Future Goes Back to Basics with “The WIZRD”
Future’s career has been filled with peaks and valleys. The highs of “DS2,” “What a Time to Be Alive” and “Pluto” complement the lows of “Super Slimey” and “WRLD on Drugs.” Along the way, he has inspired a legion of young rappers who draw heavily on his style such as Young Thug, Juice WRLD, Lil Yachty and more. Perhaps in an attempt to mentor this next generation or to capitalize on their rising star power, Future recently released collaborative albums with some of them, most notably “Super Slimey” (with Young Thug in 2017 ) and WRLD on Drugs (with Juice WRLD in 2018 ). Both records underwhelmed fans of all three artists. The biggest issue with the aforementioned projects wasn’t necessarily the chemistry between the duos, but rather Future’s puzzling decision to deviate from the style that made him famous — a drug-infused, Auto-Tune-laden drawl set over bass-heavy production. He instead chose to experiment with testing his vocal range — a terrible decision, since he has none — which resulted in him screeching and voice-cracking all over a variety of tracks. The fact that a studio executive or producer even let him release that cacophony of sounds under the guise of musical creativity is a testament to his previous success. Fortunately, on “The WIZRD,” Future returns to form and leaves his experimentation behind.
What Future does best, in the words of Pitchfork magazine’s Jayson Greene, is that “he knows how to stick phrases directly into your brain grooves: ‘Diamonds in the face, crushed up: I can see it.’ No one in rap makes you see it quite like Future does.” On the album’s darkest song “First Off,” which features Travis Scott, he brags: “Steppin’ over dead bodies in Margielas / I touched a hundred M’s and I’ve been getting’ better / In a red Bugatti, gave it right to valet.” Travis later comes in with a standard, empty verse: “You know I’m James Bond with it, Harden with the finish.”
“Unicorn Purp,” featuring Young Thug and Gunna, is more entertaining than the rest of his recent collaborations. Over a hard-hitting beat, Future raps a catchy chorus: “I can’t address all the issues I’m dealin’ with, I’m goin’ bonkers / You not meetin’ up to my criteria, I’m not responsive.” The song sounds like it’s straight off of “Super Slimey” but because the rest of the album is darker and slower-paced, it works well. Future exudes an energy that we haven’t seen in a few years — a refreshing departure from the mopey bachelor of “Hndrxx” or the insecure crooner of “WRLD on Drugs.”
Unfortunately, Future’s old habits tend to dull his music. “Jumpin on a Jet” is a classic Future song, replete with lines detailing his supposedly enormous wealth and cache of women. The song begins with him repeating the same line eight times. The repetition drags on and detracts from his work. In the first verse, he states “Might get you a car-ar-ar-ar / I was standing on the bar-ar-ar-ar.” This amount of repetition is pointless and causes the listener to zone out. In his upcoming projects, Future should strive to incorporate more meaningful verses and leave out many of his throwaway lines.
What does Future’s music do for listeners in 2019? Besides giving his diehard fans something new on which to chew, not much. He no longer challenges rap’s status quo or has the juice to play off of a massive star (eg. “What a Time to Be Alive”). Future’s music is back to being a known commodity, and although he has left his best days in the past, “The WIZRD” packs a bit of nostalgia to bring his listeners back to his golden days.