Last Week’s Albums: Future & DJ Esco, Red Hot Chili Peppers & Riff Raff

Future & DJ Esco – Project E.T.

Since dropping mixtape Purple Reign and his unexpected fourth album, EVOL, man of the moment Future has been relatively quiet. That all changed over the weekend, as Future Hendrix teamed with regular collaborator DJ Esco for new mixtape Project E.T. (Ecco Terrestrial).

Created by Esco and hosted by Future, this is more or a less a Future project with the addition of a few Future-less tracks. As is custom with any Future release, the subject matter is largely concerned with drugs, sex and money. Sex and relationships are particularly prevalent throughout Project E.T., with Future rapping about his need for a roll in the hay on Right Now – a track sampling 2Pac’s No More Pain –  groupies on Super Dumb and relationship dramas on Deal With It. His tales of drug taking have always been a concern, with Future sounding like he’d fallen into addiction on his last few releases, but things appear to be on the up if this tape is anything to go by. Champagne Shower and Party Pack come across as more celebratory club tracks about his partying lifestyle than cries of help.

Project E.T. also contains a huge list of guest artists and producers and marks many firsts for Future. Rising star Lil Uzi Vert hooks up with Future for the first time on Too Much Sauce, with Future only contributing the hook and allowing Vert to flex his skill on the verses. 100it Racks finds Future and Drake teaming once again with the addition of 2 Chaniz (surprisingly the first official collaboration between the two) on a track focusing on the three’s wealthy lifestyles. Future and Young Thug put their troubles aside on the braggadocios Metro Boomin produced Who, Casey Veggies and Nef The Pharaoh showcase their flows over DJ Mustard’s Stupidly Crazy and Juicy J and Future trade bars on the sleazy My Blower.

Verdict: Another quality release from Future’s camp sure to keep fans satisfied.

Red Hot Chili Peppers – The Getaway

It’s fair to say Red Hot Chili Peppers haven’t been all that relevant since their last great album, 1999’s Californication. The three albums that followed – Californication version 2.0 By The Way, over indulgent Stadium Arcadium and forgettable I’m With You – stuck to the blueprint of the funk-rock hybrid that made the band huge with disappointing results. While commercially successful, all three lacked creativity and personality. When news broke of a new album from the alternative stalwarts, I for one wasn’t overly excited, but having had their 11th album on high rotation over the weekend, I’m pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed it.

The Getaway isn’t reinvening the musical wheel, but it’s the first time in over 15 years I can recall RHCP sounding passionate about the music they’re making. There’s no doubt that the introduction of Danger Mouse as producer  – ending the band’s 25 year association with Rick Rubin – has given them a new release of life. The emergence of guitarist Josh Klinghoffer from the shadow of former member John Frusciante has also shaped the band’s re-energised sound. Songs such as the funk infused We Turn Red, disco dancing Go Robot and melodic title track all contain elements of what make the RHCP great without sounding old or rehashed.

Detroit and Dark Necessities could be Californication/By The Way lost cuts, while the slower Encore and The Longest Wave are relaxing changes of pace on an album teaming with life. Anthony Kiedis has never been a great lyricist or singer, but with the constant presence of Flea‘s intoxicating bass, Chad Smith‘s rhythmic drumming and Klinghoffer’s integral guitar work, his Californian drawl and knack for catchy choruses is infectious and goes a long way to making The Getaway a welcome return to form.

Verdict: Chilis back to their best.

Riff Raff – Peach Panther 

Riff Raff has always been seen as somewhat of a joke in hip-hop circles. His comical appearance – colourful braided hair, pop culture tattoos and diamond studded grills – combined with his stop-start raps and lack of natural flow had many writing him off as a fad. When his debut album, NEON iCON, failed to live up to expectations, most thought he would disappear into the ether. How wrong were we.

2016 marks a huge year for both Raff’s rap career and status in the entertainment world. He’s been spending the past few years bulking up in hopes of achieving his dream of entering the WWE (his first wrestling appearance happened in March when he interfered in a match between legends Kurt Angle and Rey Mystery) and in April penned a $4 million partnership with Stampede Management and BMG. While all this has been going on the Texan’s also been putting the finishing touches on his sophomore album Peach Panther.

Released last week, Peach Panther is a massive step forward for Raff. The album highlights Raff’s growth as both a rapper and lyricist, and at just 12 tracks, is a concise collection of songs that gel well together. Raff’s diverse vocabulary is once again on display throughout the album, with the rapper name dropping his favourite brands and celebrities almost as much as The Game.

The first half of the Peach Panther features six solo cuts, with Raff celebrating Mexican culture on first single Carlos Slim, using basketballer Chris Paul as the basis for the snapping song of the same name and discussing his love of syrup on Syrup Sippin’ Assassin. The last six tracks of the album are all collaborations, with Raff acquiring some big names to flesh out the project. Riff cops a verse from Danny Brown and a hook from Gucci Mane on I Drive By, one of the albums better tracks, gets J-Doe and G-Eazy on the Metro Bommin produced Mercedez, while his collaboration with Lil Durk, Betcha’ Didn’t Know, is a great way to close the album that exceeds expectations.

Verdict: Well-rounded release that play to Riff Raff’s strengths.