Future: Taking Hip-Hop to Higher Ground

On a warm night in April, hip-hop saw its future. Thousands of rap fans stood shoulder to shoulder inside the cramped Masquerade concert hall in Atlanta as the city’s newest sensation was preparing to take the stage. With little ventilation, the venue had the feel of an airless juke joint in the Mississippi Delta.

But despite the sweltering conditions, the fans waited anxiously and erupted once the main attraction entered the stage.
The six-foot tall Future’s stride was similar to a pro athlete’s, his dreadlocks hung shoulder length and he effortlessly controlled the crowd with a raspy voice that complemented his edgy disposition.

Before the night was over, T.I., Big Boi, Gucci Mane and Young Jeezy all hit the stage with Future in a moment that signified the passing of the torch.

Indeed, Atlanta’s ever-growing hip-hop scene was welcoming a new member to its elite stable of bona fide rappers.
At 26 years old, Nyvadiuos Young considers himself the “Future,” but there is so much about him that represents the past. His music is somewhat reminiscent of a time when street-inspired themes ruled hip-hop. Although much of rap continues to be watered down by pop-influenced sounds, Future has achieved a level of success with gritty rhymes that are inspired by the seedy areas of Atlanta that you won’t see on television.

And he has the hits to prove it.

“Racks” served as a celebratory ode to clubbing; “Tony Montana” played as the unofficial soundtrack to hip-hop’s favorite gangster flick, Scarface; “Magic” gave listeners a slice of A-town’s renowned strip club culture; and “Same Damn Time” depicted the dysfunctional struggles of life in the trap.

His fan base responded by helping each single secure respectable positions on the Billboard charts, which led to the release of his first solo album, Pluto.

The album, which debuted at No. 2 on the R&B charts, was L.A. Reid’s first rap release as CEO of Epic Records and it also put Future in a position to challenge as new artist of the year.

Several weeks after his memorable concert at the Masquerade, Future discussed his struggles of the past and the astronomical possibilities that lie ahead.

A.R. Shaw
A.R. Shaw

A.R. Shaw is an author and journalist who documents culture, politics, and entertainment. He has covered The Obama White House, the summer Olympics in London, and currently serves as Lifestyle Editor for Rolling Out magazine. Follow his journey on Twitter @arshaw and Instagram @arshaw23.

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