Future, HNDRXX | Album Review
Future returns with a second surprise project, ‘HNDRXX.’ ‘HNDRXX’ features two guest artists: The Weeknd and Rihanna.
Future has quickly elevated himself as one of the hottest rappers in the game. In 2015, he achieved his breakout moment with his best album DS2. Since then, he’s dropped project after project, and collaborated with numerous artists. In 2017, he’s dropped two albums of yet – Future (February 17) and most recently, HNDRXX (February 24). Like Future, HNDRXX is chocked-full of future, running just shy of 70 minutes in length. Super Future indeed!
“My Collection” initiates HNDRXX moodily. Compared to the banger “Rent Money” from Future, “My Collection” is more cool, calm, and collected. This is a stark contrast. Even with lighter, cooler production backing him, not to mention mellower rhymes, Future remains shallow. The hook says it all:
“Any time I Got you, girl you my possession / Even if I hit you once, you part of my collection.”
“Comin Out Strong”
The Weeknd joins Future on the flex-fest “Comin Out Strong.” This is notable because Future lacked any collaborations – a lot of Future with little variety. From the jump, his secret weapon is unveiled, finding The Weeknd delivering a beautiful verse and chorus. For The Weeknd, this is like “Reminder” 2.0. On the chorus, he asserts himself:
“They take my kindness for weakness / Still comin’ out strong.”
Future saves the last two verses for himself, drenched in autotune. To his credit, he doesn’t employ his usual brand of mumble rap – he’s decipherable. Like his partner-in-crime, he flexes his muscles. The third verse is arguably the most interesting, particularly where he highlights his legal issues:
“You turned your back, I shouldn’t have ever gave you a chance / I got four lawyer fees, shit ain’t ever end…”
On “Lookin Exotic,” Future is all about the ladies. He loves fine, exotic-looking females and is willing to “peel you off a couple of bands.” During the course of “Exotic,” he also manages to brag about his money and status, which includes sex and drugs. In some regards, it’s refreshing that Future shifts the focus to the ladies, but he’s still cocky without question.
“I ain’t had sex in a whole week / Just so you can get to know me.” Oh, Future. Aside from his selflessly shallow lyric, “Damage” sounds like nothing else that’s graced a Future album lately. The record features urban contemporary cues, featuring vocals from Detail on the simple, yet catchy hook.
“Girl, I’ve been there for you / And you know that it’s true…”
While the production has some of the expected, southern rap cues, there is enough variance to make the song sound distinct, or somewhat distinct.
“Use Me” is one of the more experimental tracks the rapper has bestowed upon listeners. It opens mysteriously – quite spacey before establishing some rhythm and stability. Once he begins rapping on the verses, it’s more pop-rap as opposed to straight rhymes. What’s interesting about the track is how melodic it is. Future drops a killer line on the second verse that’s sure to resonate:
“I feel like Pink Floyd with the lean out.”
Once more on “Incredible,” the production contrasts his previous album, Future. There is more of an optimistic sound, clearly less invested in the trap. Future continues to “sing,” as he asserts what he plans to do for and with the bae. The results when he gets down with her? Incredible. As for the song – okay. Follow-up “Testify” is the less satisfying of the two, thanks to production work lacking notable separation between hook and chorus. The production work isn’t shabby in itself, but variety would’ve made the record more appealing.
“Fresh Air” keeps the vibes positive – maybe too positive. Nonetheless, the production work is spotless. The mumbling returns on the grinding “Neva Missa Lost,” which employs R&B vibes. Future provides more vocal clarity during the second verse, embracing more a rhythmic, pop-rap approach. While “Neva Missa Lost” is no classic, the rapper does a good job of conveying a sensual vibe.
It’s impossible to forget the title of “Keep Quiet” – Future only repeats it a million times. Not literally, but the hook centers around those two words – “keep quiet!” The M.O. is that Future doesn’t want the chick that he is sleeping with (but not necessarily dating) to tell about their non-relationship/relations. Complicated stuff for sure. “Keep Quiet” also gives the rapper a chance to flaunt his wrist – he’s got money and he’s spending it on his non-girlfriend, or something like that.
“Hallucinating” isn’t a masterpiece in vocal diction, but once more, the record benefits from its vibe. A translator – or at least the gifted annotators at Genius – is necessary at times. Expectedly, on the hook, Future makes a reference to drugs and hallucination. We’d expect no less. Positively, the production blends trap and soul successfully. “I Thank U” is short and sweet…well, at least it’s short. He thanks her “‘cause you made me hustle.” That’s about the size of it. Shout out to the soulful guitar.
“New Illuminati” benefits from, you guessed it, sound production work. As for the song itself, it’s sex on the track. Essentially, he delivers the predictable script: quick-paced rhymes, beaucoup autotune, and a heaping case of confidence. “Turn on Me” gives HNDRXX a lift, thanks to its oxymoronic production work. “Turn on Me” packs a punch, but at times the percussion is lighter, giving it an airy – wait for it – VIBE. No worries, as dope and sex remain front and center on the rapper’s radar. Don’t call “Turn on Me” poetic, but it’s one of the better moments on HNDRXX.
Speaking of elite moments, “Selfish” brings the second big-name guest to HNDRXX – Rihanna. Expectedly, Rihanna provides a lift, with her distinct vocal timbre perfectly suited for this hip-hop/pop/urban contemporary combination. “Selfish” is odd AF, but it’s also intriguing AF. Go figure. This is a potential hit for Future…potentially.
Penultimate joint “Solo” has a hypnotic quality – it sucks you in. Somewhat laid back, the charm is undeniable. Compared to the hard-hitting FUTURE, a track like “Solo” shows how potent the rapper can be without being incredible forceful. “Sorry” is apologetic – GASP! Future says it best himself: “Ain’t really mean to hurt you.” Calling this record deep is an overstatement, but there is some substance there. If nothing else, it’s a fitting closer.
Like FUTURE arriving a week ahead of it, HNDRXX is a big, lengthy album. Even so, arguably, HNDRXX is more well-rounded. It still possesses its fair share of flaws, but Future shows more versatility. He still needs to expand his concepts – there’s more to rhyme about than sex, drugs, and money – but there’s more variation. Likely, some will enjoy the gentler sentiments of this album, while others will prefer the edgier FUTURE.
Gems: “My Collection,” “Comin Out Strong,” “Damage,” “Use Me,” “Turn on Me,” “Selfish” & “Solo”