"This sets the tone for everything that's about to come. I feel like this is my first album that's really going to touch the people in the right way." Atlanta rapper Future has just woken up, but he's eager to discuss his second record, Future Hendrix, for which he's been logging major hours in the studio to complete for a release sometime in 2013.
"Everything about the music I want to be taking to the next level," he says over the phone. "It's got to be all the way right, because the quality of the music has to live up to my expectations."
When it comes to influences, Future says he was inspired by the legendary Jimi Hendrix's talent and uniqueness as an artist. "He was a gifted individual. He just stayed who he was and eventually it paid off," he says. While we shouldn't expect any guitar solos from the rapper, he has mentioned collaborating with Kanye West, Rihanna, Pharrell, Timbaland and more, though he's tight-lipped about what big names will make the final cut.
"I can't say who's going to be on there, because I'm still making the album," he says. "I'm just working every day so I can get prepared for whatever date they say I need to have it ready for."
To tide his fans over until Future Hendrix drops, he recently released the mixtape F.B.G.: The Movie, which features guest verses from Drake, Wale, Lil Wayne and Busta Rhymes, along with members of his Free Bandz Gang crew. Future also sees it as a chance to introduce the up-and-coming "family" of rappers that he's working with, including Atlanta's Casino and Baltimore's Test.
The mixtape also features production from Mike WiLL Made It, the rising Atlanta beatmaker behind some of the biggest hit singles of 2012 (Kanye West's "Mercy," Juicy J's "Bandz a Make Her Dance," 2 Chainz's "No Lie"). "Me and Mike clicked from day one," says the rapper. "We just showed each other how much passion we had for the music in the studio. He's always looking for new ways to challenge himself, and I'm always looking for new ways to challenge myself."
It's this same desire to go above and beyond that inspired the title of his debut record, last year's Pluto. "You know how people say the sky's the limit? I wanted to go beyond that," says the rapper about the album's title and interplanetary lyrics. "It's a CD now, not just a planet. Ten years, 20 years from now or whatever, everybody is going to be able to relate to it from my generation and on. They're going to be able to say, 'Pluto – I know about the Future CD,' even in classrooms when they're teaching up Pluto in the discussion." He adds that he's thought about attending a space camp, "just to understand and learn about it."
While the original version sold a comparatively modest 41,000 copies in its first week of release, bolstered by heavy radio play and positive reviews, the album was re-released in November as a deluxe edition (Pluto 3D) with several new songs and remixes. Shortly after, Future made his second appearance of the year on Jimmy Kimmel Live, performing his "Neva Eva" remix with Kelly Rowland. He also wrote, produced and contributed vocals to Rihanna's "Loveeeee Song," which is featured on the Barbadian pop star's latest album, Unapologetic.
"That definitely opened me up to a new audience," says the rapper, who isn't shy about expressing his goal of winning a Grammy Award or two one day: "I'm not trying to be put in categories. I'm a trailblazer, and the awards will come."