Future photographed by Jiwon Yeo
Interview by Avi Friedman
From SNEEZE NO.19 spring/summer 2013

When Future took Jimmy Kimmel’s stage with Kelly Rowland, late last year, to deliver a performance of “Neva End” from his Pluto 3D, you would have been a fool to deny his charisma. Future bobbed and bounced to the beat of his live band, clad in a black and red leather outfit that looked like something H-Town may have worn to perform “Knockin Da Boots,” as everyone ate it up.

If Future would have opted to perform his club banger, “Turn On The Lights,” instead, there’s no doubt that the in-studio audience would have sang every word. Nevertheless, on they kept, vibing hard to “Neva End,” his extra-soft radio hit.

Atlanta’s Future is the perfect storm in many ways. The inspirational yet contemplative leader of the Trap Rap movement, his style and sound is a mixture of laid-back singsong moments, codeine infused rhyme schemes and Neiman Marcus swag. Drizzle in some outer space motif and sprinkle over a hauntingly melodic Mike Will Made It production and “tha truth” will keep being written.

AVI FRIEDMAN: What are your thoughts on people saying you’re the next Max B?

FUTURE: Oh, man (pauses), Max B is a real good dude. It’s not bad to be compared to, since that dude put out over a hundred albums, I can deal with that, it’s not bad at all.

You have quite the ability to sing. Growing up, did you take singing lessons?

It’s just something that kinda happened, you know?

What was it like working with R. Kelly? He’s been known to be out there…

R. Kelly is a good dude; he’s very professional and knows how to make hits on hits on hits.

You’re sort of ushering in the second generation of “ATLiens,” do you feel any sort of responsibility for that?

No responsibilities but to show the ATL that it’s about making hit records, it’s about showing and proving to the other artists that you can keep doing you, ’cause they try to box you in and box you in, you got to be able to work it out. There’s a lot of frustrations and errors and trials and tribulations to make the music what it is. You got to learn how to grow so that’s what my whole outlook is — being a good inspiration to Atlanta, to show other artists that’s coming up behind me to keep doing it and never look back.

You did the Free Bricks tape with Gucci Mane, can we expect you to do any more collaborative tapes? Possibly with 2 Chainz?

Really, at this point in my career, that’s in the past. Right now, I’m looking for new adventures, so a mixtape is gonna be a mixtape and I’ve already made history, ’cause my mixtape catalogue is really long, and so right now it’s about going to the next level. Like I said, I’m not looking behind, you know what I mean? Being able to capitalize off the brand and Future Hendrix, now that everything else is behind me. Going from doing mixtapes and collaborating on mixtapes, with other artists, to just focusing on Future Hendrix and capitalize on Future Hendrix and everything that’s around me like Freebandz, or one of the new artists that I work with. I wanna make sure that I’ve reached the full potential that I’m able to do and come up with a plan and to create and find my creative juices for the right moment.

You mentioned Freebandz, what can we expect from that?

I mean, it’s crazy; anybody who’s up on the Freebandz movement knows that, no matter the name, we always drive off very ambitiously. We’re very self-driven, self-motivated, hard working. Making sure you stay in the studio every day, for whatever artist to call. We just got to keep that same drive, keep that same passion for music. It’s about identifying those artists that want to take it over to the next level and go all the way, full-fledged. Being able to know that there’s going to be frustrating times in this game, that it’s going to hurt you. There’s going to be certain obstacles that you got to cross over. In the game you got to win those situations out and it’s going to be a beautiful situation at the end of this road. I believe there’s going to be something, something… Gon’be a step of history made.

What’s the perfect ratio of mixing Sprite and Actavis?

With purple, I really don’t know with that, you know what I mean? That’s ’cause it’s not like I’m the mad scientist or whatever. I’m just experienced with this medicine. It’s just I do what I do; I’m not in the lab working on it. It’s something I’m trying to move on forward from. It’s just the time hasn’t came, but there’s gonna be a time where I have to make a move on past the Actavis. It’s so hard ’cause I ain’t never been sober so it’s like, man, I don’t know what it feels like to be sober, so it’s kinda scary.

Are you at all influenced by reggae music? A lot of West Indians say they can hear a Jamaican style in most of your records.

It’s the melody of it, the more melodic sounds, the Caribbean flavors, the beat patterns — everything about music. I love music so much it don’t matter what style of music it is, or what category it’s from. Pop, urban, to crossover, to rock ‘n’ roll, to country to techno, I take something from every music world and I apply it to Future and try to find a way to build from that.

How would you describe your music? You have such a crazy range between a song like “Deeper Than the Ocean” all the way to “Turn on the Lights,” it’s almost somewhat emotional.

Yeah, it is, man. I get emotional on records. It’s very emotional, like I’m letting, you know, Future Hendrix past and my pain, and it’s a reflection of the things that I’m thinking right now.

What is your favorite fashion piece? Is there something specific?

Nah, nah, Freebandz apparel the only real pieces that I love and that I cherish most. Any other designers I just wear and might put together, you know. I’m not a dude with names, I’m a dude for fashion like I pick the fashion over the names ’cause at the end of the day I like the way I put it together, put different colour patterns together, the coordination of it.

You had the best R&B tracks of 2012 with “Turn on the Lights” and “Love Song.” Is R&B a realm you make an effort to tackle or does it come naturally?

It comes natural, I don’t try to force it. Today I don’t say, ‘I’m going to the studio to make an R&B song.’ I say, ‘I’m going to the studio to make a great song.’

How did you get the name Future?

It’s always being relevant. When I was young seeing the older heads would always say, ‘Man, you’re the future.’ Always looking forward and being ahead of the curve, being a force to come, and I was a force to come — people had seen that early on in my career or early on in my life. The dudes that came around me gave me that name and planted me with “Future” just to say, ‘You the future, you the future, you the future.’ They would always call me Future and they would tell me my time would come and I was living up to their expectations. The word is powerful, to be able to live and be the future right now ’cause I’m always looking to reinvent myself. The name always keeps me on my toes ’cause the future is always new and always fresh. Future always come up with the fresh lingo or the new fresh trend or whatever.

From the inception of your career did you perceive yourself to get this big?

I always think of me as a special individual, you know what I mean? Not to toot my own horn, but I always felt like I had something else to offer the world than just being a hustler full of lyrics, standing on the corner, doing what I was doing in the streets. I’d never seen myself doing that for the rest of my life. I always thought of a way to take it to the next level, it was all a learning experience for me. And what I’ve learned is that if you can live through certain things, certain trials and errors of your life, then you’ll be able to go from there and be a better person. Everything that I went through has made me a better person. I never thought that I was that person when I was in that situation, I always knew I was destined for greatness. ♠

Future photographed by Jiwon Yeo in New York