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Thursday, June 08, 2023

Future’s ‘HNDRXX’ is an emotional, introspective reconnection

Within two weeks of his self-titled fifth studio album, FUTURE, the Atlanta rapper returns with HNDRXX, his sixth studio album with a lot of emotions to spill. To release two full-length albums merely weeks apart gives us a spilt metaphor of trap and R&B and the separation between the mind and body. Future becomes brutally honest throughout the codeine and confessions of the women, drugs, money and success. FUTURE gives us some highlight hits like “Rent Money,” “Draco,” “Mask Off,” “High Demand” and “Feds Did a Sweep,” but fails to live up to the hype.

A 17-track flow with expertly produced beats, HNDRXX features melodic and lyrically impressive Future with standout features from The Weeknd and Rihanna. It’s safe to say that the radio hits will be prevalent as Future gives the astronomical trapper room for truth. HNDRXX was first announced on Future’s Instagram as “The album I always wanted to make.” Perhaps Future wanted to complete his contractual commitment to A-1 but, either way, HNDRXX is arguably some of his best work.

HNDRXX is the control of the body; the loss of knowing where love has gone and what it has left you with or without. The album cover illustrates the soul of emotions without ego. This is demonstrated in FUTURE, as the album cover only features Future’s face while, here, Future leaves the trapstar for an artist with everything to give, including his humility.

Counting money in a studio like it hasn’t gone out of style, “My Collection” opens the album on a sincere note that parallels a petty love story. With a Metro-Boomin-produced beat, a drum-filled, old-school collection of selling dope at his grandmother’s house, trust in God and the need to have a women by his side, Future sets the mood of a summer night drive when all you need is that one person.

Smoother than Heelys in middle school, The Weeknd returns with a killer hook–“They take my kindness for weakness, still comin’ out strong.” A successful duo, Future takes on his own singing role and works around the false stories, the lawsuits and the haters. Easily a radio hit, “Comin Out Strong” combines a cocky mood and a sample loop with broken vocals–a perfect way to remind the haters, “Do you know who I am?”

The exotic wave is overrated. “Lookin Exotic” takes us back to the Future we’ve consistently heard. An obvious reminder of what he can provide, Future wants to spend his money on a girl and make her look “exotic.” His ego may be a problem but, with a heavy bass drop every verse, Future remains an extravagant trap rapper by adding another hit with no edge. The song doesn’t say anything that he hasn’t told us before.

Being there for someone means more than the physical. “Damage” is an infectious hit. Sampled by “Piece of My Love” by Guy, Young Thug provides background vocals and the underlined collaboration is one for the books. Future trades vocals and rapping while aggressively contrasting love, women and money. The emotional production and honest lyricism is what we’ve all experienced when we unknowingly give someone our entire self—“Getting money and I count it all, Stop trying to fuck my life up.” Future resonates with disappointment as he mistakenly sets trust above his own sanity—“My role model fucked my life up.”

“Use Me” is the body of the album. A headspace of different relationships and seemingly the jump before the bridge, Future is giving himself away and seemingly losing himself at the same time. The song loses structure but is that really a bad thing? Future encompasses the moment a relationship shifts; the moment you feel it’ll end if you don’t do everything in your power to save it. There is something empty and full about an emotional high that alters the heart and mind. “When you get high enough you can dodge raindrops,”–the kind of high that gives you butterflies or the kind of high that doesn’t seem real enough to feel. Future switches a doubtful realm of emotions into a successful ballad. As a battle of the used, Future accepts the reality that women have used him for his wealth and fame. A mindful mirror, Future also realizes that “she,” whoever “she” may be, has also been used by men like him.

It’s tax refund emotional. “Incredible” is a floating mix of harmonies and a gripping chorus. Almost good enough to remind us that global warming is actually very real, Future impresses with a warm and tropical dance hit. Sonically stellar and reassuring, Future finds trust in an honest woman as he states, “I know it’s true love with you / Told myself I don’t wanna fall in love with you.” A new “Bad and Boujee”? “Keep Quiet” is Future’s secret lifestyle with a taken girl. Future suggests she keeps it quiet before things turn chaotic for her—“Keep quiet, keep quiet, keep quiet / ‘Cause you gon’ start a riot.”

Part two and it’s just as good. It’s the moments we look at what love can do and the power it can hold years later. Whether it’s good or bad, the experience dramatically alters the way we give and take parts of another soul. “Broken lies / Driving backwards / Making all the wrong turns / Saying all the wrong words / Dodging angels”–—Here, “Selfish” is an attempt at bringing it all back together. A song that gives us room to forget the world and run back to the one person that meant everything at one point and, perhaps, still does today. Rihanna and Future find a bottle of emotions, illustrating what can happen when effort is merely the only thing you both want in return.

Karma comes full circle. “Sorry” is a deep piano key apology. As an emotional open letter, Future details the frightening parts of the music industry—“It can get scary when you’re legendary.” It’s oddly interesting when someone famous is openingly honest about their failed relationships. If you’re a familiar fan, you’ll have some assumptions on who he’s apologizing to–—“I breathe the air she breathes / It’s hard to breathe on my own.” In an expressive release, Future also addresses his loved ones and why he did some of the things he did.

HNDRXX is an all-summer album. Future succeeds in blending trap and R&B in a musically shifting industry focused on artistic development. Vocally changing, pushing a new line of production and singing, HNDRXX is easily a play through, no skips album. A refreshing twist to trap, Future and his team of producers craft an album that balances the future of rap and R&B. Future undoubtedly gives fans both Future, the Atlanta trapstar, and Future Hendrix, the astronomical rapper from Pluto. With no intent on slowing down, Future gives us some much-needed therapy on both ends of the mind and body.

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Grade: B+

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