Future’s unmistakable voice and “old man” drawl has rewritten the rules for contemporary urban club music, even in the wake of the post-T-Pain / “Death Of Autotune” landscape. Upon first listen to any one of his tracks, our usual response is something like, “This is awful!”, however, in the end, Future’s hypnotic vocals eventually draw us in, and the next thing we know, we’re dumbing out to “I Woke Up In A New Bugatti!!!” Guilty as charged.
A second-generation member of The Dungeon Family, the same collective that brought us names like Outkast, Goodie Mob, and Sleepy Brown, Future is a ATLien through-and-through, despite taking a more ignorant approach to his music than his forefathers. In his defense, he does have a way of engaging the listener with his crooning, however filtered and autotuned it may be.
From the onset, he kicks the album off with “Look Ahead”, produced by The Runners, a sort of inspirational opener that meshes his stuttered raps with sampled female indie rock vocals. The energy is kept high with tracks like “T-Shirt” and “Covered N Money”, which as base and dumbed down as they are, you can’t help but bounce to, even if it’s tuesday afternoon at the office.
That’s Future’s main talent, ensnaring you into his world, whether you are into his shit or not. This is most evident on “Move That Dope”, by far the album’s best cut. It shines not only because of the show-stealing verses from Pusha T and Pharrell, but also Future’s viral hook and a sticky beat that sounds like it was mined from the crates of Dr. Octagon.
Surprisingly, Future’s strongest moments are his “slow jams”, for lack of a better term. Much like Beyonce’s “Drunk In Love”, which he had a hand in, songs like “Honest”, “I Be U”, and even the Kanye assisted “I Won”, reel you right in. The weakest of these however is “Never Satisfied”, featuring Drake, mainly because it ends before it should, clocking in at 1:57. These two huge artists together on one track and nobody could stretch it out with an extra verse?
But Future’s a singer first and rapper second, and he is constantly outshined by his guests. When guys like Andre 3000 (“Benz Friendz”), Pusha T, or even Pharrell make their appearances, the difference in quality is night and day. That’s not to say that Future’s contributions are devalued; he is the glue that holds many of these tracks together, yet as a rapper it’s hard for him to hold is own next to the true-blue emcees.
Future’s Honest lives up to its title, especially on its closing cut, “Blood Sweat & Tears”, which gives us a fleeting look inside his soul, as he confesses how much of each of these substances he has poured into his music. And that deserves respect, whether you like him or not.
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