HNDRXX by Future
Genre: Pop Rap, Trap Rap
Favorite Tracks: “I Thank U,” “Selfish (featuring Rihanna)”
Coming just one week after his trap-embracing FUTURE, Future’s HNDRXX is both companion piece to and a refute of his most recent release. Where FUTURE catered to a specific audience with little listenability, HNDRXX shows the rapper trying to fashion himself after an R&B singer like Jeremih or Drake. Though there is certainly interest to be found in an artist that attempts such a transition, Future does so sloppily, and with little regard to the persona that he has crafted so well for himself in his career thus far.
Though change is certainly welcome in a discography that has almost exclusively featured songs about selling drugs set to propulsive trap beats, HNDRXX is such a vast departure from the rapper’s brand that it ultimately feels unwelcome.
HENDRXX unapologetically oozes R&B . Though Future’s murky singing voice is one of his greatest assets as a rapper, Future has never made it a staple of his sound, and has instead previously only used it as a way to add flavor to his hooks and verses in a way that has kept his tracks fresh and accessible, even if they’re not always relatable. In contrast, on HNDRXX, Future makes his voice the only prominent element, emulating modern R&B in the process. Though this is an admirable effort, at the end of the day, HNDRXX is simply a weak attempt to imitate Jeremih’s melodicism and danceability.
There are moments on HNDRXX that would be welcome on another artist’s album. “Selfish (featuring Rihanna)” would have made an excellent addition to ANTI, as it features the sexy, brooding sense of street-smart pop that makes Rihanna such a memorable singer. Another stellar moment occurs with the background guitar in “I Thank U,” reminiscent of the finest moments from the latter half of Frank Ocean’s CHANNEL ORANGE. However, these moments are not Future. They are another artist altogether, one that is not the same man that commercializes the lean epidemic or trapping.
HNDRXX does have its strengths. The production is stellar and glistens with a seductive smoothness few producers can evoke. Though there are only two features on the album, the choice of The Weeknd and Rihanna as the sole guests is aesthetically wise and feels like a nod of acknowledgement to the fact that Future is no longer trying to portray himself as the king of the streets that he was respected as in the rap game a year ago.
Releasing two blatantly weak albums within seven days of each other is a risky move, and there’s no way to overlook the fact that that’s exactly what Future did. It is understandable why any artist with a consistent aesthetic would want to change their image after years of essentially making the same album over and over again, but in the case of Future, this doesn’t prove to reap any rewards. With previous Future releases, you knew you were in for an hour or so of testosterone-fueled hip hop that didn’t make you think, but left you pumped up. In the past week, Future has released two albums that do great damage to his image and credibility as an artist.
Future’s albums are like a candy: not always good for you and never distinctive when put next to each other, but delicious and consistent all the same. But HNDRXX and its predecessor are so inconsistent that it does damage to Future’s brand. Listening to FUTURE was like opening a Coke can and finding out that there was day old Dr. Pepper inside it instead. Listening to HNDRXX was like grabbing another can, opening it, and then finding warm, day-old Squirt in it. Neither are welcome, but after Future’s first flop of the month, HNDRXX presents even more unwelcome change.
Though it would certainly stick to his current theme to release another album in the coming days, Future would benefit from staying silent as an artist for a while, letting his fans return to his finest works like DS2 and BEAST MODE and remember why he’s one of hip hop’s most justifiably recognizable faces.
Verdict: Do Not Recommend