[Photos and Article Content retrieved by Emil Flemmon]

"I Put In Overtime Inside This Vocal Booth" -Future

11:48 May 04, 2017
By: Emil Flemmon

Apparently, that overtime paid off for the Atlanta-born and -raised emcee. On February 17, Future became the first artist in history to have his self-titled album, FUTURE, not only debut at number one, but to have the follow-up album, HNDRX, repeat the same success. Both albums were released within a week of each other, adding another notch to Future’s success since his major-label debut of 2012’s infectious single, “Turn On the Lights.”

Thanks to the way in which album sales have revamped their charting relationship on Billboard, in conjunction with Nielsen’s data push, Future’s success rose on the new platform, which includes streaming as an equivalent to album purchases. This change has helped a lot of artists in today’s climate reach even better milestones in music, such as Katy Perry, Rihanna, and Taylor Swift, to name a few.

Future’s Nobody Safe Tour will touch down in the Greater New Orleans Area on May 6 at Champions Square. Fans will hopefully get to hear familiar songs from albums like Pluto, Honest, and standout cuts from HNDRX including “Selfish” featuring Rihanna, “Fresh Air,” and “Mask Off” from his self-titled album.

In addition to his solo success, Future has collaborated with industry heavy-hitters like Drake, DJ Esco, Gucci Mane, The Weeknd, and others, lengthening his body of work; that success has a story of its own.

"I Put In Overtime Inside This Vocal Booth" -Future

Born Nayvadius Wilburn on November 20, 1983, Wilburn got his stage name while a member of the Dungeon Family. That eventually landed him under the wing of “U.O.E.N.O.” rapper Rocko through A1 Recordings. Although that working relationship would cause commotion later on, during the new age of social media wars, Rocko spoke publicly about helping Future secure his record deal with Epic Records.

Once an artist is signed to a record label, albums aren’t released automatically. Mixtapes have become a cornerstone for artists to help build and keep buzz prior to their label debut. 2012’s Astronaut Status would be the last mixtape Future released before the debut of Pluto. Reviews during his mixtape era, running between 2011 and 2012, sparked a conversation about the delivery of his bars. Serving auto-tune over rap lyrics, the combination was coming off like “rap singing” as opposed to the more traditionally hip hop-rooted flow that rap fans are accustomed to. 

No less, with the release of Pluto, hits like “Same Damn Time,” “Tony Montana,” and his first single that entered the Hot 100, “Magic,” Future was on a solid road to popularity. He was adapting to the formula in the current state of music that contained catchy hooks and perhaps watered-down lyrics, depending on who you ask, but overall, his music was heard globally on both urban and pop radio and in clubs.


A repackaging of the album amid Pluto’s success included a lineup of remixes with Kelly Rowland, Ludacris, and the heavily radio-doused “Loveeeeee Song” featuring the singles selling queen herself, Rihanna. With the consistently rising popularity of the duet between both artists, a recipe that was working quite well on radio, it was rumored that Future wanted to do a video for the song. However, a “shadily thrown” set of words between his ex-girlfriend, Ciara, and Rihanna, during an episode of E!’s Fashion Police, allegedly 86ed that opportunity for the rising rapper. 

The follow-up to Future’s debut album birthed Honest in 2014 and spawned collaborations with Kanye West, Pusha T, Pharrell, and Miley Cyrus on the promo single “Real and True.” DS2 and EVOL would soon trail his growing discography. 

The Era of Controversy:

What’s life without a challenge, right? While no public figure is usually without a little controversy or scandal, good PR can always come in handy. Most of the time, anyway. The question isn’t whether or not human error will be exposed or how the main attraction reacts to it, but more so how the backlash may impact one’s career.

In the African American community, despite the populous of his music, Future received massive criticism for fathering four children with four different women: India J, Jessica Smith, Brittni Mealy, and Ciara, who would later wed Seattle Seahawks QB Russell Wilson. 

"I Put In Overtime Inside This Vocal Booth" -Future

While India J was mostly absent from Future’s baby momma public conflict, that didn’t stop other circumstances from surfacing. Smith filed a lawsuit against Future for unpaid child support, Mealy was often seen with Future on social media after his failed relationship with Ciara, sparking rekindling rumors, yet it was Ciara who became a focal point in the urban gossip blogosphere. 

The relationship of the former couple, who got engaged following the birth of their only child, Future Zahir Wilburn, quickly found its way to an early grave. Reports back in August 2016 surfaced that Ciara left the engagement amid allegations that Future stepped out on their relationship with his stylist. Though he denied the allegations, he didn’t shy away from openly addressing his side.

In a candid clip posted via Vevo, Future was asked why he didn’t marry Ciara, replying, “I want to marry you but can't have no big wedding on E! News. I can't have all these big-ass media outlets cover my wedding and I'm not comfortable. I'm not even comfortable with the people in here. I'm not comfortable where I'm at in my career. I'm not comfortable about compromising—being the person that I am, being the man I am. I feel like my better judgment is to go back to record and make better music ... I felt like I knew what I was doing. I said it.”

While the battle between Ciara and Future was far from over, it was just one of the many things brought to the public following their relationship. Rocko, who signed Future to A1 Recordings before he tied the knot with Epic Records, sued the “Big Rube” rapper for $10 million for breach of contract. Reportedly, Rocko believed that once Future signed with Epic, he intentionally kept Rocko from the monies that he felt he was owed. A lawsuit and countersuit soon followed during which Future called Rocko “a con artist.” 

Not shying away from a defensive platform via Instagram, Rocko clapped back, saying, “Future and I could’ve sat down like men and settled this easily ages ago. Not sure what his reasons were, but I respect it. Only reason there’s even a lawsuit in place is because he said to let the lawyers handle it. Homie works hard and is very talented and deserves all of his success. I will always support my boy regardless! Pre-order his album.” 

The “high road” tactic that Rocko seemingly used with good intentions did nothing to ease the discord of the war of words. Perhaps being the “bigger man” is often overrated to some because at the end of the day, we can’t change the outcome with people or the cycle of changeable emotions. As of now, there have been no further reports on the legal dispute between the two.

No great success story for any man lacks prideful moments on the journey to achieve and build his own, but Future’s reign has deemed him one of the most popular and demanded rappers of today. Someone once said, “Success is not final, failure is not fatal. It is the courage to continue that counts.” If that “courage” continues in being a rap hit-maker, Future’s future looks mighty bright. 

Be sure to check out Future for the Nobody Safe tour at Champions Square on Saturday, May 6. 

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