Producer: Mike Will Made It, Marz
Label: A1, Free Bandz, Epic
In 2011, few people saw Future as more than "Tony Montana." But by the end of that year, hints that he was a considerably more talented artist had started to surface. He doesn't cut a star's stature; his personality isn't evident. His lyrics aren't particularly nuanced and he's had his fair share of clunkers, although they can be, at times, quite evocative. But he's a songwriter nonpareil, with a true gift for hooks and melodies, a craft-conscious studio rat.
Mike Will, who consistently brought out the best in Future this year, helped construct its watery emotive soundbed with attention to detail. But it was Future who, with one single, made the notoriously pimp-friendly hip-hop audience into a nation of committed Significant Others. "Turn on the Lights" managed this feat because it was a truly transcendent single, a moment of heartfelt, cosmic joy that captured the wide-eyed sincerity of the lovestruck in under four minutes. -DD