Future’s reached that point in life where it’s all just fallen into place. All he has to do now is keep riding the wave.
Interview: Vanessa Satten
Editor’s Note: This story originally appeared in the Spring 2020 issue of XXL Magazine, on stands now.
“I like being on the water, Future says as he cruises along the Pacific Ocean on the 125-foot, $15-million yacht, the Harley G. “It’s so peaceful. You get a chance to see so far in the sea. I always envisioned that that’s how far you can go in life, as far as you can see. You can’t even see how far the sea stretches, but at the end of the day that’s how you want to think. You want to think beyond anyone’s furthest imagination.”
Future is chilling in one of the Harley G’s several private rooms, surrounded by a ton of brand name clothing and shoes spread out all over the dark wood furniture and brown leather couch the Atlanta rapper relaxes on. He’s wearing tan and black leather pants by Rhude, a tan Prada shirt, Gucci glasses and black Rick Owens sneakers. Even though the yacht is just a rental, Future appreciates what it represents. It fits in with his current life tagline, “Life is good,” which also happens to be the name of his next album.
For Future, born Nayvadius Wilburn, right now life is pretty sweet. Over the past decade, the 35-year-old rapper has served as a hip-hop hitmaker, becoming a pivotal figure in the musical genre’s landscape. With seven solo albums and a slew of mixtapes and EPs, Future influences the new generation of rappers, dominates the charts while also collaborating with some of the biggest names in music. Most recently it’s been with his partner-in-rhyme, Drake. The two dropped the What A Time To Be Alive mixtape in 2015, and are rumored to be working on a new collabo project. Also, Future’s first single, “Life Is Good,” the title track off his new LP, features Drake and DaBaby. At press time, the record had landed at No. 2 on Billboard Hot 100 chart.
When he’s not promoting a project, Future is pretty quiet. He’s not at all the parties. He’s not big into social networking and keeps it light on Twitter and Instagram despite being a meme star himself. Most recently, the rapper and his current girlfriend Lori Harvey have each made some waves on Instagram, posting sexy shots of each other, enough to confirm their budding new relationship—a topic Future’s not too interested in delving into. Future’s a hard nut to crack anyway. He’s a bit aloof and standoffish and although he’s ultimately a nice guy, it takes a minute to get him to warm up.
On this sunny March afternoon off the coast of San Pedro, Calif.—five days before the COVID-19 outbreak is declared a pandemic by the World Health Organization—Future discusses things like his place in the game, his confidence, his career, his next steps and more, plus why his life is so damn good.
XXL: So, talk about this new project.
Future: Life Is Good. It’s about life and being good and just enjoying life. So many tragedies and catastrophes and everything is going on in the world. And you want to enjoy life, as long as you have it. Waking up, breathing, well, you want to be able to soak it all up and be appreciative for every moment on this earth, every moment that you’re living.
Is “life is good” where you want to get in life or where you already are?
“Life is good” is where I am at. Mentally, life is good, it’s just a state of mind. It’s just about being, whatever is going on good or bad, life is good, but life is precious. You only get one life, so you want to just make the most of it. Instead of complaining about certain things that you want to be, you know, you want everything to be perfect, but that’s not the situation so I want to make good for what I have going on. With me, I want to send a positive message through hard times for me or anyone else. Just always have that saying “life is good” and you can always reflect back on it. You know, cheer yourself up and put yourself in a better mood.
Did you have to figure out how to get to this point? Did you have to strive for it?
You strive for it. You don’t just wake up and be like, OK, that’s how it’s gonna go. You gotta live in the moment, for a minute. You have to observe and sit back and you calculate every step, but at the same time, you just never get lost in who you are. Just make sure you stay yourself at all times. And doing that, you always find out a different purpose or a different way to seize the moment and make things work to your advantage. Even when things are going wrong, you try and make things work to your advantage. Shedding a positive light, that’s what it’s really all about.
How would you describe this album?
This album right here defines me at a creative level. Going to the next level where you just going to the next level and always going outside the box, but still remaining true to my core fans and my core audience. It’s me trying new things. I want to remain true to self, but also true to my fans and just giving them a good project, a great project to be able to listen to, but also for different artists to be able to feed off of, create off of, come up with different ideas and just being at the forefront of just making a solid album, a solid, complete album. It’s just very important to me.
