Latin Music Week

Future: A Day in the Life At SXSW

Kyle Dean Reinford
Taking it all in

'From the beginning, I treated myself like a superstar,' the Atlanta rapper says.

Future would rather be known as a rock star, if anything. The Atlanta rapper rarely roams outside his comfort zone, his very own outer space. He chooses to stay secluded unless interacting with his fans. Having caught a late flight out to Austin on Friday (March 15) for the city’s South by Southwest festival, the rapper has just enough time to check into his hotel and prepare for his very first set at the esteemed Fader Fort.

Photos: Day in the Life of Future

On the ride over to the venue, Future spoke carefully, with his voice barely raised above a whisper. He paused several moments when speaking on his upcoming album, "Future Hendrix," which he says is about 50% complete and still in the vein of being as innovative as his debut studio album, "Pluto." Producers like Sonny Digital and Mike WILL Made It, cut their teeth making certified bangers with Future and now, as with any trend, there are copycats dropping watered down versions of his hits as, "Same Damn Time" and "Turn On the Lights."

"I set the trend. Now the sound is out there," Future tells The Juice. "I feel like we built and grew. I even showed through time why I even chose to work with those guys. I saw the potential before anybody else seen it. So that just shows the expertise of me."

"Not even to pat myself on the back, because everybody that I worked with had a chance to create outside of me, deliver and make hits," he continues, "It's got to sound fresh and new. That's why I put 'Karate Chop' out. It’s my new producer Metro, I want a new sound to be able to create over, to give the fans something new, each and every time I come out."

Having become something of a King Midas for Epic Records and LA Reid, Future hopes to delve deeper into what made him a star in the first place. Speaking on "Future Hendrix," he says, "Musically, it’s gonna be everything. I’m critiquing the pronunciation of the rawness of the material that I usually just drop creatively off the top of my dome."

"I freestyle so I just never go back in. But creatively, this time, I’mma go back into my creative thoughts and see how I can build around what I have, those elements of music, different textures to the music. I want the music to be just as big as the hook."

As we draw closer to the Fader fort, Future reverts back, almost into himself. He's short, but still jokes when asked about pre-show jitters. "Uh, no. Nervous for what? I get nervous when I go to the courtroom, 'cause it's 'their' system. It's like, 'I came for this but I don't know what y'all got [on me].'"

For the most part, Future is silent, waiting in the GMC Yukon XL until being called to the stage but only when the music is ready, he specifies. People keep coming to the car, either to be introduced or to request interviews, but Future would prefer to be left alone in his space. He needs to contemplate the details of his upcoming performance. "I wanna do what I came here for," he says, nearly annoyed, "Sometimes at a show, it’s so much politics, you could kill the green room and not the show."

His camp appear to understand his frustration and keep their distance, only touching base to ensure his comfort level and share set details. He reveals that he’s always been unyielding about too many people being present prior to a show. "Nobody can say, 'Oh, well he wasn’t like that before!" he says, "From the beginning, I treated myself like a superstar."

"I'm 'bout making hits. I'm 'bout being inspired. Like, the color of her hair," he says motioning to a pair of blue-haired girls backstage at the Fort, "That inspires me. The way they dress... Everything. [It] inspires my music and that’s what I do this for, to be inspired by something new and fresh, something that everyone may not agree with." With that statement, Future falls silent.

Once he hits the stage though, Future transforms to another being. He captivates all those packed within the Fader fort tent, including Solange Knowles. His 25-minute long set includes his most popular cuts ("Karate Chop," "Magic") and feature hooks, like Lil' Wayne's single, "Love Me."

After his set, Future heads back to the truck as the evening's surprise headliner, Usher, walks in. The R&B singer reaches around Future's security to tap his arm and the rapper is more bubbly than he's been all day. The two take pictures and exchange information before Future takes his seat in the SUV ready for dinner and pop-up performances across the city. Was his first time at Fader Fort a success? "I love what I just did," he responds.

Just then, two young ladies peer into the tinted windows from a few feet away. As soon as they recognize it's Future in the vehicle, they break into a sprint to catch up. One fan runs into the side window with a thud as the SUV stops suddenly. Future rolls his window down, but before he can even greet the girls, they scream and profess their love. He grins, thanks them and without a moment spared Future is back in space.