Every year, a new brand/breed of rappers land upon the music scene. Future is no different - well to some extent. Future is combination of pop-rap and southern-rap, but sometimes the two worlds don't always mix the greatest as evidenced by Pluto. Pluto has its sound moments and its `less-than-stellar' ones which makes the album a flawed affair. Sometimes it's the production that is static and other times it's Future's distasteful experiments, lazy hooks, or plain uninspired lyrics that sink the momentum of Pluto.
"The Future is Now" is a minute-plus intro that features spoken word contributed by Big Rube. The electric guitar accompaniment (Michael "Mike P" Patterson) combined with Rube's words sets the tone for the effort - it is going to be `out there.' Sure enough, the odd-ball production by John Blu on the exceptional R. Kelly featured opener "Parachute" is unlike any other rap opener this year. R. Kelly sounds as salacious as ever, even if it is disguised through the riddle-laden lyrics (oh but successive listens reveal all). Future's raps are well pop-laden laced - maybe the better word is `drenched' - in effects. R. Kelly definitely steals the show with his gimmicky refrain: "Falling (for you)...Think I need a p-p-p-p-p (Think I need a parachute)..."
"Straight Up," unfortunately disrupts the high-bar set by "Parachute." Where "Parachute" was cleverly sensual, "Straight Up" is too repetitive and lacks enough differentiation within the production to make it exciting. Making it worse is Future is too focused on auto tune that the performance comes off a bit sloppy. Even the hook is humdrum and lacking: "Got the Gucci boots on like it's snowing...straight up..." "Astronaut Chick" is better, but still not the triumph of "Parachute," despite it's R&B leanings. Future again opts for auto-tuned laced glory, though to his credit it does work a bit better for him here. The hook is definitely stronger than "Straight Up," but overall "Astronaut Chick" still feels like it is missing that extra `Magic.'
Speaking of `magic,' Future aims for more magic on "Magic [Remix]" which features T.I. The results are better than some cuts, but still not `stellar.' Future still dabbles in pop-rap, though it works well enough. T.I sound fine, though certainly delivers no valedictory performance by any accounts. Better, "Magic" lacks spark. "I'm Trippin'" isn't too shabby, but there is too much of a casual approach to the over-simplistic hook that makes the cut feel somewhat `blah.' "Truth Gonna Hurt You" lacks a connections with listeners where Future's lyrics feel incredibly uninspired while "Neva End" is a steep low for the MC; dreary and uninspiring. At this point, the listener feels that Future needs a huge lift to propel Pluto out of the dunes.
"Tony Montana," featuring Drake, provides Future with a much needed lift. The production falls in the category of `typical hip-hop fare' and while the hook is repetitive, it works well enough. Drake arguably outperforms Future, but that is ok considering Future `needs the lift.' When Drake goes `bye-bye' on follow-up track "Permanent Scar," things go `south.' The production remains way too static, which further makes the rather casual Future sound extremely uninspired and `boring.' "Permanent Scar" is by far the lowest point of the effort, bring nothing `fresh'. At least by this time, big single "Same Damn Time" comes and saves the day - and without a big name collaborator!
"Same Damn Time" is the perfect choice for a single as it is one of the most straightforward, standard, and commercial cuts of the effort. The production contributed by Sonny Digital is superb as is the typically-southern hook. On this cut, Future does thrown in some pop-rap ideas at the end of the second verse and throughout the third verse, but the balance between traditional and futuristic rap blends perfectly on this cut. In other words, Future doesn't over-indulge here. "Same Dame Time" proves to be the right cut to propel Pluto to the end.
"Long Live the Pimp," featuring Trae the Truth keeps the momentum of "Same Damn Time" going. The hook is lazy, but inspired enough. "Homicide" finds Future being lifted by Snoop Dogg, and effectively given the superb production work by John Boy. "Turn on the Lights" while not the best or electrifying cut features credible production by Mike Will Made It that comes off experimental without being `too' experimental. "You Deserve It" is kind of a `bragging' cut and `it is what it is.'
Overall, Pluto won't solidify Future as the greatest MC by any means nor will it necessarily accrue his fan base. There are `good' songs, but the album as a whole lacks the focus of better MC's and debuts. For album two, Future will need a stronger array of producers, songwriters, and more focus himself as a lyricist. Pluto comes off as a mixed-bag.
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