How long did you record this new album for?
I’m always recording, so it’s just about when’s the timing of putting it out. When you start narrowing everything down, like narrowing all the songs down, the theme, trying to find what’s relevant to the day and certain songs, they be old, but they be new. It’s like picking out timeless records going through the music. Just picking out the right songs and being able to create on top of the work you already done put in to make a complete body of music or a complete album.
You are one of the most influential artists of this era. Do you feel like you have gotten enough credit for that?
I feel like I get acknowledged. I am still achieving goals that I have set for myself. And if they give me too much credit now, it ain’t gonna be fair ’cause I am constantly finding ways to evolve and I feel like sometimes you can speak too soon and I don’t want nobody to speak too soon and then curse me. So, just let me work. I understand and I recognize it, but at the end of the day, I am still achieving certain goals that I set out for myself and that’s how I look at it.
Are there any newer artists today, that you see yourself in? Do you see your influence on the younger generation of artists?
I can see the impact, but I don’t really dwell on it. Other people might say more about it than me. Like I said, man, [you] always want to create, want to give your audience and your fans a body of music where they can create and they can build ideas from and they can live their life and they can go to using this album for an example for bettering they album or bettering they lifestyle. Whatever it may be. Whatever you get from it.
Do you doubt yourself? Are you always confident in everything you do in your career?
You wonder: Are you working and it’s hard or are you working too hard? Or have you worked too hard and you don’t accomplish everything you want during your lifetime or was it worth it? Should you have made another adjustment to balance it all out? To still get the family time in as well as being completely captivated in your gift, working every day, just creating a better life for everyone around you. Sometimes you can get lost in that and not find that time for yourself or that time for family. Always trying to build on it and build every opportunity.
How do you recalibrate?
Just take time, really. You got to have patience.
What keeps you going?
What keeps me going is my kids, my family, my mom, my sisters, my brother, nieces, nephews.
Life is good for all of you now?
Life is good. Always just setting that example and showing and proving that your dreams can come true.
You and Drake have hinted at making another project. Is that really happening?
We always working on music and creating with each other and we create, building off each other’s ideas, feeding each other different ideas.
Yeah, you’ve become a power duo.
Yeah, so we always gonna make music. How we put the music out—we strategically got to come out with different ways and new ways to be able to put the music out and connect with the fans in a different way, but also still feed the fans and always respect our duo.
How do you keep yourself busy? What do you do for downtime? What’s just relaxing for Future?
Relax time is just going to the beach. I just eat by the beach. I like to have lunch by the beach and like to eat dinner by the beach, sometimes.
What beaches are we talking about? California beaches or Florida beaches? Where are we going?
Man, we go to the south of France sometimes. We go to Miami, which is always good, like right here, it’s super close, Cabo, you go to Jamaica beaches, you go to Italy, they have a good beach in the Amalfi Coast.
Lately you have been a bit public with your love life. What can you tell us about that?
Um, just taking my time with everything right now, life is good. I just want to take my time with everything.
Does it bother you, the public side of people wanting that information and people wanting to know that side of your life because you have been through celebrity relationships before?
It don’t bother me. It’s just, you know, what to give and you know what not to put out or whatever it is. You still try and find those different ways to keep it private but some way to give your fans little insights into what is going on in your life. You get the people in the world who want to know, so you open up a little bit, but you got to save majority for yourself and your partner.
Have you been good at that? Have you learned along the way about how best to share yourself with the public and how to hold back?
Just keeping that spark to yourself, man. Just keep that energy. You have to protect your energy at all costs.
What do you listen to?
Lately, every time an artist drops an album, I will go through it and listen to it, scan through it or I flip through it. I listen to certain different songs and you got to get a feel of what’s going on or just give everybody a listen. When different artists drop albums, I usually download them and listen to it that day. Maybe for a week, I will ride to it or something. I download it and don’t get a chance to listen to it. I listen to it for one song, so much going on I forget to listen back to it.
You worked with Juice Wrld, who passed away this past December from a drug overdose. What were your feelings with everything that happened there?
