Atlanta rapper Future needs little introduction. The trap-rap powerhouse has been one of the leading faces of the current rap generation for much of this decade and a highly influential figure on both the commercial and artistic fronts of mainstream hip-hop for many years now.
Known for his signature auto-tune croon style of rapping, Future’s prolific yet repetitive catalog places him in a unique category of contemporary rappers who have exerted massive amounts of creative influence on their peers to the point where there are several hundreds of copycats, indistinguishable in their sound from the originator. Future is also in the even more selective class of insanely influential artists who have bred an entire movement of music that is substantially low in quality and in many cases, significantly worse than the artifact responsible for the creation of the trend.
Much like he and Young Thug ran with Lil Wayne’s excessive use of auto-tune sing-rapping, over the past five or six years, there has been an infinite amount of hip-hop artists attempting to replicate Future’s moody, menacing and slurred style of trap music. In terms of pure imitation, he may indeed be the most copied man in hip-hop. And while, yes, as a result of this, there has been a large quantity of boring, below average music in this style, it’s hard to argue against the fact that Future is an emblem for the modern sound of hip-hop at a time when the genre is more culturally dominant than ever.
All relevance aside, Future is never one to slouch on releasing new music. After a modest two-year break (not counting mixtapes, collaborations, etc.) from official studio album releases, the self-proclaimed Future Hendrix returns with another expansive collection of trap songs set to his usual psychedelic and drug-addled backdrops. Officially titled FUTURE HENDRXX PRESENTS: THE WIZRD, the album runs at just over an hour in length, with Future dwelling on familiar tropes of intoxication, loneliness, fame and excess.
Wizrd is by no means Future’s hardest-hitting project, but at this point in his career, he is easily capable of laying down a banger on any given track. The trunk-knocking songs on Wizrd, however, opt for rhythm and melody more than they do shaking subs. “Jumpin on a Jet” is sneakily catchy, featuring a sticky refrain of the song title repeatedly muddled under spacey synths. At first pass, the Travis Scott-assisted “First Off” is a pretty run-of-the-mill cut from two of trap’s biggest personalities, but after several listens, the song bounces at a steady level with Scott’s appearance as the highlight.
Some of the best moments on Wizrd come by way of combination: slightly off-kilter beat choices and looser, more abstract performances by Future. “Goin Dummi” sees the MC humming over a winding, hyphy instrumental; the hook is among the most memorable on the record. “Faceshot” is similarly weird, albeit significantly more aggressive. The beat is distorted and bass-heavy, allowing Future to ride ahead full throttle with a stream of half-ass punchlines and adlibs. While there may not be a “Mask Off” type single on Wizrd in terms of commercial viability, there is a noticeable increase in the attention to detail on the record compared to Future’s last full length releases in 2017.
Though there are a few highlights, the main issues with Wizrd are the same that exist with most Future albums. The project has a decent vibe, but save a handful of tracks, the production is anything but innovative or original. It’s more psychedelic and atmospheric than your average trap release (see “Ain’t Coming Back”), but falls well short of the high marks seen on last year’s Die Lit and Astroworld. On the vocal side, Future continues to show that he has a solid feel for melody but little in the way of rapping skill or sophisticated artistic appeal. He remains very self-aware and occasionally introspective, constantly addressing the demons he faces and the adversity he endures as a high profile celebrity with intense hedonistic tendencies. At the end of the day though, this basic testament can be applied to all of his albums without much sway.