where everyone likes it for the same reason: I didn’t even have to write out the words, but I bet you already started humming about coitus and sandals. What better way to start out your definitive album than a song in which every lyric is instantly iconic? – JW
10. "Kno the Meaning"
Future's been pointing out his capacity for self-reinvention for years, and 2015 was the moment he took that talent to another level. Future sums up that whole arc of the last few years better on this song than any writing about it ever could, so just go ahead and listen and leave convinced that we just witnessed a historical year. Then go ahead and cry because Future told you: There's no holding back. – KK
9. "Lay Up"
This is “Hotline Bling” for real niggas. Zaytoven’s earned his place in the Rock ‘N’ Roll Hall of Fame. Listen to this masterpiece instead of sharing your weak argument about how I’m wrong. ‘Cause I’m not. – TS
8. "Diamonds from Africa"
If there is one takeaway from this song, it’s that diamonds are forever but Future’s happiness isn’t. In between boasts of an extensive jewelery collection that rivals a continent, Nayvadius briefly expresses contempt (“None of this money that matter, all of my niggas they matter / I told you I got all these problems that come with this money so fuck it) before gleefully returning to a life of shallow opulence. It's happy and sad, yet an undeniable banger that raises the question that sits at the cornerstone of every Future track to date: If this song is so sad, why does it go so hard? – JW
7. "Stick Talk"
Don't worry. We checked. "Stick Talk" still sounds like that. – ES
6. "Blow a Bag"
One of the best subgenres of Future songs is the hard-won come-up anthem, and here Future glides through a standout example just as smoothly as when he pulls up in his Wraith and embarrasses everyone, maneuvering his way into a pop hit while imagining how proud his granddad would be of his success. It’s the melodic high point of DS2 and the moment Future gives the biggest nod to his friends, a reminder that the only thing more valuable than a bag of money is a bag of friendship. What other music this year makes success sound so satisfying? – KK
5. "56 Nights"
One night a friend passed out on my couch while 56 Nights (album) played. “56 Nights” (song) came on, and as soon as that 808 siren blared she jolted awake, startled, then after a few minutes fell back asleep. In the morning she asked, “What was that song that like... awakened natural molly in me?” This track is Future running full speed from the demons that chase him toward the happiness he seeks and that’s always just out of his grasp. It's the perfect conclusion to the mixtape trilogy, providing closure to this chapter of a story that's still just beginning. – TS
4. "Trap Niggas"
“Trap Niggas” might contain the greatest image in any Future song this year: the hustler waking up to grab his piece before he even brushes his teeth. It also has one of the best lines: “God blessin’ all the trap niggas.” Think about it: If Jesus walked the earth in 2015 he would minister to the bandos, not the board rooms. The apostle Nayvadius be knowing. – CJ
3. "News or Somthn"
“News or Somthn” surfaced online in late June between the ferocious Future projects 56 Nights and DS2, and it embodies Nayvadius’s emotional, free spirit romantic side. On the track, which feels suited for cruising down an expressway, painfully screaming at the top of your lungs, we experience peak Future Hendrix (the song also ends with a 45-secondish long guitar solo). The attitude with which Future raps and sings—“a full moon in the middle of the day”—is one that’s longing for something, but who the hell knows what. He’s just driving, singing, and dealing with whatever it is he doesn’t want to deal with. In true Future fashion, a song that just randomly popped up on Soundcloud is one of the best he’s ever released. — ES
2. "Just Like Bruddas"
Forget Beethoven, Zay is the trap music Chopin on the keys here (ironically, Young Chop is probably the more baroque, Symphony No. 5 guy), building a twinkling reverie in which Future can get lost and drift away on Xanax bars to forget about his ex. He does that beautifully, both in painting a scene full of intricate details (i.e. the smell of gunpowder on money) and moments of triumph (i.e. the wordplay of "Free BG!") and in showing his own collapse. The line "I down five zannies and I pray I wake up and forget" is a key moment in the grand project of Understanding Future's Pain. In Future's breakup story suite, this song is the numbed aftermath to the self-destructive chaos of "Throw Away" and "Codeine Crazy," a moment of Future catching himself yet also further losing himself that should feel familiar to anyone in a personal tailspin. But it's also a celebration of friendship, of the kind of friends who would rightfully punch you out for calling this song a "twinkling reverie" because, damn, stop overthinking Future and just feel it. – KK
1. "March Madness"
Listening to it is the happiest I’ve felt all year. And if you've been through some shit you understand too. – TS
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