Did Future’s “Honest” Album Flop, And Why?
If you listened to the podcast last week you already heard me go over this, but now that the frankly surprising sales numbers for Future's highly-anticipated "Honest" album are out, it's been on my mind too much to ignore. Looks like I'm going to have to revive the "Sales" report.
First and foremost, even considering calling "Honest" a flop is about context. The album debuted at number two, behind only Disney's mega-smash soundtrack for "Frozen", which, by the way, has been getting a lot of burn in El Case de Nathan S. (Shout out to my daughter). Dropping a number one versus a number two versus a number whatever album is in large part just a matter of luck. "Let It Go" doesn't become a hit single and boom, Future goes on the record books with a number one album. Or Beyonce decides to drop her surprise album last week and boom, he's at number three.
What's far more important is the number, and that number is 53,000, a number I have to imagine Future, his team and Epic are disappointed in. Now, in 2014 selling over 50K in a week is nothing to scoff at, but again, some context. Iggy Azalea, an artist I would have previous said was far less proven, only barely missed out at Future's spot by selling 51K. It's certainly nowhere near the top tier of rappers - Drake, Eminem, Jay Z, etc. - who all topped over 500K on their last albums, and it's not even really in the next tier down - the Wales, J. Coles and Mac Millers of the world - who all did over 100K.
So what are we supposed to make of Future's 50K, and how did it happen? I would have bet sales for "Gifted" would have topped "Honest", but not by this much. How did Wale sell three times as many first week albums as Future?
There are really only three options:
1. The music on "Honest" wasn't very good
Not being much of a Future connoisseur, and frankly not even spending much time listening to "Honest", this is the hardest option for me to really weigh. All of the reviews I read seemed to be generally if not overwhelmingly positive, and at least if Twitter is any indication, his fans seemed to generally like it. A true Future head is going to have to weigh in here, but until then my general take is the album's music couldn't have been bad enough to solely, or perhaphs even significantly account for the lower than expected numbers.
It's worth noting though that big singles still drive album sales, and none of the singles from "Honest" so far - "Shit", "Honest", "Real & True" and "Move That Dope" - have charted any higher than 30th.
2. The release of "Honest" was messed up
This is the option that's really weighing on me the most, because it theoretically should be the easiest to figure out. It doesn't matter how popular you are, a well planned and executed album release is still going to move the sales needle, but again, I just can't see what could have gone wrong here with Future.
He appeared to have some true priority support and marketing push from his label, he did the usual full round of media, they released an official stream a few days before and the album didn't leak any earlier than most do these days. Sure, there were some delays, but since when is a rap album not delayed, I find it hard to believe that was a factor. All told it was a perfectly average and expected roll out.
So while yes, he certainly could have done more, again, I didn't see anything unusually wrong here that could have abnormally tanked what would have otherwise been a much better selling album.
3. Future's not nearly as popular as I thought
I don't know what other conclusion there really is to draw. Even though I'm not personally much of a fan, I had Future ranked pretty high up there in the Rap Power Rankings. It seemed like you couldn't go a week without a new Future related headline making the rounds on the interwebs, and it was much realer than just hype. He really does have a passionate, substantial fan base. He really is touring very well - one of the reasons "Honest" was delayed was his tour with Drake. He really is writing songs for other huge artists.
Considering his last album, "Pluto" sold 41K first week, and how much more popular he seemed to be now than two years ago, I expected "Honest" to at least push the 100K line, and I know I wasn't alone. But maybe the problem wasn't with Future, maybe it was with me. Maybe I just failed to understand the inner workings of Planet Future and over-estimated his reach.
Either way, I'm thoroughly confused by the sales of "Honest", and when I'm confused, I turn to RefinedHype Nation. Maybe together we can sort this out. So should we consider "Honest" a flop? And if it did flop, why? WHHYYYY?????
[Nathan S. is the managing editor of The DJBooth, the proprietor of RefinedHype, and a hip-hop writer. He also occasionally talks in podcast form and appears on RevoltTV. His beard is awesome. This is his Twitter.]