This happens to me every time Future drops an album. Following my first listen, disappointment floods my heart. However, with the proper time to expose its layers, this trap icon’s music has meaning. Due to the genre’s incessant bragging it becomes difficult to distinguish who is authentic and who panders to trends. Future is certainly the former. Most of these lil rap niggas owe their whole careers to this man. Hndrxx functions as the Morgan Freeman of the trap game. There is no stopping him. Despite his lack of lyrical versatility, Future switches up his delivery well enough to consistently entertain. His words aren’t much on the surface. Yet taking into context what his artistry represents, his music gains traction with more listens. He and Chicago’s Chief Keef are the fathers of mumble rap. Successors copy their patents more and more as each year passes.
Since his 2014 trap masterpiece DS2, Future projects have let me down. Other than “Mask Off,” where are the solo hits? From 2011 to 2015 no rap star had more hits than Future Hndrxx. Unless you count Drake, that is. But we all know he went pop so I’m rolling with Future. Furthermore, DS2 still receives regular rotation from me. It is an exhibition of how to make a trap banger 15 different ways. Although there are a couple mixtape songs on the album, it acts as a cohesive compilation of what trap should sound like. What I enjoy most about The WIZRD also deals with cohesion. Producers ATL Jacob, Richie Souf, Tay Keith, Southside and Wheezy create a brooding atmosphere for Future to croon all over. And he frequently makes the most of their efforts. Here Future remains steady rather than up-to-date, furthering his status as trap’s most dependable artist.
Nevertheless, I understand why this might bore some listeners. While many hip-hoppers refurbish their sound or message to keep up with the times, Future stays true to form. This ensures he always has a place among the charts as long as he broadens his sonic palette. On The WIZRD, he does just that. Lead single “Jumpin on a Jet” might have grown on me the most. At first the redundant nature of the lyrics left a bad taste in my mouth. I couldn’t even finish the track. As time went on, though, I learned to love it as a bouncy club anthem. Tracks like “Temptation,” “Promise U That,” and “Krazy but True” are supreme trap ballads. Distinct instrumentals mirror the numb emotion behind Future’s vocals. I wasn’t feeling “Krazy but True” initially either. But opening with “Benz coupe look like a fish tank with a shark in it” was perfect.
Additionally, I loved the conclusion to “Promise U That.” He briefly samples himself at the very end following one last chorus and a telling closing line. “Never met no nigga talk to you when he f*ck you like that.” Cue the self sample. To me, this move is clear. Future smashes to his own music. I can promise you that. Now, even though I like a bulk of this album, typical Future tendencies keep The WIZRD from rising to the top of his discography. Once again Future overloads his tracklist with songs that serve the exact same purpose on the album. He starts and finishes in less than memorable fashion as well. Album closer “Tricks on Me” features production from OVO’s Nineteen85. Normally, I like his stuff. But here his colorful, smokey sound doesn’t quite mesh for me. The WIZRD is Future’s best project in years nonetheless.