It was heartbreaking about Juice. Still to this day, I’m heartbroke. Rest in peace to Juice Wrld. He’s a great artist. He had so much more to do.
Did you ever feel any certain kind of way about being influential to him with the drug references in your music? There is some sort of part of your music that he said influenced him.
Yeah, but it was so many people that came before me that talked about drugs from rock ’n’ roll stars to pop stars to people aware of other artists going to rehabs and aware of other artists’ overdose and there is so many other people that was a part of this world way before me. It’s just like, I probably shedded more light on it and brought more attention to it from my cadence or my charisma and the way people reacted to it, but everything I said was already talked about before me. Me having an influence on that, I just feel like…that is not my intentions. My intention was just to be me. I’m just being me and what you get from it is what you get from it, but at the same time, I wouldn’t want no one to go through anything to harm theyself or to bring death to theyself and Juice Wrld is a touchy situation. I’m heartbroken by the whole thing. My heart goes out to his family, his mom.
With the loss of Juice, Nipsey, XXXTentacion, Mac Miller and Pop Smoke and others, it feels like we have lost more rappers than ever—from murder or drug overdoses or illness. Do you feel like being a rapper is a crazy thing right now or like you’ve lost a lot of peers?
Nah, because it’s regular people that go to jail, I mean regular people that live their life and they go to work and if somebody walk in their job and just shoot them and they never thought they'd die from a gunshot. And it’s just randomly they happen to die from a gunshot. Rest in peace to anybody that ever caused or ever went through that tragedy or ever went through that problem. My heart goes out to them but at the same time, it’s like, everyone dies from a different reason. It just so happen to be a rapper or something and they just die from this way and they shed light on it and it’s just, Oh, this rapper doing this, is it an epidemic with rappers overdosing and getting murdered? It’s the streets. It's the new streets. It’s a new wave. It’s like the new theme.
It’s like, a lot more rappers than back 10 years ago. So, now a lot of things more are going to occur. It’s a lot of young rappers that's growing up super fast, that’s getting money super quick and don’t have classes on success. They don’t have a guideline on what you do when you get success or what you do when you get money. How much sleep you’re supposed to get. How much water you supposed to drink. How many drugs you don’t suppose to take. It’s like, it’s not a class, [there's no] guideline on that. You really got to maneuver on your own and become your own person or just gotta be like, your own boss, so, everything that happens, it comes from you. You got to know when to give and you got to know when to let up sometimes and detox. You got to know when enough is enough because you in control of your own destiny and you don’t want to self-destruct.
You have a solid team around you that has been around you for a while now. Do you think you lucked out having that?
Yeah, I lucked out, but I also was a person that just from the beginning valued my relationships and keep close contact with everyone from the beginning and know everybody position and know what everybody bring to the table.
How did you figure that out?
It comes natural and just observing everyone around you and just seeing what everybody position is and everybody playing they role and see how it benefits you and your career.
Did you always look at rapping as a job for you? Like, this is my professional career. This is what I actually ended up doing for a living.
From the beginning, I always treated it like it was my passion and something that I loved to do. Whatever comes from it, that’s what comes from it. I don’t want to have my mind set on something and let myself down. I just have no limits. When it comes to music, I want to create. I want to be passionate about it. I want to give it my all. I want to make sure I do everything I can in my might and my will to just make it the best and take full advantage of my gift.
Right, because if you don’t take the full advantage of it in that moment, you don’t want to look back and regret that you didn’t, right?
Don’t live with no regrets when it comes to this success.
Do you have any musical or career regrets?
Nope. Because I wouldn’t be here without anything good or bad.
So, you are not big on social. You post on Instagram here and there, but you don’t go over the top with it and not much on Twitter. How come? Is it not interesting to you?
Yeah, I’m not interested.
But people definitely regularly use you as a meme for all sorts of things. How do you feel about that?
Yeah, it’s free promotion. So anytime, every day, I am being promoted. So free promotion, you can’t ask for that. You can’t pay for free promotion. Every day they memeing you and it’s sort of like it’s a good thing that you’re always relevant.
See Exclusive Photos of Future on a Yacht for XXL Magazine's Spring 2020 Cover Story