Hip hop star Future keeps Atlanta’s music industry in national spotlight

By David Pendered

Atlanta’s newest music ambassador is a hip hop artist from the Kirkwood neighborhood whose photo appeared this month on a section front of The New York Times.

Future. Credit: futurefreebandz.com

Future. Credit: futurefreebandz.com

At a time the region is receiving little in the way of good news coverage from media around the nation, the performer known as Future is keeping the city’s music industry in the national spotlight.

Future’s photo appeared this month in The New York Times with a 1,000-word story about Atlanta’s ever-changing hip hop scene. On March 2, Future will appear as a headline act in the 20th annual 9 Mile Music Festival, at Miami’s Virginia Key Beach – a beach where blacks could gather during the segregation era.

The Times described Future as an “innovator in digital voice processing.” And it portrayed the city’s hip hop industry as a business without boundaries:

  • “Years ago Atlanta took control of hip-hop’s center, both geographically and sonically. But as the hub of the genre, it’s been a steadily moving target, far more volatile than New York or Los Angeles ever were in their heyday. Trap music, snap music, strip club anthems: Atlanta can be almost anything it sets its mind to.”

The Nine Mile Music Festival was started by the mother of Bob Marley, the legendary reggae star, and once was called the Caribbean Music Festival. Now it bears the name of the town in Jamaica where Marley was born and interred, with his guitar, in a marble mausoleum.

The festival’s website describes Future as a trendsetter:

“The man born Navyvadius Cash is ready to dominate the charts as the 25-year-old Atlanta native’s classic mixtapes have put the streets and clubs in his clutches with his first single, ‘Tony Montana.’”

The website includes a link to Future’s website, which has all the razzle dazzle to be expected from Sony Music Entertainment. Future’s debut studio album was released through Epic Records, which is one of Sony’s premier labels.

Biographical materials published about Future show a swift rise from obscurity to prominence.

Early on, Future is described as a product of Atlanta’s Zone 6. That would stand for the police zone that covers the region around the corner of I-20 and Moreland Avenue.

One aspect that stands out about that geographic placement is that it’s not SWAT, or southwest Atlanta, which was such a distinctive locale a decade ago. Zone 6 encompasses the city’s up and coming urban residential neighborhoods – East Atlanta, Grant Park, Kirkwood, Old Fourth Ward, Virginia Highland.

In those early days, of 2011, Future presents all the breathlessness of a young hopeful, albeit one with connections to the Dungeon Family – which helped launch Outkast and Goodie Mob:

  • “I got the nickname Future from the Dungeon Family. My dog G-Rock used to always tell me, ‘You’re the future, you’re the future. You’re young, man. Keep dreamin’ and settin’ new goals and achieving new goals and just reach to the top and stay at the top.’ “

By the time the BET Hip Hop Awards ceremony was held in October at the Atlanta Civic Center, Future was featured in a video about his past in Atlanta and his half-time performance at a Falcons game.

 

About David Pendered

David Pendered, Managing Editor, is an Atlanta journalist with nearly 30 years experience reporting on the region’s urban affairs, from Atlanta City Hall to the state Capitol. Since 2008, he has written for print and digital publications, and advised on media and governmental affairs. Previously, he spent more than 26 years with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution and won awards for his coverage of schools and urban development. David graduated from North Carolina State University and was a Western Knight Center Fellow. David was born in Pennsylvania, grew up in North Carolina and is married to a fifth-generation Atlantan.
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