Future has always been a hit-making machine. Earlier in his career he adopted (and simultaneously established) a decidedly pimpish Atlanta trapper sound. Since then, Future has achieved ridiculous international recognition, the DJ Eskimo tags long gone. What set him apart from a Wacka Flaka or a Jeezy was his consistent dedication to both authenticity and progression of the sound. Yes a perfectly timed Drake consign in the form of the excellent What A Time To Be Alive collab project was significant. But most fans will tell you that DS2, released the same year, or mixtapes like Monster or Beast Mode released prior to that, were better justification for his legend status.
Modern day Future is less predictable. It feels as though the enduring buzz surrounding his name owes itself to the social media obsessives with the pimp culture his recent sound has, to some extent, ironically departed from, or become a more commercialised version of. That in itself is not even a criticism. However, the resulting effect has been that the regular filler tracks or repetitiveness common in recent Future projects have become a sort of elephant in the room. Having said that, The WIZRD is pretty much devoid of either.
The album starts off with the introspective and mature ‘Never Stop’. Future gets real about the materialism his lifestyle is soaked in (“I got so rich, nothing matters to me”) whilst recounting the unsteady path he’s taken to get there with a triumphent grace. This is a theme reflected also in the layered and earnest ‘Temptation’. True, though Future’s sauced out bragadocio accounts for a decent portion of what we get from this album, a significant amount of range is also demonstrated. As such, the more simple tracks are kept effective and short (‘Rocket Ship’, ‘Promised U That’, ‘Stick To the Models’ and ‘Overdose’) to make way for more memorable tracks that are truly unique and fully formed concepts. For example, ‘Call the Coroner’ sees Future spit a tight verse in a regale bellow with a slight rattle to his voice, emulating a pissed off king. ‘Krazy But True’ sees Future speaking on the topic of recognition with a captivating flow and cadence over dynamic production featuring swirling, distorted, high pitched moans. The most high-energy production moments bring out the most savage moments from Future. ‘Crushed Up’, ‘Servin Killa Kam’, ‘Faceshots’ are each fairly close to DS2 level, the last being the grimiest. Future seems very aware that it feels like the soundtrack to a mustang drift, summarising the aesthetic very simply: “Skrrt, skrrt in a fast car”. ‘F&N’ and ‘Baptiize’ are two other brilliantly produced tracks, featuring ingenious beat switches. Future keeps it together over the gluiding, lil uzi-style synths on ‘Goin Dummi’ too, a genuinely endearing and soothing track.
The few features that appear near the end of the album certainly contribute positively. ‘Unicorn Purp’ is a building banger, though Young Thug and Gunna somewhat highjack the track with their dope back and forth in the second half. The Travis feature, though fairly self contained and lowkey, is also decent.
Overall, WIZRD does lend confidence to the future of Future’s sound. Clearly, his long and successful career is by no means in the business of winding down.