The advent of social media has further broken down the fragile wall between an artist and their most ardent fans. One can follow a rapper's Instagrammed photos at a night club, evening drive Vine videos and even catch late-night recording studio tweets. Honest, the second major label album by Atlanta-based rapper/singer Future, exists for all of these weekend night moments. Perennially lit by the stars, the album oscillates between heartfelt, under-the-covers ballads and stomping, turn-up anthems.
Future's earliest crossover hits were sonically maxed-out tracks like "Tony Montana" and "Same Damn Time" which effectively blasted from both car and club speakers. Honest, with "Move That Dope," "T-Shirt" and "How Can I Not," offer a similar, punishing, blunt force. But over the last few years, Future has expanded his repertoire beyond club bangers and found a home with tender love ballads. "I Won" and "I Be U" act as the album's core, where love has an undeniable magic and appeal as Future sings to one who's captured his heart.
The dichotomy between his two sides could be an issue for a lesser artist, but proves to be a strength for Future, who remains immune to such a conflict of values. The emotive-rapper legacy of Drake and Kanye West, both of whom appear on the album, opened the door for this kind of auto-tuned singer-rapper style's acceptance in the mainstream.
Future's appeal of being a tough street guy who is also in tune with his emotions might not have been acceptable a couple decades ago in rap, but it is necessary in 2014, where not having such self-reflection is commercially untenable. The emotionless pose of traditional gangster rap is just that — a pose — and Future, who will be at Amos' Southend on June 10, thankfully lacks such pretense.