A lack of executive guidance leads Future into a musical cul-de-sac.
Rap’s favourite alpha-male fell into the background in 2018. It feels like years ago when Future’s traditions were expertly explored on his 2017 self-titled album, and boldly followed up a week later with the avant-R&B Hndrxx; two back-to-back albums that presented the two best sides of Future. This momentum was not carried into the next year, which saw Future put out some of the worst projects of his career (a sentiment Future inadvertently confessed in a recent interview). The underwhelming collaborative mixtape with Young Thug was followed up by the equally-subpar Beast Mode 2 and WRLD on Drugs. It began to feel as if Future was surfing the wave without performing any tricks, while emerging crooners (Gunna, Lil Baby) hastily began to steal the spotlight. A refreshing approach was becoming necessary to prevent Future’s contemporaries surpassing him.
The Wizrd shows that at this stage in his decade-long career, Future is uninspired. His emerging contemporaries enhance the formula the Freebandz frontman introduced in the first place, leaving 60 minutes of trap drywall in his wake.
The album opens up with Future wearing his heart on his sleeve (“Never Stop”), a concept revisited only on the closer (“Tricks on Me”). Sandwiched in-between is a cluster of rattling freestyles, void of engaging hooks, standout beats or lyrical concepts with the exception of a few highlights. Singles “Jumpin on a Jet” and “Crushed Up” were hardly an exciting precursor to the album, though they did predict and epitomise the flat and stale identity of The Wizrd. Their one-line hooks are repeated in the most lethargic manner possible as one patiently waits for some sort of melody to kick in, a hope that never arrives (“Jumpin’ on and off the jet / Jumpin’ on and off the jet” / “Diamonds in the face crushed up, I can see it / Diamonds in the face crushed up, I can see it”).
Where The Wizrd fails is, to no surprise, in the production. Across the 20 tracks, it becomes clear how much the album lacks executive guidance. The man most famously known for such delegation is Metro Boomin, whose name is not in a single credit. Paired with Metro Boomin, Future created his best bodies of work (DS2, Monster, Purple Reign). Instead, Future opts for subpar beats from the likes of ATL Jacob and Wheezy, who lack any sonic signatures to create an identity for an album boldly titled The Wizrd. Production for songs such as “Crushed Up”, “Call the Coroner”, “Ain’t Coming Back” and “Rocket Ship” are lifeless, lacking the punch your above-average trap song should possess at the bare minimum.
Sonically, The Wizrd is a culmination of Future’s previous projects, circling themselves in a musical cul-de-sac. “Faceshot” is reminiscent of the muddy production of DS2 (“I Serve the Bass”), while the dim “Rocket Ship” is straight from the depths of the 56 Nights chamber (“Never Gon Lose”). Granted, the eerie storm of “Rocket Ship” provides one of the only quotables of The Wizrd (“I been poppin’ since my demo, bitch”), working as a decent interlude. Meanwhile, “Temptation” and “Promise U That” are unequivocal clones of one another.
Luckily there are a handful of highlights that spare The Wizrd from total monotony. “F&N” brings the biggest spark to the album, showcasing an in-form Future in his usual element. Its scampering production switches up in the latter stages, injecting a vital stimulant to rival the album’s sedatives. “Overdose” follows in similar suit with its urgent bells and concept of ‘overdosing’ on designer clothes, paired up with the comical ‘uh huh’ adlibs. The “Slave Master” sample on “Baptiize” is welcoming alongside its beat switch, another song that is traditional Future but maintains an engaging energy.
This streak is broken once “Unicorn Purp” arrives, a collaborative track with Young Thug and Gunna that could not be more generic if it tried. The three artists are unable to navigate towards a distinctive idea on a song that may be the most underwhelming collaboration of the year come December. The album’s other collaboration, “First Off” with Travis Scott, maintains moderate interest, particularly thanks to the refreshing input of Scott’s warbling vocals.
Taking the best 11 songs, The Wizrd would be a satisfying Future mixtape. Though with its bloated tracklist, vacant production and lifeless performances, The Wizrd continues to see Future slip down the podium of relevancy. Future is aware he sells fast food, but is selling the leftovers at this point.
Rating: 6 / 10
Favourite tracks: “F&N”, “Overdose”, “First Off”, “Baptiize”, “Rocket Ship”, “Krazy but True”, “Tricks on Me”