Future Stays Honest on Sophomore Album

Photo above taken from FanPop.com

By now, you’re probably familiar with Future.  The Atlanta rapper/singer’s 2012 debut Pluto was an exciting—if limited—album that established him as an artist to watch.  Since then, he has appeared on hit (Ace Hood’s “Bugatti”) after hit (Lil’ Wayne’s “Love Me”), crafting earworm hooks that showcased his signature Autotune crooning.  With the release of his long-delayed sophomore effort Honest, Future combines the promise of his debut with the hit-making sensibilities of his recent guest features.  The result is a rarely serious but always polished effort that showcases the Freebandz rapper at his best.  

The album opens with “Look Ahead.” The innovative production builds the track around a tribal-esque, Santigold-sampling chorus.  “While they laugh and shake their head/ Still we coming in/ Now love you the way we go,” she wails in a dig to the haters, as Future reflects on his transition from cold, hungry nights to “steak, shrimp, caviar” and “boatloads full of cocaina.”  The hedonism continues on the rapid-fire “Covered n Money” and posse-cut “Move that Dope,” a song that finds Future, Pusha T, Pharrell, and Casino musing on their drug-dealing pasts over Mike WiLL Made It’s smooth production. 

While he never runs short on bravado, many of Honest’s best moments come when Future is being, well, honest.  Introspective tracks like “I Be U” and “I Won” showcase him at his most sensitive.  The former is a slow-burning love song, while the latter features Future singing about his “trophy” fiancé Ciara.  Kanye West delivers a powerhouse verse about his ever-popular relationship with tabloid fixture Kim Kardashian.  “I wanna dip that ass in gold/ I made it over NBA, NFL players/ So every time I score it’s like the Super Bowl,” he raps.   While old-school Future fans may lament the departure from his hood sensibilities, the album’s quieter moments actually manage to come across as its most sincere. 

Without a doubt, Honest’s most interesting track is “Benz Friends (Watchutola).”  Future’s fellow ATL-ien Andre 3000 makes an appearance, and the pair trade bars over the bouncy, Mr. DJ-produced beat.  While Mr. Benjamin is clearly the superior rapper, Future manages to make a surprisingly adept showing, holding his own against one of rap’s biggest superstars.  The oddball chemistry is fitting for the pair, both of whom have made their careers collaborating with left-field artists.   

While his lyrical prowess can leave a bit to be desired, the Georgia MC more than compensates by melding his unique sound and strong guest features into a celebratory and ultimately triumphant album.  Honest pushes the limits of what a hip-hop album can be in all the best ways.  It’s no surprise that artists like Ty Dolla $ign and Rich Homie Quan have risen in the wake of his popularity.  However, if anything, Honest proves that Future is in a lane all his own.

Grade: A-