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Future “Honest” –Album Review

Epic (2014)

What could have inspired Future’s latest album’s name? At first I thought it was his pregnant fiancé to be, Ciara, and the promise of soon-to-be born Little Future. That might have played into it, but really Future’s Honest (which drops April 22) is more about declaring the truth of his now grandiose success (and the “Blood, Sweat, Tears” that got him there.  Released by Epic, A1 and his own imprint, Freebandz, it features a slew of heavies, including Kanye West, Drake, Pharrell, Pusha T, Wiz Khalifa, and fellow Atlantan Andre 3000.

Future (whose real name is Nayvadius D. Wilburn), is rap’s current hook king who specializes in auto-tune, barely understood mumble-rap, southern slanging, and emoting bars with the intensity of someone who’s feeling them in the moment right now.  Lyrically, he’s no Nas or Andre 3000.  Don’t expect complicated rhyme schemes and lyrical loop-de-loops.  But when he’s not boasting about selling drugs, banging broads, banking benjamins and being a general bad ass, there is actually an air of sincerity about him. You see, Future doesn’t rap so much as he just yells or chest beats. His delivery lacks inflection, but what he does have is a certain rags-to-riches relate-ability and earnestness.  And an excellent ear for club music. This album is something that should be played in a club – like one down in the dirty south somewhere where everyone shows up in white T’s and gold teeth.

The highlights on Honest are not always the lyrics, but rather the production. Unique background sounds, multiple shout outs, guest raps, calls and responses, digital tech underbelly, and sonic instruments kicking around the track—this is where Future’s creativity shines.  You can hear it on tracks like opener “Look Ahead” and on “Move That Dope,” one of those repetitious club tracks that’s your typical being-a-dope-drug-dealer brag  (although one could see Ciara getting crunk to it.

That said, there are revealing moments, too—like when Future raps on “Look Ahead,” “Ain’t another better feeling like the feeling when a n***a make it out the slums,” or his reflective foray into something more spiritual on “I Be U,” or the urgency resonating in his voice on the anthemic “Blood, Sweat, Tears.” The track “I Won” is truly romantic; it’s refreshing to hear Future and Kanye brag about their supafly loves (Ciara and Kim Kardashian, respectively).  Best line from Future: “That ass getting fatter because of me / I know it’s because of me, got you in custody”.  (*Yep, an ode to Ciara being pregnant with Future’s first son.) Best line from Kanye: “I want to dip that ass in gold / I made it over NBA, NFL players / So every time I score it’s like the Super Bowl.”

Future declares he’s being honest on the title track.  You’d think this would be a soul pouring track, but it’s more brag swag song about how Future’s honestly just balling and got bad b***es (who kiss on each other).  An “honest” line that resonates is “my piss coming back dirty / I’m just being honest.” One wonders if he regrets slanging dope in his past.

Rather than being confessional, Future’s Honest really just sounds like a man who is grateful he made it to the top of the charts from a life of selling dope at the bottom – all through hard work.  You can feel his heart on this album.  Grimy, braggy, urgent and at times sweet, Honest, is honestly just Future telling his success like it is.

 

3 / 5 stars     

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About the Author

on MUSIC IS MY OXYGEN WEEKLY.

Mic check 1,2,1,2. Not the words you expect to bust out of Orange County, California, but that's where Deborah Jane found her funk. Daughter of Guyanese immigrants, Deborah grew up in an all-white suburb where she was one of the only black kids in her school. (Fun fact: She didn't make her first black friend until attending Stanford University). Hip-hop gave her a voice and helped her discover her roots. Now she is an emcee and writer who both spits raps and writes editorials, TV shows and films - especially hip-hop musicals!

At Stanford, she wrote and produced an award-winning hip-hop musical, Strange Fruit: The Hip-Hopera (www.strangefruithiphopera.com) - now in development as a feature film. Deborah also launched her hip-hip theatre webseries, The HOTT (www.youtube.com/TheHOTTtv), published in Urban Cusp Magazine. Currently, she is penning her first hip-hop album, Do You Love Me Deborah Jane? And do you? She truly hopes you all love her.

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Posted in: Album Reviews, Featured, Hip Hop Music


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