''Pluto' is just [me] being creative. It's bigger than life,' Future says.
Though his name might suggest otherwise, Future  isn't a newbie. The younger cousin of Rico Wade, co-founder of rap and production collectives Dungeon Family and Organized Noize ( TLC , OutKast , Goodie Mob ), Future has already released nine mixtapes and scored at least a couple of hits, including an appearance on YC 's top 10 Billboard Hot 100 track from last year, "Racks." Originally expected earlier this year, Future's major-label debut, "Pluto," arrives tomorrow (April 17) as the first rap release to appear on Epic since Antonio "L.A." Reid stepped in as chairman/CEO in July.
For Future, who signed to Epic last fall, joining the re-formed label under Reid felt like the perfect way to launch his career. "If you sign to a major label, you don't want to be on a big roster and be forgotten about," says the 25-year-old rapper born Navyvadius Cash. "So just having that support is key."
Of course, it doesn't hurt that Reid helped usher in a wave of Dungeon Family hits, first as founder of LaFace Records and then as president of Arista (including the bulk of OutKast's career, from its 1994 debut to the Grammy Award-winning 2004 double album "Speakerboxxx/The Love Below"). But Benny Pough, executive VP of urban music at Epic, insists that Future earned his deal by virtue of his own merit, not family ties.
"What Future exudes himself is what got him signed," Pough says. "It's great that he's a prodigy of the Dungeon Family, but Future, like all of the guys, is an independent star."
"Pluto" is out to prove just that. After generating enough buzz in the latter part of 2011 to land appearances on the covers of the Fader and XXL's annual Freshmen issue thanks to "Racks" and his own Hot 100 hit, "Tony Montana," which originally appeared on his True Story mixtape and featured chart-topping Young Money/Cash Money rapper Drake  (peaking at No. 22 after 29 weeks on the chart), Future has maintained his momentum as he's geared up for his album's release.
His most recent hit, "Magic" (featuring T.I. ), is No. 10 on the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart, with sales of 201,000 copies, according to Nielsen SoundScan. His most recent single, "Same Damn Time," continues to climb the tally. It rises 41-31 after nine weeks on the chart, selling 20,000. The album is loaded with other notable tracks and appearances including Snoop Dogg  ("Homicide") and R. Kelly  ("Parachute"). Future, who's known for his hypnotic, raspy voice; a heavy dose of Auto-Tune; and an ability to craft catchy hooks, is also making noise on DJ Drama's "We in This Bitch," which features T.I., Young Jeezy  and Ludacris . It's No. 69 on the Hot 100.
Future will support "Pluto" by hitting the road for a tour that begins later this spring. Meanwhile, Pough says that Epic will continue to remain focused on "keeping him branded and marketed in the streets."
As for what it all means, Future says, "'Pluto' is just [me] being creative. It's bigger than life."
- The Juice