Experimental Chicago-based producer Bryan Ford teamed up with Wu-Tang affiliate Killah Priest, Pugs Atomz and Awdazcate to create For the Future of Hip Hop, which poses the question: is this the genre’s future in good hands, or is this album a bad omen?

While this project isn’t exactly as busted as the Babe Ruth baseball Benny from The Sandlot. However, it’s not the future and progressive thinking individual want for Hip Hop, either.

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For the Future’s… biggest problem is its lack of focus. There’s not much tying these tracks together except for the experimental feel, which produces more duds than gems. The title track sounds like a Star Wars battle is going on at one point, and later, features a cluster of poorly placed electronic sounds, including one that resembles the unpleasant squeaking of someone cleaning windows. No joke. Elsewhere, a hodgepodge of sounds ruins “Fluctuations,” and Killah Priest whispers “Planet, Planet of the Gods” over and over again over a plodding beat on and track named, you guessed it, “Planet of the Gods.”

When the album connects, it gets the head bobbing and the feet ready to move. “The Stroller” is appropriately titled; it’s easy to see someone grooving down the street to the funky track à la John Travolta in Saturday Night Fever. The dramatic pace of “Red Span (Instrumental)” also demonstrates Ford’s talents, but it’s “Just Me & My Girl” that’s easily the best song. The gentle guitar licks and knocking drums back Pugs’ solid raps, but it’s Awdazcate’s crooning that draws in the listener. Unfortunately, these moments are serve as the exception to the rule this time out.

Ford doesn’t shoulder all of the blame. Killah Priest and Pugs Atomz seem more into the
experimentation of the process than actually coming up with dope rhymes. Priest essentially says nothing when he rhymes on the title track, “The memoirs of the future, trapped inside a computer/The word maneuver, space intruders.” There are far too many moments like that from him. Pugs spends much of “Just Take Over” simply repeating “Feeling like my life is over, life is over,” leaving the listener to hope for the song to be over long before it ends. However, Killah Priest manages to deliver on “The Stroller,” spitting provocative rhymes like “Book of Revelation, Chapter 24, thou shall be kind and obey the law…Chapter 28, break the law spend five years upstate.” Perhaps if Priest and Pugs would have spent more time penning rhymes like this and less time repeating phrases over cluttered production, the album would have been better off.

But, they didn’t, and we’re left with an album that gets lost in its own experimentation. For the Future of Hip Hop is a hit-or-miss affair that suffers from a lack of direction.