Future: Honest

[5 May 2014]

By Brent Faulkner

“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. His rhymes aren’t the deepest ever, but he manages to deliver with a quirk that’s refreshing. Something of an acquired taste, finding middle ground with Future is often arduous. That said, on his second album of note, Honest, Future exhibits a surprising amount of promise, arguably more than Pluto did. Not a “tour de force,” but the bizarre MC does captivate at times. 

“Look Ahead”, the opener, has no shortage of aggressiveness on Future’s part. Kicking autotune to the curb, he embraces his more hardcore side. Future doing the unexpected definitely makes the skeptic give him a second look, giving Honest a dash of unpredictability. On “T-Shirt”, autotune returns, but feels right—at least in Future’s world. While lyrics reference the shallower aspects of life (money, clothes, and cars), the dark production work seems a perfect match to represent such materialism. “Move That Dope” thematically lacks substance, but given sick production and an addictive hook, it’s hard to write off.  Featuring an all-star cast with Pusha T, Pharrell, and Casino, the MC gets a superb assist here. 

While morality isn’t Future’s radar on “Move That Dope”, follow-up “My Momma” does find the MC does stating “My momma ain’t raised no ho…” Among the most intriguing lines appear on the first verse where Future has tough words for his father. Wiz Khalifa guests, expectedly references the reefer.  Title track “Honest” is respectable, if not a standout. The premise is simple—Future is “just honest” throughout. This honesty includes “…piss coming back dirty,” “crack all in my draws,” and “my diamonds ain’t got no flaws” among other things. Perhaps he’s too blunt, but “honesty is the best policy.” Single “I Won” does “win,” though it may take a couple of listens for fans to truly discover the magic beyond the autotune. The hook is more chivalrous than expected, though Future’s kills the vibe a bit with his horny first verse. Kanye West dedicates his guest verse to Kim, referencing his own “Bound 2” (Yeezus). While the approach is still subject to scrutiny, “I Won” works.

“Never Satisfied” packs a punch despite its brevity. Drake adds more swagger to the joint, driving home the theme of always wanting more than you have. “After you get money and all your dreams come true / It’s like everything that surrounding you get brand new,” raps Future. He goes on to say, “I can’t never forget the struggle and I pay dues / Can’t let the money and fame come between my crew.” “I Be U” is unorthodox—a Future love song of sorts. Associating “we overdoing the mollies, won’t let us finish” with passionate lovemaking isn’t romantic to many, but seems acceptable in Future’s world. “Covered N Money” receives a lift from Sonny Digital’s reliably dark and malicious sounding production, which Future slays with a manic performance. Future is incredibly irresponsible and a horrific influence, but in the same token, also truthfully articulates the influence of money and affluence (“Pay out these lawyers to throw away cases…”).

“Special”, featuring Young Scooter,” is a relaxed cut, though Future indulges a bit too long into the vibe. “Benz Friendz (Whatchutola)” easily atones, bringing veteran oddball André 3000 into the mix. Filled with trash talk, there is a redeeming value even given blunt lines such as “I told that bitch I don’t give a fuck about a Lambo…” Basically, these guys don’t want a gold digger. The standard edition closes solidly with “Blood, Sweat, Tears”, which features epic production, driven by big drums. Here the MC suggests he’s given his all. The deluxe version offers six extra tracks, including the sound yet controversial “Karate Chop (Remix)”, which features Lil Wayne’s infamous Emmett Till reference on his guest verse.

Ultimately, Honest ends up being a better album than personally envisioned. Sure, another banger like “Same Damn Time” would’ve been a nice addition, but “Move That Dope” seems to do the trick. Even though Future’s affection for autotune is still at times off-putting, it seems much more bearable and at times even artistic on Honest. If nothing else, Future stays true to himself and clearly shows where he stands. Even when he goes simple, there is an appeal, at least somewhere in there.

Published at: http://www.popmatters.com/pm/review/181208-future-honest/