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Future’s self-titled album FUTURE is an assertion of everything that hardcore fans of his have come to love: he flexes on his doubters consistently throughout; his flow is impeccable if not a bit intelligible; and the party music style is still there. The hype-inducing bass drops, a well-documented signature of his trap style, are as well timed and loud as ever. In fact, the best way to enjoy this album is not in the solace of your home, but in the comfort of your 50-100 closest friends as you bump elbows dabbing to the beat.
As for the rapper himself, I found myself surprisingly captivated. The album contains no features which is more than a bit intimidating considering FUTURE contains seventeen tracks. Nevertheless, Future shines. His versatility is on par with the great Floyd Mayweather: he picks his spots expertly. From outer-spacey sounds of “Draco” to the snare drums of “Super Trapper” to even the flutes and The Selma Album sample of “Mask Off”, Future always appears in his element. As a long time rap fan, it’s genuinely impressive watching him slay beat after beat. My attention hardly—if ever—wanes throughout the entire ordeal, a compliment usually reserved for rap’s elite. Perhaps Future now deserves a seat at the table. Even in a generic song like “Poppin’ Tags”, Future slathers it with a passion and hustle that left me in awe.
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That’s not to say the album didn’t have its low moments. “Massage In My Room” and “Flip” both left me underwhelmed. I almost skipped “Scrape” on my first listen and I don’t exactly love “I’m so Groovy” either. However, even at the worst points in Future, the beats are terrific and his flow is downright infectious. Whether you like him or not, his ear for music is top-notch.
All in all, FUTURE reads as the exclamation point of the rapper’s career. Album highlights like “Mask Off”, “Zoom”, “When I was Broke”, and “Feds Did a Sweep” merely drive this point home. Future’s highly successful, toured the world with Drake, this is his fourth #1 album, and he’s clearly here to stay. The only question now: Are you with him or against him?
If Future’s self-titled album was made for party, HNDRXX was made for inflection. From the get go, the emotion (both in beat choice and lyrics) is undeniable. As Future asks, “Do you want to come to paradise?” in the opening song “My Collection”, it’s as if he’s opening his heart and leading us to his musical Garden of Eden. Surprisingly, it’s nothing like what I thought it’d be.
Whereas braggadocios rhymes of sexual conquest and monetary success punctuate Future, HNDRXX stands as a love ballad of sorts. He’s vulnerable, open, and (at times) insecure. It’s unlike the artist I’ve ever heard of. Also, while Future contained only the Atlanta rapper, HNDRXX brings both the Weeknd (“Comin Out Strong”) and Rihanna (“Selfish”) for the ride. The result? Inevitable hits chock-full of quotes begging to be your next Instagram post’s captions.
Ironically, though HNDRXX aimed to be the more emotional and thought-provoking album, there are hits throughout. There isn’t a single weak song which is incredible with seventeen songs! Instead, we’re treated to a melodic feast with Future at the helm. “Damage” is a bit more singing but the beat is wonderful. “Use Me” is practically a love song but as Future croons “I feel like Pink Floyd with the lean out”, you get the sense we’re reaching territory we haven’t seen before.
By the time I reached “Hallucinating”, the 11th track on the album, I found myself completely enamored by his head-bopping hooks, his deceptively simple choruses, and rat-a-tat choppy flow. I won’t spoil “Selfish”, his duet with Rihanna, but two days ago, I’d laugh in your face if you told me Future could hold his own on a song with one of the greatest voices of our generation. Today…“Selfish” stands as a testament to the increasingly astounding range Future possesses. In fact, as every song finished, I became increasingly aware that Future is approaching the Drake realm in terms of being able to do both the singing/rapping components of a song well. I wouldn’t have pegged him as one who could sing in one instance and threaten your squad in the next but he does it phenomenally.
For someone I’ve constantly critiqued as “sounding the same”, this Future tape is unlike anything he’s ever made. Scratch that. It’s unlike anything I’ve ever heard. As “Sorry”, the seven minute and final track of the album, came to a close, sadness overcame me. Future let listeners in and told his story—one of missed love, regrets, drug use, and apologies. In short, he was honest and it was beautiful.
Somehow, Future managed to release two albums in the matter of two weeks. More impressively, both albums are brimming with bangers, quotes, and honesty. In FUTURE, he shows us his best days. In HNDRXX, he shows us his worst nights. Only time will tell if HNDRXX fares as well as its predecessor but it doesn’t really matter. FUTURE & HNDRXX stand as the Atlanta artist’s magnum opus—two sides of the same tortured coin. In two albums, I went from an occasional listener to a fan. I can only hope you do the same.