Future has the streets of Atlanta in the palm of his hands while the city’s history pumps through his veins.
Though Future is from Atlanta, his St. Louis show at the club Amnesia, billed as a signing party, was a homecoming of sorts. The city was the first to crown him a star, allotting radio spins for “Notice Me” off his first mixtape, 1000, released in the summer of 2010. Since 1000, Future has delivered mixtapes in an abundance that would seem altogether counterproductive if not for the amount of underground hits each has birthed. On October 30th, for a crowd in equal parts street clothes and Halloween costumes, he did his best to cover them all, jumping from the ambitious “Notice Me” to the audacious “Watch This” to the jubilant “Racks” to the riotous “Same Damn Time,” performing some songs two and three times, ultimately commanding the mic for nearly an hour.
But Future’s performance was sabotaged by either incapable speakers or faulty wiring, one of which (or both) caused the sound to drop out sporadically, sound that was already distorted by the harrowing dog whistle of microphone feedback. For all this disruption though, Future remained cool, doing his very best to account for Amnesia’s shortcomings. His poise seemed remarkable for an artist with such limited exposure, but he’s been groomed by some of the finest minds hip-hop has ever produced.
Future’s cousin is legendary Organized Noize member and Dungeon Family mastermind Rico Wade, largely responsible for the careers of Outkast and Goodie Mob. By the time they were introduced at a family member’s funeral, Future was already rapping and had recorded (as a 14-year-old) with the full-grown adults he was hanging out with. “My granddaddy was like, ‘My grandson is into the streets, he needs to get out,’” Future says, mimicking his grandfather’s pitch to Wade. “You know how your granddaddy is, ‘See what you can do with him…’” Wade, then well established as a musical innovator and architect of the late ’90s Atlanta renaissance, invited his little cousin to his home studio for a session. “I did the song and never came back,” Future says. “He was working with Bubba Sparxxx at the time and ‘Ugly’ just dropped. Bubba was doing good, Outkast was working on they third album, Cee Lo’s doing good— everybody in the Dungeon. And then out the blue, your cousin, who’s 17, is gon’ say he raps? When you’re famous, everybody that’s your cousin calls up.” Another couple of months passed before the two would reunite, again at a funeral. Future summoned the courage to approach Wade himself and was surprised to learn that Wade had been playing the unfinished song, to promising reception, for other members of the Dungeon Family. Wade invited him back to the studio for another session and this time the young rapper made sure to take advantage. “I went to the house and did another song called ‘Trapstar,’” Future says. “Right after I did that song, I just never left. I never went back to Kirkwood for like three to four months.”