Dispatches From The Mainstream: “Real and True”

I’m afraid that the currents of pop music are too vast and weird for me to comprehend, dear reader, because this has to be the most random three artists I have ever seen assembled together on one song.

Let’s start with Miley, since she’s pretty much naked in this video and I’m afraid that’s all people are going to take away from it. Less than six months ago, having Miley turn up in a song like this, dressed the way she is, would have been unthinkable. Die-hards (and people with too much time on their hands) would have known from the ominous tone and caged-bird imagery of “Can’t Be Tamed” that a new Miley was on the way, but it was a huge jump from the pole-dancing hullabaloo of “Party in the U.S.A.” (“You guys don’t think that Hannah Montana might be a sexual being, do you? No, me neither, that would drastically undermine my understanding of the world”) to “We Can’t Stop” and the madness of the accompanying VMAs performance, from which we as a nation are just beginning to recover.

Mr. Hudson is a long-time favorite of mine, but since most people know him as “that guy from Jay-Z’s worst song,” I’ll do a quick recap: Mr. Hudson made a lovely and intelligent indie-pop record in 2007, got discovered by Kanye West, who helped Hudson make his shiny-but-uneven follow-up Straight No Chaser, which left him in the awkward position of a guy who desperately tried to be a big-name pop star and failed. Since then, he’s languished in the background of Kanye’s G.O.O.D. Music label, formed the hyperactive BIGkids side-project with Rosie Bones and… now he’s singing about entropy on a song with Future.

Future is perpetually living 2008 by way Kanye West and Lil Wayne at the same time. He never steps away from Auto-Tune, even when he’s rapping, but he doesn’t just use it to express emotion—though he does plenty of that. His constant vocal modification is just part of the loveable and all-encompassing weirdness that brings to mind a time when Lil Wayne wasn’t a stand-in for everything wrong with Hip-Hop; he was actually the underdog. Future’s lyrical ability is nowhere near Wayne at his peak, but his melodic sensibility is the real draw, and even when he throws out a real clunker of a verse, there’s usually something endearing about it.

real and true 2

They’ve really got their best guys on this mission, huh?

Despite his open embrace of tenderness and vulnerability, “Real and True” is the furthest Future has ventured into pure ballad territory. The beat is sparse and piano centric, but the main instrument is Future’s voice, which runs through the background of the entire song. You wouldn’t think that a highly processed series of moans could lend a song this sort of melancholy feel, but there it is.

His delivery in the first verse—where he pays himself and his beau a series of compliments in a second person perspective—is close to rapping, but his next verse is straight-up singing. And if Future has trouble writing coherent rap verses, his songwriting game is all over the place.

Still, as fun as it is to watch Future goofily grin in the video as he says things of himself that no one has ever said or ever will say, there’s something genuinely affecting about the final verse. You’ll rarely find a rapper being this nakedly emotional or spouting a full-fledged endorsement of commitment. And even if the three lines that follow sound like they came from three separate songs, well, they’re still nice.

I could never be scared of commitment

I can prevail through life without bein’ malicious

I can’t hold you full responsible for your mischief

I hope you are never huntin’ me with vengeance

I mean, that’s a cool sentiment, right? That you can succeed in life without actively harming others. And I don’t really know whom he’s addressing in that last line, but hey, I get it. I hope no one ever hunts me with vengeance either, Future.

Oh, Miley Cyrus is on this song, right? I guess we should talk about that some more. But do you really need someone else’s opinion on Ms. Cyrus? I don’t want to delve into the cultural discussion surrounding her new identity, but I would like to say that Halloween was three weeks ago, so it might be time to take off the Rihanna costume.

Mr. Hudson sounds great belting out the chorus, and I hope this song catches on, because I’d love a new album from him. Until then, I GUESS I’ll settle for this intergalactic sci-fi epic where he teams up with Future to rescue lost astronaut Miley Cyrus who has turned into a glitter person with the power of teleportation. Beggars can’t be choosers.

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