Atlanta rapper Future aims for honesty

For more music news and video of the interview with Future, visit The Music Scene blog at AccessAtlanta.com.

Future plops his lanky frame into a chair, shades on and a tangle of two-toned dreadlocks tucked under a knit cap.

“Let’s talk,” he drawls, as a cloud of smoke swirls in the studio lights above his head.

The 30-year-old Atlanta rapper is feeling a bit sluggish on this late March afternoon. He’s just arrived at Triangle Studios, a gated complex in an industrial area of the city, after pulling an all-nighter working and only a few more hours removed from returning from New York. There, among his media stops, he regaled talk show host Wendy Williams with stories about his Kirkwood upbringing and songs from his anticipated second album, “Honest,” which arrived on Tuesday.

At first he frets that his outfit — camouflage shirt, hip black jacket, gold-winged boots — isn’t suitable, good enough, for the video component of the interview (which you can see on AccessAtlanta.com). But eventually he relents in a soft-spoken mumble.

Aside from his deep love of music, Future’s other interest is fashion, and his look is something he takes seriously. He also seems sincere about his third love, Ciara, the Atlanta R&B-hip-hop-soul star whom he will marry this year — after she gives birth to their first child together (Future has three other children with three different women).

“Man, she’s craaazy,” Future says with a soft laugh when asked about his fiancee. Getting Future to elaborate on their relationship, or even how they met (“Through music … music is what brought us together,” he says in a tone that suggests the answer should be obvious) proves challenging.

But one listen to the “Honest” track, “I Won,” and fans can glean all they need to know about the couple’s chemistry.

“When I’m with you, I feel like a champion … I won me a trophy,” he offers in a slightly Auto-Tuned croon over a loping beat (the song’s guest, Kanye West, takes a different approach with a much more crass verse about Kim Kardashian and, naturally, himself).

Future, who spent his teen years hanging around cousin Rico Wade and his Organized Noise production outlet that yielded hits from Outkast, Goodie Mob and TLC, named his new album “Honest” for the simple reason that he wanted this batch of songs to present an unvarnished side of himself.

“My day one fans — my fans from my mix tape days — know my life now. They know where I’ve been. You don’t want to have a disconnection with those fans. You have to give them all of you because they feel like they’ve known you,” says the man born Nayvadius Wilburn. His moniker was bestowed on him by G-Rock, a member of Atlanta’s storied Dungeon Family rap collective.

Future isn’t merely towing the party line when he mentions the importance of his fans. At an album listening event a few weeks ago at Halo lounge in Midtown, the rapper remained happily ensconced in an upstairs alcove where he posed for an endless string of selfies with smartphone-wielding devotees.

He understands loyalty and is keen to return it.

One of the highlights among the 18 tracks on “Honest” is Future’s collaboration with Outkast’s Andre 3000 on “Benz Friendz (Whatchutola),” a song that boasts a crisp, skittering beat and Andre’s distinctive nasal flow.

Future popped up during Outkast’s hyped return earlier this month at Coachella (the duo makes its anticipated Georgia homecoming on Sunday at the CounterPoint Music and Arts Festival at Kingston Downs) to perform the song with Andre, whom he considers a mentor.

It was the first time the two worked together, and, during the two months it took to construct “Benz,” Future learned the art of patience from one of the undisputed kings of Southern hip-hop.

“He was always giving me some game and I was a student of the game when I was around him,” Future says. “He’d teach me so much about music. I knew it, but I didn’t know the way to use it. I love the way he works. Some days we’d just talk. Some days we’d just listen to the beat and brainstorm about what we’d want to do with the track. So we really built it from scratch together.”

While Future and Ciara will spend some of their married life in New York and Los Angeles, they have no plans of abandoning Atlanta, where Future’s family still lives.

“Yeah, they’re still here. Where they gonna go?” he asks no one in particular. He breaks into a cackle, but then his face turns serious. “Before I did music, we had nothing. I never even had seen (cousin) Rico until I was 16. He’s a father figure to me now. He’s always been there for me.”

Future will hit the road in May for a three-month U.S. tour (he’ll play Atlanta on June 14 at a venue to-be-determined), then he’s off to Australia in August and Europe in September.

“The time goes by so fast,” Future says, pausing for a few seconds of introspection as he fiddles with his phone. “I’ve got the whole year planned out already.”

Then he flashes a small smile. “It’s a blessed situation. It ain’t nothing to complain about.”

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