Known for a uniquely fluid and melodic yet mumbling vocal style, rapper Future busted out of the South at the dawn of the 2010s with a flurry of mixtapes, high-charting albums, certified platinum singles, and contributions to several other hits as a featured artist. After he scored his first commercial hit via a guest spot on YC’s “Racks” (2011), Future quickly became a key factor in Atlanta’s grip on the Billboard charts, often with production support from fellow ATL natives and dwellers such as Metro Boomin, Mike WiLL Made-It, Sonny Digital, and Southside. By the end of 2017, Future had amassed 32 Top Ten R&B/hip-hop hits as a headliner and featured artist. Meanwhile, 11 full-length projects — including an all-platinum run of DS2 (2015), Evol (2016), and Future (2017) — debuted within the Top Five of the Billboard 200. Future capped off the 2010s by adding to his Top 20 tally with the Grammy-winning “King’s Dead,” co-producing a remake of Super Fly, and hitting the top of the Billboard 200 again with The Wizrd (2019). He has since returned to the throne with High Off Life (2020), his eighth proper album.
Born Nayvadius Wilburn, Future grew up in his city’s Zone 6 section with roots in the ATL’s Dungeon Family, who dubbed him “the Future.” Mentored by cousin and fellow Dungeon Family member Rico Wade of the revered Organized Noize, Future released his first mixtapes in 2010 and early 2011, which left him poised for a mainstream breakthrough. A few months after the January 2011 release of his third mixtape, Future was featured on YC’s “Racks,” a single that bubbled up to the Top Ten of Billboard’s Hot R&B/Hip-Hop chart. Shortly thereafter, the rapper signed with major label Epic, and “Tony Montana,” his proper debut single, subsequently peaked just outside the Top 20. Its parent album, Pluto, landed the following April and debuted at number two on the Billboard 200, supported by the number two R&B/hip-hop hit “Turn on the Lights,” which earned Future his first RIAA platinum certification. No new studio albums were released in 2013, but Future’s year was productive as a guest artist. He appeared on four Top Ten R&B/hip-hop hits that went either gold or platinum: Lil Wayne’s “Love Me,” Ace Hood’s “Bugatti,” Rich Gang’s “Tapout,” and Rocko’s “U.O.E.N.O.” He also appeared on a remix of “Body Party” by Ciara, who became his fiancée that October.
Future’s second full-length album, Honest, was issued in April 2014. It earned both critical acclaim and popular success and peaked at number two. Two singles from the album, “Move That Dope” (featuring Pharrell, Pusha T, and Casino) and “I Won” (co-produced by frequent collaborator Metro Boomin and featuring Kanye West), went gold. A few months after the album’s release, Future and Ciara’s split was made public. Late 2014 and early 2015 brought three mixtapes and another hit single, “Fuck Up Some Commas.” They primed Future fans for third album DS2, which debuted at number one in July 2015. Only two months later, What a Time to Be Alive, a mixtape collaboration with Drake, reached the same spot.
In early 2016, Future released Evol, which arrived unannounced but still debuted at number one on the Billboard 200. Its single “Low Life,” a collaboration with the Weeknd, quickly went double platinum. In November of that year, Future issued another Drake-assisted hit, “Used to This,” from his Beast Mode 16 mixtape. The roll continued through 2017 with a pair of full-lengths, Future and HNDRXX. Issued during consecutive weeks that February, the two albums kept Future’s streak of number ones intact, while the former, featuring the Top Ten pop hit “Mask Off,” became the rapper’s third consecutive platinum solo full-length. Later that year, he hopped onto Ty Dolla $ign’s “Don’t Judge Me” with Swae Lee before issuing Super Slimey, a joint effort with Young Thug.
Future followed with a pair of soundtrack contributions in 2018. First, he joined Jay Rock, Kendrick Lamar, and James Blake for a hit single from the Black Panther soundtrack, “King’s Dead,” and a few months later released “No Shame” from Superfly. He not only contributed to the soundtrack but presented it as well, and was among the film’s co-producers. Future started 2019 with the release of his seventh album, The Wizrd, which became his fifth solo chart-topper (and sixth overall). The set featured appearances by Young Thug and Gunna, while Travis Scott assisted “First Off,” one of its three charting singles. Less than a month after the release of that album, Future won a Grammy for Best Rap Performance for his contribution to “King’s Dead.” He returned later in 2019 with the darker and more pained Save Me, a seven-track EP that reached number five.
Future got an early start on the new decade in January 2020 with “Life Is Good,” another Drake collaboration. The single became his second Top Ten pop hit as a headliner and reached quadruple-platinum status by the time he issued High Off Life in May. Originally intended to be titled after the preceding hit — Future opted to go with a less contentious title due to the COVID-19 pandemic — High Off Life entered the Billboard 200 at number one. Among its follow-up singles were “Tycoon” and “Trillionaire,” the latter featuring YoungBoy Never Broke Again. Before the year was over, Future teamed up with Lil Uzi Vert for the collaborative album Pluto x Baby Pluto. The record was released in November 2020 and debuted at number two on the Billboard chart. Future remained relatively quiet in 2021, but he returned in February 2022 with “Worst Day,” a downbeat anti-Valentine’s Day cut. ~ David Jeffries & Andy Kellman