Photos by the author
Welcome to Teen Time!, Noisey's music column written by a teen. Previously, we had our teen interview his teachers about music, ask his fellow high schoolers what music they listen to, and explore the music at the mall. Now, our teen is headed back to school for senior year.
Back in July, Future dropped his third full-length Dirty Sprite 2, the follow-up to last year’s Honest. DS2 came in on top of the Billboard 200 when it debuted, and has since been in and around the chart’s Top 20 region. The album’s been a magnet for critical praise, noted for its confessional, dramatic lyricism, and production that’s complementary to Future’s palpable energy. DS2’s deluxe version includes cuts from the three mixtapes Future released previously, like the magisterial hit “Fuck Up Some Commas” (from Monster) and the crestfallen anthem “Trap Niggas” (56 Nights).
This past Thursday, I went back to school to go pick up my class schedule for senior year. I’d added the DS2 deluxe version a few weeks ago to the “My Music” category on my phone, since my three-month “free” trial of Apple Music was still available. With my earbuds in and DS2 on blast, I walked around school to find my classroom locations, among other things.
“Thought It Was A Drought”: DS2 won’t stream initially because I’m not connected to a Wi-Fi network (contrary to all the other albums in “My Music,” which I can stream without Wi-Fi); so I turn my data on and begin listening. A sign in the main lobby says that schedule pickup is in the LGI, the school’s lecture hall-style classroom. I walk into the chilly room with my packet in hand, over to the mini-stage where some faculty members are sitting. I hand over my packet to the respective “Team” representative (I’m in Team 3, which is for last names towards the end of the alphabet) and get my schedule. Going back out into the hallway, I hear Future deliver carnal (“I just fucked your bitch in some Gucci flip flops”) and surreal (“I just took a piss and I seen codeine coming out”) imagery.
“I Serve The Base”: The stairwell to the second floor is sweltering compared to the LGI. A buzzsaw synth, looping throughout “Base,” is relentless, especially up against Future’s more relaxed delivery. I do a lap around the second floor, traversing through an almost pitch-black hall (save for little glimmers of sunlight that beam through doorways).
“Where Ya At” (featuring Drake): One of the noteworthy aspects of DS2 is the lack of guest verses, marked by Future taking on the majority of the tracklist’s rapping. “Where Ya At” is an exception, with Drake making an appearance about halfway in. It’s a salvo of questions, asking various characters about where they were when the rappers were facing adversity in their respective lives. As I’m listening, I have an awkward runin with a guidance counselor, then I quickly duck into the bathroom to take a selfie.
“Groupies”: On the third floor, I sit on the ground to take notes on my adventure thus far, jotting down details on the back of my schedule. There’s more light on the this floor than the second, but a tranche at the end of the hallway is completely dark.
“Lil One”: With Halloween-esque melodies and generic slasher film screams, “Lil One” likens street violence to a horror movie. Lines like “Shot up a nigga with the scope / Fuck that pussy shit, we sellin’ dope” depict an encumbering, irrevocable life of violence. In the horror genre, a living hell is worse than death. I think Robert Mckee once said that.
“Stick Talk”: I descend the stairs to the basement floor, and I scare myself by stepping on a creaky stair.
“Freak Hoe”: I go to the bathroom to take another selfie. When I’m done, there’s a shrill, C#-pitched alarm going off in the hall, which is coincidentally in the same key as “Freak Hoe.” There’s a bin of old PC monitors, a carriage of projectors, and TVs on wheeled carts up against the lockers. Some of the TVs have “Can’t Use” Post-it-ed onto their screens.
“Rotation”: On a whim, my phone disables me from streaming “Rotation” and the rest of the album. Closing and re-opening the music tab doesn’t work, nor does powering off and on my phone. For a handful of minutes, I keep trying to revive DS2 on “My Music,” with no results. So I decide to waste more data and stream the rest of the album on YouTube.
“Slave Master”: With each new track on the DS2 YouTube playlist, my phone forces me to press play—instead of letting YouTube do automatic transitions. The park adjacent to the “freshman building” (a separate edifice on campus, mainly for freshman classes) had gotten a new workout station, so I decide to check it out. I time it so that, as I’m stepping off the sidewalk, the beat to “Slave Master” kicks in full force.
“Blow A Bag”: I do three pull-ups on the highest pull-up bar. Then I balance myself atop a pair of parallel bars.
“Colossal”: The grand piano, a more traditional instrument than the drum machines and automated riffs, is prominent in “Colossal”’s scope. With its rapid melody, the piano line comes off sounding like a Chick Corea solo.
“Rich $ex”: The vocal hook is languid and vaporized, and I can’t help thinking if Future fucks with Macintosh Plus’s Floral Shoppe. While “Rich $ex” plays, I walk towards a secret pathway that leads toward the opposite side of the high school. I make it to the path just as “Rich $ex” quiets down.
“Blood On The Money”: The pathway is concrete, meandering past a graffiti-filled brick wall and over a brook. Most of the sunlight is blocked by the trees overhead. Because of its isolated location, you’d think the pathway makes a great place for rebellious activities like smoking weed, but I don’t really run into any of that here; I don’t really even run into anyone here, for that matter. Maybe yesteryear the walkway was a hip spot, but now everyone’s smoking weed in their attics.
“The Percocet & Stripper Joint”: I walk back towards the school, passing the baseball field. The field is used for other things, like miscellaneous gym class activities and frisbee club.
“Real Sisters”: In the intro, Future announces himself under one of his alternate monikers, Future Hendrix. Overall, “Real Sisters” is a return to DS2’s earlier relentlessness. A kid I don’t really like any more is walking out of the school. I avoid making eye contact.
“Kno The Meaning”: The epitome of Future’s confessional side. He recounts male family members’ occupations (carwasher, kingpin, and bank robber) and traveling to England at the time of Monster’s release, along with expressing the hardship he felt when producer/collaborator DJ Esco got incarcerated: “He had my hard drive on him when he caught the case / When they took him in custody they took my life away.” The intimacy of “Kno The Meaning” is visceral, but the juggernaut beat simultaneously renders the track an indisputable banger.
“Fuck Up Some Commas”: I make it down to the pair of turfed sports fields by the town’s ice skating rink. As Future declares, “I’m hot like a sauna,” I get hit with a cool breeze.
“Trap Niggas”: YouTube forgot to play “Trap Niggas,” so I heard it when I got home.
It turns out that I have a lunch period and study hall back-to-back, followed by gym class ending the school day. A few hours after I got home, my parents and I talked a little about possibly moving gym to before lunch, so I can just get out of school early. That’d be cool. It’d give me more time to listen to DS2 while on a Wi-Fi network.
Eli Zeger is in school right now. Follow him on Twitter.