“I Just Go in With an Open Mind and Create” — An Interview with Future

In November of 2013, I interviewed Future in North Hollywood. In advance of "Dirty Sprite 2," it only makes sense to post the complete conversation with Future Aldrin.
By    July 14, 2015


Just yesterday, NASA revealed the most in-depth photos of Pluto ever before seen. Several days before that, Future revealed this Friday’s release date of Dirty Sprite 2, the most anticipated project since they connected London to Paris via chunnel. We can pretend that it’s coincidence or we can just admit that Future Copernicus controls the cosmos, the scientific community, and Magic City Mondays—the new triple crown. It took the New Horizons spacecraft 3 billion miles to find out what we already knew: that 56 nights is crazy.

This interview below occurred in November of 2013. Details sent me to Future Thomas Anderson’s North Hollywood studio for a short Q&A that only appeared in print, never online. For the interests of the #Futurehive and for posterity, I figured that I should re-print the interview in full here.

Future was late to the interview because Nayvaydius does not conform to the needs of your Gregorian calendar and Greenwich standard time. The waiting room was decorated with pictures of Louis Armstrong and Ali with the Beatles. Tribal masks and a psychedelic Asian feel. I assume that Future Givenchy wasn’t the interior designer, but I would like to pretend that he was. It makes more sense that way.

There is a pool table and ample flat screen TVs. White plush furry pillows and white flowers. He shows up in a white hoodie because he is meticulous about matching detail. One producer per project, one color scheme. He rocks red old school Jordan’s and sips Fiji water. There are Lifesavers, popcorn, and candles everywhere. In the course of the 45-minute interview, we went through three blunts. He shared them because he is a man of dignity and virtue.

Future has a reputation as a difficult interview. This isn’t entirely untrue. He’s wary to open up to the press and hesitates to elaborate on his answers—likely for fear of revealing the mystique. But he was consistently polite and responded with his eyes closed, as though he was in a trance. At the end of the interview, he took it all in, and said to no one in particular, “cool guy.” I assumed it was about me, but maybe he was speaking about himself in the third person. Either way, it was the highlight of my journalistic career. — Weiss


POW Mix — Future & The Infinite Sadness (Left-Click)

One of my favorite parts about Pluto was that you got Big Rube on it. We need more Big Rube in this world.

Future: Big Rube has to be on every album. It’s a superstitious thing. You gotta have Big Rube on the album. It’s spoken word poetry at it’s finest.

What did you learn when you were a kid going to these Dungeon Family studio sessions?

Future: I was more of a teen going to watch Dungeon Family, but I’d just go there and sit and watch how they talked and watch what excited them, and saw the way they built and structured their music.

Did you ever learn anything in particular from Goodie Mobb or Outkast?

Future: I learned from both, but especially Outkast – take your time when you make your album. You can make feel good music … whatever represents you at that time, but you just really need to get exhausted within your whole zone.

You were called Meathead at first. When did the name Future come about?

Future: Just being in the dungeon. One of my homies just started calling me Future. He was from the West Side of Atlanta and he was like ‘you the future, you the future.’ And it just stuck.

How did Racks end up turning into such a big hit in the first place?

Future: “Racks” was the first major radio hit. Before “Racks,” I’d done two mixtapes—1000 and No Mercy. The fans responded great in the streets to the mixtapes. I did a few shows, a few songs got added into the mix shows, but none really added onto radio rotation until “Racks.”

Once everyone finally got familiar with “Racks,” they knew that I could make a hit. I feel like I need to capitalize on every moment, and just keep the momentum going. I did a whole body of music around “Racks,” so that instead of just having “Racks” on the radio, and doing a few shows until your buzz dies down, I wanted to keep the momentum going.

Then came “Tony Montana.”

Future: After “Racks,” I switched the momentum to “Tony Montana” to keep the momentum going and let the people know that I could still make hits. I had a body of music, a variety of music to help my fan base understand that I was more than the “Racks” song.

I wanted to do that especially for the people who only listen to the radio. The people who really dig through the crates, who be living on LiveMixtapes and understand the mixtape game, they knew that I could make songs, they knew I could make hits, they knew that I had more to offer than “Racks.”

What would you have done differently if you were actually Tony Montana?

Future: I wouldn’t have got so coked up at the end. I would have at least hid in the closet with the big ass gun and opened it up and been like [explosion noise]. I’d be trying to live—at least think my way out to survive. I’m not fin to sit at this table in front of this big ass door and shoot it down myself. I’m a wait until they go in the door.

How did Drake’s remix to ‘Tony Montana” come about?

