Review Summary: A complete waste of space that fails on nearly every level.
If one needed to describe Atlanta rapper/singer Future in one word, it would be polarizing. Even on this very website, it seems that the general consensus is that you either love him or you hate him. If you turn your attention to the score of this album, you will probably find it easy to guess which camp I fall into.
I will admit that I did not have high hopes for this album. His debut effort “Pluto” was rather underwhelming and he grew to be omnipresent on rap songs to the point where it seemed like he was on everybody’s hook to the point where I was annoyed simply because of the overexposure. However, I was willing to give this a chance. After all, I did not have high expectations for Freddie Gibbs or YG’s albums this year and I ended up being really surprised by both of them. To Future’s credit, I was certainly surprised by this album.
I was expecting it to be decent, if a little forgettable. I did not expect it to be one of the worst of the year so far.
Let’s start with what works first. The production is pretty tight. There is nary a track that has a beat that is chintzy, lame, or unpleasant to listen to. In some cases, the production is also incredibly awesome. The beat for “Look Ahead” is one of the best I have heard this year and the beat for “Move That Dope” is very slick. Both are good enough to make each track a certified banger. Several of the features are also pretty strong. Pusha T and Pharrell deliver fantastic verses on “Move That Dope”, Drake shows once again why he should stick to singing on “Never Satisfied”, and Andre 3000 pretty much hijacks “Benz Friendz (Whatchutola)” and delivers enough to make it the best song on the album.
That is not to say that all features are good. Wiz Khalifa continues to be Wiz Khalifa and adds another mediocre “Money, guns, bitches” verse to his repertoire. Kanye West delivers one of the most phoned in verses in his career on “I Won” that only showcases his steady downward slide as a lyricist. Casino delivers a verse a flow so awkward and corny that it’s laughable and Young Scooter has such a little presence on “Special” that him having a featuring credit at all is kind of baffling.
Even taking the good features into account, those and the great production cannot save the album. Production and features are sides to the main course. If you have phenomenal wild rice and the finest pinot noir, it does not change the fact that you’ve been served a burnt tire.
I’m not going to sugarcoat it; Future is awful on this album.
Let’s start with the biggest problem, his singing.
Future cannot sing at all. Unlike, people who use autotune to create a certain effect on their vocals, Future uses it to hide the fact that he is virtually tone deaf. Half the time, whether it be on a hook or a verse, Future does not even seem to sing but rather shout like a maniac and hope that the autotuner can correct it into some form of singing. The chorus on My Momma has him shouting out “My momma ain’t raised no ho” over and over as the autotune flits and flutters about, unsure as to what pitch it actually wants to find. This is not an isolated incident. Most of the time, the autotune warbles about and creates a very gross, unappealing sound that makes his attempts at singing (which is often) absolutely embarrassing.
This is a huge problem mainly because there are several songs designed to “highlight” Future’s “voice.” The disgusting sound of the autotuner makes songs like “I Be U”, “Blood, Sweat, Tears”, the title track, and “I Won” borderline unlistenable simply because of how badly the autotune is utilized. Before anyone jumps on me, the autotune is not the problem. There are examples of it being used correctly (T-Pain, Daft Punk, Finn the Human, etc.) The problem is squarely with Future who groans and shouts his way through 14 tracks, desperately hoping the computer will make him sound passable.
The singing is bad, but the hooks are even worse. Consistently, Honest’s hooks are too long to be catchy and too repetitive to be engaging. “Move That Dope” is a prime offender here, repeating the phrase “Young nigga move that dope” 120 times (I counted). The fact that there’s no variance in tone or phrasing except the occasional “Aye, move that dope, they move that dope” makes the hook headache inducing. “I Won” has a hook that lasts fifteen lines of essentially repeating the same four phrases to the point where it seems like Future straight up ran out of ideas and just decided to say “trophy” repeatedly hoping that it could be catchy. “My Momma” has him saying “My momma ain’t raised no ho” around 30 time only breaking to say “My niggas they wrap that dough/These niggas ain't got no hope/They runnin' and kickin' in doors” which he also repeats too much and it goes for 16 lines before the song even starts, making one sick of the hook before the first verse even starts. “Honest” features him beating the phrase “I’m just being honest” into the ground as he says it not only at the end of near every line in the chorus but also in the verses as well (begging the question, if Future is so honest, why does he feel the need to constantly remind us of that fact") The only hooks that are not overly long and repetitive are “Special” and “I Be U” which are actually at manageable lengths and don’t make you want to break the CD in half.
While the singing is awful and the hooks are mind-numbing, the verses from Future are not remarkable in the slightest. Not one while listening to this album does Future give a clever bar or witty punchline or groan-inducing simile or anything for that matter. Future shows plainly on this album that he has no personality whatsoever. He is not a gangster like Rick Ross. He is not a decadent hedonist like Lil Wayne or Jay-Z. He is not a sensitive ladies man like Drake. He is not a stark raving egotist like Kanye West. He is not even going for the easy “get a personality free” card and creating an alter ego like Eminem or Nicki Minaj. He’s just a rapper, a rapper who sings. Every single verse from him is painfully generic and so bereft of any life or wit that it makes Future come across as a painfully dull human being only creating lyrics as if filling out a checkbox of what’s needed in a mainstream rap album.
This album is a waste, plain and simple. Future only shows in Honest that he is a rapper that brings absolutely nothing to the table. He has no personality to make him memorable. He is a terrible singer. Hell, he isn’t even so bad that you can enjoy his albums by laughing at his ineptitude. He is bad, through and through and the only thing that saves him from the dreaded 1 is that he is hardly remarkable enough to be considered truly awful.
This album sucks, and I’m just being honest.