In recent hip hop culture trends, there is a rise among artists who are choosing to be a little more transparent about their journey from the struggle to the hustle; most recently and notably, artists such as Big Sean with his Bounce Back record and Future with his Mask Off record. The raw honesty behind it is quite refreshing, especially in this day and age wherein people “appear” to be overnight successes. In a time where people only share their happiest moments on social media timelines, this can quickly create a strong sense of disillusionment and confusion for the average person; creating feelings of missing out on the magic formula for getting it right for their version of success.
What Future did with Mask Off is difficult not to love, from the familiar flute in the background, the messaging, the catchy hook, and the sampling of Tommy Butler’s “Prison Song” underlying the chorus. He took what was supposed to be and very well is a club banger & chart topper, and turned it into a moment of vulnerability and transparency that people of all walks of life can truly relate to.
If we are 100% honest we are all living with some type of mask on. Society has forced us to believe that hiding our true identity is healthy and normal. Somehow, there is a growing misconception that showing up as your authentic self is not beautiful or welcomed; that the only way to show up is without imperfections or blemishes with a cookie cutter storyline. However, I love that Future found an incredible way to deconstruct this mindset as indicated by the lyric “from food stamps to a whole nother domain”.
Too often we deny the very stories and journey that create and help us hone the very purpose we were created for; what could be the spiritual manifestation and keys to not only our own success, but also someone’s else success and freedom to walk in their calling. Transparency and vulnerability are undervalued characteristics that are an essential part of the human experience, no matter what type of mask we may be wearing or what activities we may find ourselves participating in.
Professor Future was onto something when he repeated “Mask Off” all throughout the chorus of the song. He was empowering the listener of the song to talk about their hardships, struggles, and their journey; the days they weren’t sure they would make it; how those days brought them to the moment where they could say “ain’t compromising, half a million on coupe”; to be courageous about those hard moments, knowing they were only chapters in a very bright and beautiful book; when they wanted to give up; how several failed business attempts later they found their entrepreneur stride and grew courageous enough to speak to others and motivate them; to live life by coming out from behind the mask and walking in their truth.
So yes, while Future is speaking to a rise from the trap world to the rap world, we can all take several notes from him. Learn to live life without masks. Show up in the world as our most authentic and amazing selves. Continue to chase checks. Instead of robbing banks, rob whatever game life throws in our direction. Be confident and prepared for the ultimate wins that only a life with masks off can yield with heart, hands, and spirit open.