Future: That was my real intro to the music business. It was my introduction to just that level of music where he did numbers. He saw the potential in me before I knew I could do it. He was one of the first to catch on.

From my understanding, the singer, The Weeknd, put Drake up on mixtapes. He said that The Weekend was always listening to me. And then Drake just reached out. He was like I wanna get on “Tony Montana” but I love “Long Time Coming.” I love certain songs from your mixtapes. He started telling me mixtape songs and reciting verses. I was like dude’s a real dude.

How did you link up with Mike Will?

Future: Through DJ Esco. Mike Will used to call him every day to give him beats. I was in my zone at the time, just working with one producer. 1000 just had one producer, but he got too big and then I went to the next producer and to a different sound.

It was a gift and I curse because I had to keep reinventing myself on every project. I’m most comfortable working with one producer on one project. No Mercy had totally different producers though. With Dirty Sprite, I was working with a different producer and then Mike came in halfway through the mixtape, I was just like, let him come to the studio.

Was the chemistry pretty immediate?

Future: Everybody knew that I was in that studio from 10 a.m. in the morning to the next morning. I was sleeping in the studio and then Mike Will came through. Everyone used to just pull up. Mike Will was one of those dudes who would just pull up. I was like, ‘I’m not going to use your beats just because you stayed at my studio sessions. Because I told you I don’t fuck with no other producers.’ But he was just consistent. He stayed there for two weeks and I didn’t rap on any of his beats.

Then this one beat stood out and it was the intro to Dirty Sprite. That was the first beat that I did with him. And I was like, ‘you need to take the first beginning of your beat and make it your beat, because you got so many different sounds, you changing it too much.’ When he started doing that, he was bringing those beats back to back and we just started working together and built a relationship.

Whenever I worked on anything, he was always there. But really, all my producers are always there. It’s like more of a family. It might be DJ Spinz, Mike Will there, Will the Fool, he stopping by. But when they leave, Mike Will is still going to be there. He always put in overtime.

Do you think the shared work ethic is part of what drew you guys together and allowed you to continue to evolve?

Future: I feel we share the same passion for music. We really love music. That’s what kept us around each other. Even when we have creative arguments all the time, it’s because we’re pushing each other to our limits, I’m pushing him, he’s pushing me even when he’s not a part of the beat or the production side. I’m always pushing him. It’s real healthy.

Why did you change the name from Future Hendrix to Honest?

Future: I wanted to be more original. To leave a legacy, you have to make a statement. Maybe there will be an album where I do Future Hendrix. But I feel like Future Hendrix is my alter ego. I want to make a statement for music and my generation.

I want people to remember Future. Not just Future Hendrix. I didn’t want people to associate Future with only Jimi Hendrix too. I felt like people were trying to put me in a category. It wasn’t only that Jimi was trying to play the guitar well, it’s because he was a different breed of music. That’s why I associated with Jimi and took on then name Future Hendrix.

Why did you pick the title Honest? Did the song come before the album title?

Future: I wanted to make something that was more of me. People would say, ‘Future, you’ve been mysterious up until this point in your career, you’ve always had mystique. And everyone knows that you can make hits but personally we don’t know you.’

So Honest is supposed to be a full complete broad thought of what I have to bring to the table. There were certain things that I wouldn’t open up about before. That’s what I’m doing on this album and in the interviews around. I didn’t talk about certain things previously because I knew that there would come a time where I would have to reinvent myself and I wanted the people to feel like they’re growing with me.

What does honesty mean to you?

Future: It’s more about being honest and never having to mention honesty again. You can be honest and move on. There are certain questions that the media asked that I never had a chance to answer. There are certain things that I wanted to express through my album and create through the moments I’ve seen, and the moments I’ve witnessed–to create that energy instead of letting it take me down. I have to build off of it and approach everything with fearless energy.

How did you identify with Jimi Hendrix?

Future: Just being different. Him not being accepted in certain environments. He was categorized as just rock and roll. He could go overseas in London and Europe as a superstar, but then he could walk down to the Apollo Theater in Harlem and no one knew who he was. I want them to understand that for hip-hop, I’m that different. But I want to find a way to bridge the gaps. I was born to make music. I love music.

Do you feel fearlessness is part of the secret. Your music has a willingness to admit vulnerability. A lot of rappers do that but it usually comes off corny.

Future: That’s what I try to do. I don’t want anyone really knowing too much about my personal life. I just want them to know that I can make hits because they pre-judge. In this music industry, it’s all about perception. So the perception that I want to put behind me is that I make number one records. Period.

How did you meet Ciara?

Future: The angels of the earth brought us together.

Beyond looks, what made you want to get engaged to her?

