The legendary Atlanta studio, Stankonia, is in a non-descript building in the same neighborhood where Sean Garrett, Ne-Yo, even Usher have an office nearby. Driving by, you would never know it was there. The only thing that sets it apart is that you are more likely to see a candy-painted Cutlass on 24’s parked out front than a luxury car. And on Tuesday, April 3, Stankonia was the scene of a hot private party celebrated the newest toast of the town, Future.
Future, who is the cousin of Dungeon Family producer Rico Wade (hence the location), began his ascent to rap superstardom only two short years ago. From 2010 to early 2011, Future released three mixtapes, 1000, Dirty Sprite, and True Story, which featured the single, “Tony Montana,” garnering him mainstream success, in addition to his feature appearance on the hit radio single, “Racks,” by YC.
Future’s rise to fame is almost textbook – he put out hot music, kept his name hot in the streets, built a fanbase, and the labels came calling. In September 2011, Future became the first rap artist to be signed by L.A. Reid under his new tenure as chairman of Epic Records. The signing made sense for Future, who was being courted by several labels at the time, because his cousin Rico worked with L.A., and the industry veteran also signed his best friend and business partner, Rocko, while at Def Jam.
Future, however, kept releasing music, including Freebricks (with Gucci Mane), Streetz Calling, and Astronaut Status.
AllHipHop.com hung out with Future, Big Boi, DJ Drama, Julia Beverly of Ozone Magazine, and a bunch of other DJs and fans at the private listening session for Pluto, which debuts on April 17. Between our free food and free drinks, here’s what we heard:
“The Future is Now” featuring Big Rube: Like Jay-Z once said about Ron Isley, “Just the sound of his voice is a hit.” The same is true for Atlanta rapper and producer, Big Rube. His spoken word art has been featured on Def Poetry Jam and the movie ATL. On Future’s album, he drops gems like, “4 billion miles away/ do a whole week in a day.” The song sets a good tone for the album.
“Parachute” featuring R. Kelly: Hearing this song, the first thing you think is, “Is that R. Kelly?” The song is a hard rap song that has a beat with a sort of Caribbean, almost Rihanna type flavor. As the bass bounced off the multiple house speakers, one partygoer remarked, “Oh my God.” Yeah.
“Straight Down”: This song, like most on the album, doesn’t deviate from Future’s proven formula of rapping about money, drugs, and light-skinned girls who wear nice shoes. The line “I got your attitude on Venus/I got you ready to catch my semen” sort of made us spit out our Heineken.
“Astronaut Chick”: Future appeals to young women. In fact, we know a young woman with an MBA who is a big fan and listens to his mixtapes every morning on the way to her corporate job. “And we gon blast off like a rocket when the time’s right,” the hook states, and Future has perfected the art of the hook. He is poised to be the next king of ringtones.
“Magic Remix” featuring T.I.: Future stated that this song was the first song that T.I. jumped on upon his release from prison. The remix demonstrates Future’s ability to make a hook that is so catchy it makes you have to move. If you live in Atlanta, you have had a night like this. If you don’t, listening to this song will help you understand why we love it so much.
“I’m Trippin’” featuring Juicy J: Juicy J is having a resurgence in his career outside of Three-Six Mafia due to his hardcore rap skill and respect in the underground. On this song, he brings out the best in Future who leaves alone the auto-tune and delivers one of his better verses.
“Truth Gonna Hurt You”: True to his career thus far, Future follows a proven formula on his album. There are dope boy songs, strip club anthems, songs for girls to party to, and the sincere, introspective song. This is the latter. The song is about Future and his life, and it’s decent.
“Neva End”: We have no notes about this song, so we are guessing that it wasn’t that great. But, almost every rap album has a weak link.
“Tony Montana” featuring Drake: Future stated that this song and its video were a “movie,” which he shot in the Dominican Republic. Drake did not appear in the video, but lays down a hot verse for the song. The song, which is a lyrical recap of the movie Scarface, is a fun one to listen to, and made a great buzz single originally on the mixtape, True Story.
“Permanent Scar”: Another song where Future does not use Auto-Tune, this is a good and introspective song.
“Same Damn Time”: A hit record and a catchphrase, “Same Damn Time,” is burning up the radio and a song that people get hype to in the club. It goes hard and rattles windows.
The last four songs on the album, “Long Life the Pimp” featuring Trae the Truth, and “Homicide” featuring Snoop Dogg, “Turn on the Lights”, and “You Deserve It” are all decent records. “Homicide” is one of Snoop’s better feature appearances. Future remarked that he got a phone call from his manager who stated, “Snoop got you one,” referring to his appearance on the album. The album does tend to get repetitive, but Future never claimed to be an extraordinary lyricist. What makes his album are hard, driving, bass beats and catchy hooks that are in their own way mesmerizing.
Upon first listen, we give Pluto a 7.5 out of 10. It’s a fantasy ride to a faraway place, and we had a blast on our journey. Check for it on April 17.