Release Date: Apr 22, 2014
Record label: Epic
Genre(s): Rap, Pop/Rock, Southern Rap, Hardcore Rap
Two years after his acclaimed debut, Pluto, launched Atlanta emcee Future into the mainstream, the scratchy-voiced prince of Auto-Tune returns. Except this time with less overt vocal processing - partly because Future's voice has improved, and partly because it's started to imitate that computerized sound. His pipes sound simultaneously like a wounded animal and sneakers squeaking on a waxed floor, and yet his vocals are imbued with unquestionable humanity; you won't find anyone else as convincing serenading his sweetheart as he is pushing dope.
The more I pick apart a line like “Ever since I got with you I feel like I done won me a trophy,” the more unsavory it becomes. Playing “I Won” on repeat, I often end up wondering whether Future is referring to Ciara, his fiancée, or a Real Doll. But he sings with such yearning intensity that I allow myself to forget the extent to which his entire metaphor is fucked.
Much of the intrigue surrounding Future’s debut album Pluto fixated on the voice: raw and emotive, possessed of both a forlorn R&B Lothario’s despondency and the gruff yawp of a drug-runner celebrating a sold out batch, and shellacked in a thick, forbidding coat of Auto-Tune and reverb. Coupled with a penchant for interstellar iconography, the vocal modification frequently attracted science fiction descriptors, portraits of the artist as a moody machine. But Pluto’s most gripping cuts (“Turn on the Lights”, “You Deserve It”) took flight by scaling back the mods to focus on the unnerving frailty of a singer unafraid to skim around and across the break in his voice.
On his debut album, Pluto, Atlanta rapper Future drenched his voice in Auto-Tune, laid swaying hip-hop beats underneath, and offered midtempo party anthems with singalong choruses for some of the druggiest pop music since the '60s. This simple and still amazingly effective formula returns on his sophomore release, Honest, but the lurching beat and choir-led hook on the opening "Look Ahead" is the kind of stuff that kicks a Nas album off, and when Future ruminates about his place in this world with true aplomb, jaws should rightfully drop. More surprises come when scratchy records and breezy love lines flow out of the lush "I Won" with special guest Kanye West in "Bound 2" mode, while the inspired "Never Satisfied" comes at the "Mo' Money Mo' Problems" issue from the depression angle, as Drake joins Future in a room of gold and silver, and yet neither can figure out why they feel so empty.
It’s been a long, tumultuous journey to Honest, the album formerly known as Future Hendrix. When Nayvadius Cash announced the original title for his highly anticipated sophomore release in the summer of 2012, few would’ve expected a 22-month rollout, one that included an engagement with R&B songstress Ciara and a slew of successful features like Rocko’s “U.O.E.N.O.” and Ace Hood’s “Bugatti” — records his massive presence dominated. Within that same span of time, Honest executive producer Mike WiLL Made It became the hottest commodity in rap and was named SPIN’s 2013 Artist of the Year.
Future :: HonestA1/Free Bandz/Epic RecordsAuthor: Steve 'Flash' Juon"Honest" comes almost exactly two years after the release of Future's first major label album "Pluto." That album inspired a "Pluto 3D" edition later in the SAME YEAR with remixes and three brand new songs. That should give you some idea how quickly Future took his already popular A-T-L mixtape rap-singing mainstream, and how eager the music industry was to cash in on Future's crossover appeal. To be honest I was already growing disenchanted with how ubiquitous Future was when I reviewed his first commercial album.
“Got the girl dripping wet like a Jheri curl / got a Styrofoam cup and it’s full of syrup…” My, my, my—the things important to rappers these days, sex and lean among them. One of today’s more idiosyncratic MCs, Future, does expand his scope slightly beyond the aforementioned, but don’t call him a poet. I mean, this is the same dude who multitasks everything “at the same damn time.” Future lies somewhere between rap and contemporary R&B, thanks to his affection for autotune.
When Future released his debut album, Pluto, in 2012, rap music was picking up the remnants of T-Pain's auto-tuned legacy, celebrating the big city strip club scenes and still telling the tales of the dopeboy. Fast-forward two years and Future's sonic blueprint has been employed from coast to coast, making now the time for the ATL artist to reveal a new chapter in his life with Honest. Sampling Santigold's hook from Amadou and Mariam's "Dougou Badia," Honest opens with "Look Ahead," an unexpectedly guitar-driven single that channels Future's hunger.
Head here to submit your own review of this album. After a protracted build up, Future's follow up to debut album Pluto is finally here. Born Nayvadius D. Wilburn, the autotune loving artist got his big break in music from fellow Atlantan Gucci Mane and looks set to continue A-Town's tradition of delivering inventive hip-hop.
Since their emergence in the early ‘90s, the Dungeon Family has taken some strange turns. OutKast and Goodie Mob are respectively celebrating or inching toward the 20-year marker. Meanwhile, Killer Mike is holding down the DF’s second generation with arguably some of the most important Hip Hop made in recent years. Among the accolades and commercial success, it’s easy to forget Organized Noize co-founder Rico Wade’s cousin, Future.
Rappers who sing risk having the worst of both worlds. They can both lose the authority of their flow and invite negative comparisons to stars who can actually carry a tune. Such straddling has hampered many artists, from Kanye West (on the wobbly “808s and Heartbreak”) to Drake (in his more droning vocal forays) to T-Pain (in virtually everything he ever recorded).
In rap, nothing is proprietary. Be it a unique production choice or a novel flow or inflection, every stylistic innovation is piped directly into the genre’s public domain, where it’s swiftly copied, co-opted, and exhausted. Future understands this better than most. In a few short years, his signature delivery, a melancholy garble that imparts emotional gravity to even the most unassuming sentiments, has been claimed by countless successors, particularly in his native Atlanta, where seemingly half the city now raps in his unmistakable emotive croon.
Here are the first four singles that preceded Future’s Honest: the controversial synth-blasted ‘Karate Chop’, the twinkling ‘Honest’, the menacing fuck-the-club-up bow-thrower ‘Shit’ and ‘Real and True’, a piano ballad featuring Miley Cyrus and Mr. Hudson. While two of those ended up as bonus tracks and one ended up in the bin, one thing was clear: if there’s anyone that can mix — with equal efficacy — rap and R&B, bangers and ballads, the street and the bedroom, it’s Future.
The old rap star metrics of greatness? Future has no use for them. In his songs, he employs few true narratives, no real wordplay or punch lines. He raps mainly in free associative snippets, which, taken as pure text, can read as mundane. But what Future excels at — what makes him an undeniable star — is his gift for emphasis, and his ability and willingness to rewrite his vocal approach.
Future, Honest Future’s mercilessly AutoTuned voice is one of mainstream rap’s most omnipresent. The guy’s built a pop empire by cannily anticipating and then mining the fertile nexus of nearly every on-trend sound enjoying its fifteen minutes on urban radio. The question Future loves to pose is: Why listen to marquee names (think Rick Ross, Lil Wayne, the Weeknd, or Drake) when you can listen to another marquee name that sounds like all those artists, all at once, without scanning as excessively derivative? On Honest, his latest full-length, Future sells a fashionably high-gloss take on everything from bombastic braggadocio to moody R&B emoting, playing a broad field when a line like Drake’s “Always money on my mind” (from “Never Satisfied”) can ring as stone-cold tough one minute and self-pityingly harrowing the next.