Future's Bleary 'Dirty Sprite 2' | MUSIC RELEASE OF THE WEEK|

It's been a good year for retail mixtapes.

In his portrait of the culture surrounding Atlanta’s strip club scene, GQ’s Devin Friedman posited that the Atlanta rapper Future was the king of a coveted sound. Though Future has had several hits that scanned with the mainstream rap audience — “Move That Dope,” “Turn On the Lights,” “Same Damn Time” — he’s established one of the genre’s most passionate fanbases. (Hey, FutureHive).

Earlier this year, he cemented his status with 56 Nights, a collaboration with DJ Esco, a figure who could conceivably be considered the architect of Future’s sound. Almost an afterthought after tepid response to last year’s studio album Honest, Future’s latest re-establishes him as the hottest artist in the game.

Given the momentum from 56 Nights, expectations were high on Dirty Sprite 2, a retail mixtape that had the Hive churning with excitement. And, for the most part, the release lives up to the hype — tracks like “I Serve the Base” are easily among the hardest-hitting and best things that Future has ever done. Though it might not match the intensity of some parts of 56 Nights — “March Madness,” yow — Dirty Sprite 2 is absolutely the record that his fans wanted, a concept he outlines in the closing outro track.

In places, Future cracks open the bleak world of drugs and getting fucked up that he’s describing, portraying himself as a figure who sees his problems through a crystalline memory. Though Future’s lens is faded, for sure, he slides in small details — “I gave up on my conscience gotta live with it/ This remind me when I had nightmares” — that put you behind the shades of Future in a way that hasn’t always been present.

In this slow July, Dirty Sprite 2 will likely be the No. 1 record in the country once the figures are tallied up. But more valuable than that is Future has his listeners on fire.

“They tried to make a pop star, but they made a monster,” says Future. This monster has a long shadow.

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