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Looking back at Future's interrupted journey to 'HNDRXX'

Originally announced in 2012, the Atlanta rapper experienced quite a share of delays and setbacks.

Artist // Instagram

On "Draco," one of the many highlights on FUTURE, Future announces "I'm focused, I'm back on my mission." Nearly a week removed from the self-titled release, which is on pace to give him his fourth consecutive No. 1 on the Billboard 200, the ATLien is underlining that message in bold highlights now that there is plans for another new album this week.

Future's 'FUTURE': First Thoughts

As reported, another new album from Future, titled HNDRXX, is arriving Friday (February 24), marking Fewtch's second album release of the year. Calling it "the album I always wanted to make," the set will feature appearances from The Weeknd and Rihanna and is expected to be a return to form for the rapper. But this "return to form" isn't the same as what produced such classics like Monster, DS2, and most recently FUTURE. Instead, this sonic comeback is one that's been long in the making.

As longtime Future fans will know, the title to Future's latest album has been in the making for quite some time. It was originally announced back in 2012, but was later scrapped for the 2013 sleeper, Honest. In a 2013 interview with SPIN, the rapper described the concept for what would have been his free-spirited sophomore album, calling it "a statement."

"It's freedom and passion, freedom of expression. Being melodic, being more free-spirited. Just being myself," he said. "Not trying to imitate anyone else. Just going into the booth, doing whatever feels good at the moment, capture the moment... using everything as a tool. I feel like a voice for the people." In that same year, he shared similar sentiments about the release to Rolling Stone. "This sets the tone for everything that's about to come," he praised. "I feel like this is my first album that's really going to touch the people in the right way."

Backed by the success of Pluto, the critically-acclaimed home of his pop-centric melodies ("Turn On the Lights," "Permanent Scar," "Neva End"), the ATLien announced Future Hendrix as the follow-up to his debut album and garnered plenty of excitement behind the project thanks to studio sessions with Kanye West, Rihanna, Kelly Rowland, Timbaland, Pharrell Williams, Miley Cyrus, and more.

As the project's first single, he released "Real and True," a spacey, pop-tinged ballad featuring Miley Cyrus and Mr. Hudson. Despite strong showings by the stars, the single failed to strike attention. It only reached No. 32 on the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart, confused fans who were expecting records like "Tony Montana," and ultimately sent Future back to the drawing board. "I don't want to lose the connection with fans, and with Future Hendrix, there was going to be a weird disconnect," he told Billboard in 2014. "Fans who love me for 'Same Damn Time' and records like that, they would have felt disconnected. I've got to show my fans why I'm going in this direction — these are people who've been following me since my first mixtape," he continued.

With a new gameplan, Future scrapped Hendrix, released "Move That Dope," and renamed the album Honest. In describing the album, he said it would provide the missing pieces for fans to properly understand Hendrix. "It touches on subjects that are going to help them prepare for Future Hendrix so it doesn't feel like a curveball," he said.

Shortly after Honest arrived, the rapper sat with Hot 97 and confirmed that the originally intended bluesier album would arrive. "[Future Hendrix,] that's the album that's about to come. I just had to take a step back and make sure I connect with the fans." When asked about the sound behind Hendrix, Future revealed that songs like the Honest gem "I Be U" would be more of the vibe. "Something like 'I Be U'," he said. "That's more Future Hendrix. There's more emotions in it, good or bad."

Although it was intended to be the follow-up to Honest, plans for Hendrix once again took a detour, this time after a very public breakup with Ciara. Of course, by now we know this change in course gave birth to the run we continue to discuss today.

Now, here we are in February 2017 and Hendrix, now shortened to HNDRXX, has finally been prepared for the masses. It'll mark the rapper's second consecutive 2017 release and, in similar vein to Nelly's 2004 albums Sweat and Suit, it will be a follow-up to FUTURE. Is the world finally ready to hear Future step out of his world and create? Or will it be a curveball? In any case, the man behind the project himself is ready and that's all that matters at this point. "This is the Honest album I was supposed to be honest about," he tells Zane Lowe in a new interview. "If it ruffles feathers, then it is what it is. I'm not mad at it."

The greater the risk, the greater the reward.

Future's second 2017 album HNDRXX arrives tonight.

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