Review: Future shows a new side on Future Hndrxx Presents: The WIZRD

The Atlanta rapper has previously kept his hard trap and softer, more melodic songs separate, but his new album successfully combines the two

Rating: NNN

From Eminem’s Slim Shady to Tupac’s Makaveli, alter egos have been indispensable to hip-hop since long before Future hypnotized the world with his decadent, melodic hip-hop. But the Atlanta rapper, born Nayvadius DeMun Wilburn, still boasts more personas than almost any other mainstream rapper working today. His pantheon of characters includes: Caesar Lee, the charming lady’s man Super Future, the hardworking hit-maker Fire Marshall Future, the high-octane stadium performer Future Hendrix, the sensitive rock star who often divulges a more confessional, self-effacing side and The Wizard, the mysterious all-seeing, crystal-ball carrying magician that he introduces on this album.

Opening track Never Stop picks up exactly where his last album, Hndrxx, left off. Produced by Freebandz in-house beat maker ATL Jacob, the song is a mirror image of that album’s closing track, Sorry. Both display Future’s signature tension of wanting to be a better person versus wanting to throw a middle finger to the world. “I should’ve did better, but it’s chatter,” he raps here, before concluding: “Love is just a word, it don’t matter to me / I got so rich, nothing matters to me.” Layered over vibrating snare drums and luxurious, shimmering pipe organs, the song scratches at something buried deep in the messy business of being alive, making you want to pull up to the club and start crying at the same time. 

Future also seems acutely aware just how oversaturated the market has become for his brand of Auto-Tuned trap, which he helped pioneer a decade ago. Instead of trying to compete with his younger successors like Lil Baby and Playboi Carti, the LP’s best songs abandon catchy hooks in favour of dense, 16-bar verses spit with breathless urgency. He balances this with a series of relaxed, introspective R&B melodies, like on the album’s final tracks Ain’t Coming Back and Tricks On Me. Where Future has previously kept his hard trap and soft songs separate by releasing them on different projects (like the hard hitting Future vs. the softer, melodic Hndrxx both released in 2017), The WIZRD successfully combines the two.

Where the project falls short is in the handful of filler tracks that pollute the listening experience, including the repetitive Temptation, F&N and Overdose. Yet it still counts as a victory for Future, who has now introduced The WIZRD to the world. It will be interesting to see what he does next with that persona. 

Top track: Never Stop

@nowtoronto | @claudiamcneilly

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