The WIZRD is good - but not great like the other Future projects that served as the blueprint for Toronto’s rap sound
By Xavier Eeswaran
Atlanta-born rapper Future’s impact on this generation's rap music cannot be understated. When it comes to rap’s hottest sub-genre, trap music, Future is the leader of an era. Since his debut album Pluto dropped in 2012, the genre’s top charts have been filled with Future songs and trap influenced by Future’s iconic autotuned melodies and mumble raps that have shaped hip-hop’s landscape.
Nearly two years removed from his last full-length release, Future returns with The WIZRD, an album titled after the nickname his late associate, OG Double D gave him before his passing in 2013. From the album’s title to the, “I been poppin since my demo bitch,” hook that Future repeats on “Rocket Ship,” Future is very reflective of his past on The WIZRD. It is almost as if he has done what he set out to do when first started rapping. This might explain why Future crowned new rap sensations Lil Baby and Gunna the kings of trap music earlier this month.
The album starts with the soulful upbeat “Never Stop” where Future reflects on the good, the bad and the ugly that has shaped him. From there, Future sticks to what he is good at; fast paced, catchy, strip club anthems. This includes “Jumpin on a Jet,” “Rocket Ship,” “Crushed Up” and “Faceshot.” While these songs are good, they’re nothing we haven’t heard from Future before, just like this album.
The album features highlights such as the insane beat switches on “F&N” and “Baptiize” that are sure to amp up any fan of trap music. As well as some amazing features on “First Off” with Travis Scott and “Unicorn Purp” with Young Thug and Gunna that are sure to find way into your playlists.
Despite these highlights, there are cons. The album is too long (20 songs), the songs as a collective sound too similar to each other and there should have been more features. Toronto superstars Drake and The Weeknd who have collaborated with Future in prior projects (Drake and Future dropped their collab retail mixtape What A Time To Be Alive in 2016, The Weeknd and Future topped charts with their songs “All I Know” and “Low life”), could have been used very well on this album but were nowhere to be found. This is unfortunate, given Future’s influence on Toronto’s rap scene.
Future’s influence on Toronto’s rap sound is undeniable: he makes autotune and trap go together like salsa and chips, essentially setting the stage for Toronto rappers such as Lb and Casper, known for gritty lyrics coated in autotune. Drake and Future’s classic production techniques of simplistic drum patterns and filtered synths for vocal room are a huge part of TNG Casper’s sound, spotted on his biggest hit, “Freeze” featuring Top5. According to Casper’s official website, his early influences came from his father’s taste and own music as a member of Too Bad to Be True, and then as he got older, Future, The Weeknd, and Drake crept in.
Lb, the baby-faced hit maker, is known throughout Toronto’s local hip hop sphere for his catchy hooks and autotune, like on his track “My Phone” which currently has over a million views on Youtube.
While Casper and Lb are known almost exclusively in Toronto and the greater Toronto area, Future’s influence also reaches mainstream Toronto stars as well. 88Glam, a hip hop duo signed to The Weeknd’s XO label, composed of Toronto artists 88 Camino and Derek Wise (formerly of Kensington Market collective Get Home Safe with fellow Toronto rapper Jazz Cartier) have the city and hip hop fans in awe of their quick flows and strong bars, delivered in the language Future made cool for clubs — autotune. Fellow XO artist, Nav, of Rexdale, has also adopted autotune into his arsenal, the key to his success in making him one of the well known names in rap.
While Future’s influence is more evident than ever on Toronto and hip hop in general, it’s due to his previous work and not necessarily The WIZRD. Overall, The WIZRD is good, but not great. Future sticks to what he’s good at with the catchy trap bangers, but he doesn’t experiment outside of his comfort zone like he did with his last full-length album Hndrxx.
If Future’s run from 2015 to 2017 where he dropped hit mixtapes (Monster, Beast Mode, 56 nights, Purple Reign), chart topping albums (DS2, Evol, Future, Hndrxx) and some huge collaboration albums with Drake and fellow Atlanta native Young Thug was his championship run, then The WIZRD is Future looking back at a great career while showing that he still has the it factor to compete.