Some two years ago, I wrote that Future fell in line with a more Andy Kaufman approach to autotune. That he was not as finessed as T-Pain’s drawings of excess that dripped into lovelorn moments or Kanye West’s sheer emotive imbalance but that he was quite certainly misunderstood. For a moment, it felt like all I heard was Future, that a key unlocked and let me into a world where the Atlanta rapper had figured out that his way of autotune, more raw and unhinged than his predecessors worked. It’s how the metronome like “Magic” & “Same Damn Time,” shout rap records turned radio smashes came to fruition, how something as hypnotic as “Turn OnThe Lights”, one of the few love songs on radio in the past year felt warm and embraceable. Suddenly we weren’t laughing at Future, we were nodding our heads with him.
In the two year stretch between his debut album Pluto and now, Future’s pen has become just as if not stronger than the voice that rattles, shakes and plunges into various depths of bombast and solitude. Nothing feels madlibbed and over time, Future’s discourse for love which made Pluto rather enjoyable in its latter stages began to dissipate. In its place stood even harder jerks and splashes. “Bugatti” made Ace Hood & Rick Ross afterthoughts and “U.O.E.N.O” resurrected Rocko before he submarined most of its momentum (Ross did the rest with that unforgivable rape lyric). There aren’t any presumptions heading into Honest, Future’s attempt at becoming even more of a fully realized star. The sound is bolder, his instrument never more powerful.
From the onset, Honest is appraised as Future’s dope man vocals twisted into patois for 18-tracks. Chest beating tracks such as “My Momma” & “Covered N Money” take Mike WiLL Made It and Sonny Digital’s flanged out drums and reverb and contort them into fast paced ego bruisers. The shout rap has been perfected, highlighted by the street single “SH!T” where Future’s braying and yelling is more directive. On the opposite spectrum, the voice echoes new falsettos and warbles, specifically onthe album’s title track where he laments in a rather impassive fashion about his own greatness. The near falsetto coupled with only makes us realize even more that Future doesn’t need a bevy of guests and Dungeon Family cred as he did on Pluto to seem legitimized – he has his own bearings.
Even though he professes that the love is absent on Honest, there’s still some usage of love as a prop here to wield around. “I Won” with Kanye West cascades on with superlatives aimed directly at fiancée Ciara with West doing the same for his beau Kim Kardashian. That episode will never cease but Future doesn’t even acknowledge the backend theatrics. He loves and then he doesn’t, sneering and dismissing an ex on “Special” while jumping for joy about finding the woman he yearned for two years ago with a flashlight on “I Be U”. He may seem like a miser of love in this sense but that’s far from the truth. Some may argue that he even gets lapped by fellow Dungeon Family compatriot André 3000 on the FutureKast union “Benz Friendz (Whatchutola)” but its his infectious energy that gives way to André’s nowhere near soft verse.
“Benz Friendz” isn’t as much about the hate of a Lambo of a Benz as it is the love of Toyota 4-Runners but the quirky moments from Honest all hit. There’s the industrial-esque coldness found from Mike WiLL Made It on “Move That Dope” and spaced out snares and keys from Nard & B on “T-Shirt” and through it all, there’s Future, able to tell Drake to take a backseat on the meta “Never Satisfied” (can you be satisfied with a 1:56 Drake/Future collaboration?) and inspirational on the album’s closer “Blood, Sweat & Tears”. For all of the loosies and free wheeling mixtapes that followed Pluto, Future took all of Atlanta’s emerging weirdoes such as Rich Homie Quan and Young Thug and showed them the polished maturation of the first weirdo post-OutKast/Goodie Mob dominance. We’re stuck with Future now and it’s a necessary addition to life.