Future has released six studio albums since he began his musical career back in 2012. (Courtesy of A1 Recordings)
Benjamin St. Pierre
Nayvadius Wilburn, better known as Future, is an Atlanta, Ga. rapper, trap star, auto-tune crooner and polarizing figure – not only in modern rap, but also, in modern music. Some people love him; some others say he is only as good as his beats. Some people say he cannot rap at all, while others say there is more to rapping well than rapping quickly or technically.
Future released two albums in the short time frame of two weeks; on Feb. 17 he released “FUTURE” and on Feb. 24 he released “HNDRXX.” Many may have made the assumption that there would be Future flames to bump in the spring and summertime, especially since there are two albums worth of music.
But, the unexpected happened: both albums are full of fill-in songs and especially in the case of “HNDRXX.”
“FUTURE” carries a typical Future sound. It is formulaic trap and some of the beats are pretty good, but here is the main problem – it is essentially 17 tracks and over an hour of the same song. Of course, the beats change up a bit, but there is simply not enough variation between each song to warrant an hour of music. Even cutting it down to 12 or 13 tracks would still make the entire thing sound the same; there is no experimentation. And even the production and mixing sounds rushed or cheap in some spots.
And “HNDRXX” is another 17 tracks, and an R&B album – an album that Future likely wanted to be the go-to spring and summer album, except, well, it is not good. It is very bad. The beats are bad. The singing and vocal deliveries are bad. The lyrics are forgettable, or just bad. It is an experiment gone horribly awry.
Nobody listens to a Future song expecting hard-hitting lyrics, but in an album that is clearly an experiment, if he is trying to do something different sonically, then he has to follow suit lyrically too. Over sparser beats, it would make sense to write better lyrics – if more of the spotlight is on your vocals, it would make sense to make your lyrics and vocals worthy of the spotlight. But Future falls flat.
I do not mind that he is trying to go in a different direction for at least one project (“HNDRXX”), but this direction is clearly not one that suits his strengths. Future’s rapping voice is addictive and deep – it complements gritty beats and gritty lyrics. He is at his best when he is riding the beat and his voice acts as another instrument; not when the beat is sparse and his bad lyrics take center-stage.
Although he finally left his comfort zone on “HNDRXX,” especially after “FUTURE” (and their sequence was undoubtedly planned out, as he probably wanted to release his “normal” album followed by an “experimental” one), his comfort zone is exactly what makes him such a successful artist. Making boring R&B-rip-offs is not boundary-pushing; it is boring. It is not good.
When Future is at his best, his flow is smooth and his beats are hard-hitting bangers. At his best, his music speaks for itself; the trap comes alive through the darkness that pervades, even if a lot of his songs masquerade as party anthems as well. That Future is entertaining one.
Future came from a dark place, and his rise to dominance in the Atlanta trap and rap scene is proof of his hard work. If he feels like he has reached his peak and has done all he can do within the norms of trap, then maybe that is why “HNDRXX” is as it is. But it is not good, and neither is “FUTURE.”
Final Grade: D