On his much-hyped and ultra-delayed sophomore album Honest, Future elaborates on his Auto-Tuned, slurry sounds while staying true to his Atlanta roots. It’s an album that showcases Future’s vision as an artist. But ultimately, he lets himself get too comfortable in lyrical clichés for this album to be any kind of masterpiece.
Honest begins a Santigold sample on “Look Ahead.” The intro is easily the best part of this song, but much of the credit for this is due to Santigold. The lyrics are predictable, focusing on the hardships of his past: “Was it cold nights that made me cold / Do the stress increase my hunger.” But Future revamps tried-and-true rap clichés of talking about former drug deals; he puts a unique spin on these themes, using his slurry staccato style to match perfectly The Runner’s hyped beats.
Many of the songs on the album focus entirely on Future’s money and spending habits. Great, Future, we get it. You have a lot of money. Now, please, talk about something else. “T-Shirt,” “My Momma” and “Covered N Money” will make many listeners want to pull their hair out with frustration. Future clearly has talent, but when he spends the majority of a track rapping about Bugattis, it’s hard to remember that talent even exists.
One of the strengths of Honest lies with its collaborations. “Move That Dope” features Pusha T, Pharrell Williams and Casino, all of whom lend their styles in different ways. Future has a unique voice, but it’s not something that can be tolerated over long periods of time. Pusha, or King Push as he refers to himself, has a slow, deep style that blends well with Future’s voice. Pharrell is a great addition to the track and adds some socially conscious rap lines: “All these drones while ya’ll smoke dro” and “All that war, we need to let that go.” These lines remind listeners that Pharrell is more than just a phenomenal producer. The verses on this track are strong, but it’s the hook that lets it down with its over-repetition of themes about dealing drugs.
The album’s title track and second single also focuses on money and fame, but it’s also insanely catchy. “Name another nigga hot, I’m just honest / Gold bottles on bottles, I’m just honest/ 100,000 on watches, I’m just honest,” Future raps. This has the strongest hook on the album, with a fantastic showcase of his falsetto. Honest is the kind of song to blast when your only goal for the night is to black out at the KK.
One of the stronger songs on Honest is “I Won,” featuring Kanye West. This is a rare song for Future and one of the only love songs for his fiance and baby mama, Ciara. The choice to feature Kanye, another rapper engaged to a beautiful woman, adds emotional credibility to the song. The song is based on the idea that they’ve won themselves the best trophy. It’s not Kanye’s best verse by any means, and Kanye fans have to hope that his upcoming album is not an entire devotion to Kim K.’s behind. “I Won” is super catchy and a different side of Future that he should explore more.
Honest showcases Future’s vision as a musician, with high production levels and a unique voice. But his lyrics and subject matter are oftentimes predictable. He talks about the same things mainstream rap artists have been talking about for years. If he continues to branch out from talking about the former drug life and money, Future could be a strong contender in the rap game.
3.5 out of 5 stars