Future: I knew I wanted to be with her because when I first met her I didn’t want to have sex with her. And that was weird for me. I thought when I meet her, I’d see her … I’d look at her, I’d want to … because I’m a man and that’s in a man’s nature.

But when I met her, we bonded in a different way. Our chemistry was different. It felt real. And it is real. Our conversation was just everything nonstop. So I fell in love with personality more than just her beautiful features.

Did you expect “Karate Chop” to be such a big single?

Future: Nah, “Karate Chop” was a mixtape song. I didn’t expect it go top ten. I was like I’m going to chop my verses like this and be creative.

Did you ever do karate?

Future: I did when I was young when I was five or six. But I never pursued it. I only had a white belt. I wanted to stay in my regular clothes.

Did you play sports growing up?

Future: I played baseball, basketball, and football. By the 9th grade, I was in the street. It killed my hoop dreams.

What are your favorite movies?

Future: I’d have to say, The Godfather, 300, and Boyz in the Hood.

What did you love most about The Godfather?

Future: I like the from nothing to something story. It always gets you. He deserved to be the Godfather.

What about space as a metaphor? Did you draw from people like George Clinton or was it more of just being high thing?

Future: I did the space shit without even knowing. I feel like my music was so massively spacious. The space that surrounds it. You can go anywhere. After the album, it became a phase. Every time you mention Pluto, you think of Future. I did that for the long term.

Were you upset when they said that Pluto could no longer be classified as a planet?

Future: No, because it’s a CD. I gave you a CD, it’s bigger than the planet. Every time you think of Pluto the planet, you think that it’s no longer a planet, but then you realize that Future made a CD about it. That’s something that’s going to be forever. In 100 years, when they mention Pluto, they’re going to be like this guy named Future named a CD after it.

Did you ever want to be an astronaut?

Future: Everyone wanted to be an astronaut because you could float and fly.

Do you write down your lyrics?

Future: Nah, I just go in the booth in the studio. I never write. I used to write that’s why it took me so long. That’s when I figured out you don’t need to write.

Basically, when I was writing raps, Rico [Wade] would be like it doesn’t sound like you’re rapping, it sounds like you’re reading it.

How did “UOENO” come about?

Future: I was in another room and just walked into the room with Rocko. He played the first beat and I did the hook, and left, but he just saved every hook. I was just like turn the mic on. So after I left months later, he put the record together and it was a smash.

How did the hook for “Bugatti” came about?

Future: I just went to the studio that day and turned the mic on and went in the booth and freestyled it.

Had you ever woken up in a new Bugatti?

Future: Nah, it was just like the feeling of knowing that you’ve made it, saying that I could wake up in a new Bugatti. That’s what that sound is. It’s a feel good record. It’s inspiration.

What’s the strangest place you ever woke up?

Future: I woke up in a villa on the beach, burning hot in Mexico. I knew where I was, but I was like ‘why did I go to sleep with all these crabs walking around?’ But I was feeling so good with the vibe that I couldn’t help it.

What’s one thing that people don’t know about you?

Future: That I’m very fashion forward. I set trends.

What designers do you like?

Future: My favorite is Balmain Jeans. I like the way they fit and the patterns on the knees. I like this new store called Open Ceremony in LA and NYC. Also, Givenchy. That’s the homie, Ricardo.

You were one of the first to merge singing and rapper, but now everyone does it. Did that frustrate you to see people copying you?

Future: I’ve been singing and rapping for a minute. I was the first dude in my world to do it. They beat me to the punch worldwide. But I was always approaching the music being melodic.

People have been jacking the style. But when you set a trend, people come behind you and do it. That’s the beauty of being great. They want to imitate you, be like you, that’s why you gotta be great at what you do. That’s why I keep re-inventing myself I’m not a pattern rapper. I can go off the vibe at the time. I’m the king of turn up music. Nobody was saying turn up. Now the DJs at the radio stations are having entire ‘turn up hours.’

Was the decision to use or not use auto-tune just a vibe thing?

Future: Yeah. On “Shit,” I didn’t use it. I started using it because of my voice. It sounded dope and gave it a nice blend. When I understood how to control it, it just fit my tone. I experiment with it when I go in the booth.

Were you into robots as a kid?

Future: Nah nah, I couldn’t afford them. I was into sports. My favorite was basketball. I played point guard.

What do you hope people take away from this next album and phase of your life?

Future: I always want the music to be larger than life. I’m always trying to create a cinematic vibe. Everything is spontaneous. I just go off the vibe.

I’d hope people take away the idea of change, of growth, the passion in the music, the emotion from different songs. I know what I want now. I can just go in with an open mind and create.

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