Forever the over-indulger, Future dropped his fifth and sixth albums in the span of seven days in early 2017. Both FUTURE and HNDRXX debuted at No. 1, making the Atlanta rapper the first artist to release two chart-topping albums in consecutive weeks. But what’s even more remarkable about these back-to-back hits is the way in which they serve as companion pieces and counterpoints: While FUTURE hones in on the grimy trap bangers he’d proved he could write in his sleep, HNDRXX is lush, introspective, and occasionally even…sweet? To fans who’d become accustomed to the antihero persona Future crafted on such mid-2010s hits as Monster and DS2, the softer side of Future likely came as a shock. But those who’d been listening since 2012’s Pluto knew the rapper had a sentimental streak: After all, this is the guy who once warbled about searching for his soulmate with a flashlight. HNDRXX allows Future to indulge his more romantic impulses. It’s also a showcase for one of his most fan-beloved alter egos: Future Hendrix, a figure the rapper describes as something of a rock-star Casanova with a penchant for the psychedelic. Though HNDRXX’s opening suite of songs wallow in some leftover bitterness, Future Hendrix soon shows up, as the album gives way to love-drunk crooners that shimmer like sunlight on an infinity pool—and reveal a rapper who’s ready to move on from all the hurt. On the island-inspired “Incredible,” the former Mr. Toxic Masculinity USA tries out hot yoga and texts cute emojis to his new partner, while the gently trippy “I Thank U” looks back on a former relationship with gratitude instead of spite. Scattered in the mix are a few bids for the mainstream airwaves, including a pair of cutesy duets with Rihanna and Nicki Minaj. Just a few years earlier, Future had sworn he was a monster, not a pop star. But who says we can’t have it all?

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