Usually when I finish an album review, I’m content with not listening to that artist or project for a few days. Well here we are again as Future comes off the heels of his self-titled release to drop another one (I’m not sure why he didn’t used DJ Khaled’s catchphrase to promote this one). With Future I discussed why fans are toxic for artist development as half of the project sounded uninspired. Future then flipped us on our heads half-way through and gave us some introspective songs that sounded fantastic. Fans were satisfied and began picking their favorites, with ‘Mask Off’ taking the lead due to it being turned into a meme. Then in the middle of the week Future announces he has HNDRXX dropping, this one featuring The Weeknd and Rihanna. Many thought this one would be Future testing the waters for a different sound due to the features and fans were right.
This album isn’t directed at the die hard Future fan as the production and sound are more pop influenced. If you didn’t like Honest then you may not care much for HNDRXX either. With so many artists beginning to crowd his lane (remember the skit before ‘Draco’ last week?) this sounds like Future switching lanes without his turn signal as he’s driving 80 MPH. The album is full of synths, melody, and pop tunes that are aimed at the radio charts. “Selfish” is the defining example; it’s a mid-tempo record with Rihanna and Future sharing vocals on the chorus as he raps about two becoming one during love. This also becomes the main topic of the album as Future explores love, heartbreak, and reflection in a way that only he understands. These are emotions and ideas that are touched upon with the album intro ‘My Collection’. It seems Future still isn’t over his most famous girlfriend (Ciara) as he rap-sings his way across the soft trap and pop infused production. Future has said many disrespectful lyrics but he may have topped himself with the chorus, as he rhymes, “even if I hit you once, you part of my collection”.
Future caters to those who get excited for his love ballads on HNDRXX as songs like ‘Use Me’, ‘Neva Missa Lost’, and ‘New Illuminati’ have the codeine crooner showing off his vocal chops. He’s not the best singer but ‘Use Me’ is a song that you’ll be belting out at 1:39am after your fifth shot while you’re with friends. The first few records feel like Future is testing the water and seeing if it’s ok to swim. He dips his toes in with ‘My Collection’ and The Weeknd assisted ‘Comin’ Out Strong’, seeing that the water feels ok. He then steps out with the trap sounding ‘Lookin’ Exotic’ (which sounds awkward) before fully diving in with a cannonball on ‘Use Me’. From this point forward HNDRXX is like swimming in a pool filled with codeine, tears, and other bodily fluids.
The issue we run into with this album is the same as on Future: the tracklist is bloated and needs to be condensed. Future has given us 34 songs in the past two weeks and while there are a lot of quality songs, there are quite a few duds as well. Both albums cater to different fans of Future but it’s an obvious marketing attempt from him to make history on the charts. The good news is these albums show that Future has evolved, something that fans aren’t able to accept with their favorite artists. By giving us two records full of different sounds and material, Future shows why he’s one of the hottest names in hip-hop right now.
Repeatable: ‘Use Me’, ‘Fresh Air’, ‘Selfish’ feat. Rihanna, ‘Solo’
Skippable: ‘Lookin’ Exotic’, ‘Incredible’, ‘Testify’
By Joe Coad