Future, Pluto, Hndrxx, Caesar Lee, and now the Wizrd– Atlanta rapper Nayvadius Wilburn has compiled quite the collection of sobriquets over his decade-long career. Most of them are self-dubbed, as Future has tried to find a persona that defines his energy and artistry. The Wizrd, however, is a nickname given to him by his uncle because he’s always able to “find a way to figure it out…That’s what the Wizrd do, go back to my crystal ball and come back with these different ideas.” After what Future described as a slow 2018 (apparently two mixtapes, a film soundtrack, and “slob on me knob” is a slow year), he’s come back from his crystal ball ready for something innovative. It’s a big promise from a trap rapper certainly not known for his versatility.
On opener “Never Stop“, Future is tender and emotional, sharing his “started from the bottom, now we’re here” story over woozy, psychedelic ASTROWORLD-like production. “I can’t forget where I came from / Bringin’ tears to my eyes,” Future reminisces as he concludes to “tell The Wizrd / A story like a book.” It’s a promising beginning, offering hope that Future is moving towards the type of vulnerability we heard on last year’s “Hate the Real Me“.
Unfortunately, it’s a false hope as Future spends much of the next 19 tracks covering the same ground he’s covered his entire career. Indeed, it would be an easier task to count the songs which don’t reference his cars, diamonds, drugs, and guns than to try to quantify the numerous flexes found here. I tried. I gave up. He also deals with women with the same entitlement (or worse), whether it’s his white and black girls he’s got looking “like an Oreo” or the bizarre flex, “I got so many white bitches / Ku Klux Klan.” The materialism, misogyny, and nihilism are on full display throughout The Wizrd. But what did we expect?
Some have faulted Future for not growing past these vices or at least wrestling with them openly in the way Kendrick Lamar is often able to do over and over again masterfully. It is folly, however, to expect this growth. Indeed, Future is exactly the rap star we deserve — we, who are unable to move past materialism ourselves and are just barely beginning to take on misogyny as a culture. He weaves these traits through catchy, repetitive hooks like single “Jumpin on a Jet”. He flows, gruff and Auto-Tuned, over perfect trap production from Tay Keith on “Temptation”, masking the fact that it’s mostly just about the “riches on riches on riches”. And on the glorious “Call the Coroner”, Future fully embraces the drug lord persona and proves he’s still in top form.
It’s not anything new and certainly didn’t require a crystal ball to predict. It’s the same formula he’s embraced since he debuted in 2010. This lack of change could be attributed to Future’s nihilistic tendencies, like when he declares, “I got so rich / Nothing matters to me.” On the other hand, maybe he cares a little bit more than he’s letting on, being fully aware that this is the formula we’ve asked for. Knowing exactly where he is situated in the rap game, Future has spent the last decade perfecting his wizardry and is now able to conjure the magic effortlessly. Though The Wizrd does run too long (as tends to be the norm nowadays), the bangers here are bangers and make this album exciting on every repeated listen. That being said, it is about time for Future to reveal the “man behind the curtain” and to move on from the excess materialism and misogyny. We just need to make that move with him.