Imagine a funhouse at a local fair or festival, the kind with a maze of mirrors, undulating floors, a steep, enormous slide, mirrors that stretch and squish viewers, air jets meant to startle patrons and a tunnel of love. Now, take that funhouse, drop it in the world of Atlanta’s rap superstars and let Future create the soundtrack. The WIZRD is exactly how that would sound.
On his seventh album, Future has once again transformed himself. As one of rap’s foremost stars with an image to maintain, he made the decision to try something new. He set out to craft a collection of songs that will warp, distort and reimagine the sound of Atlanta trap music. With help from a team of stalwart producers and up-and-comers, Future has done just that.
The rapper displays a newfound hunger on The WIZRD. He showcases his dexterity over off-kilter beats from the likes of Tay Keith and 808 Mafia’s Southside and TM88. Amidst the chaos, his voice rings out loud and clear as he twists his words around the rumble of the 808s and the spark of the keys and samples. The lead single, “Crushed Up,” is a prime example. Future is at his best on this track, turning the braggadocio to the max as he ponders his lavish lifestyle. Now, if not for the production from Wheezy, this track would be standard Future fare. This is by no means a bad thing, but the production on this song, and the album as a whole for that matter, is where Future begins to experiment. Never has he rapped over a beat this strange. As the beat’s sample rides, its keys are stretched to their limit, sounding more like a wail than a synth blast.
This continues throughout the entire album. Every beat sounds as if it came straight from a carnival, and Future, fully embodying his “wizard” title, is nothing short of magical as he flows over each of them. As with most of his releases, Future is more focused on the vibe of each track than the lyrics. However, between the slick talk and the boasts, he still finds time to throw some sentimentality into his lyrics. On the album opener “Never Stop,” Future’s delivery is somber and subdued, and the lyrics parallel this. “Never Stop” is Future reflecting on his entire career up to the release of The WIZRD, covering the ground between his rise to fame and his recent kicking of his lean habit. Introspective cuts like this and “Krazy but True” blended with hard hitters like “Call the Coroner” allow Future to showcase just how multifaceted a rapper he is.
Given all the highlights Future provides listeners, he occasionally strays from the path and makes some poor decisions. Primarily, the album is far too long. Clocking in at over one hour with 20 tracks, The WIZRD overstays its welcome at times. If five to seven of the weaker tracks like “First Off” featuring Travis Scott and “Talk Shit like a Preacher,” whose sounds are beyond played out at this point, were cut, the album would benefit greatly. Songs like these are not bad, but they bring nothing new to the table. Their beats are fairly pedestrian and the lyrics and flow are typical of Atlanta trap. They are so glaringly normal that they hold The WIZRD back from being near the top of Future’s discography.
Nonethless, The WIZRD feels like a return to form for Future, who just recently released a lackluster collaborative album with Juice WRLD. If anything, this album proves that Future, even at this stage of his career, has more than enough gas left in the tank.