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Future: Landing on 'Pluto'

©Epic Records
Future (©Epic Records)

The writer behind a contagious rap smash steps out on his own

By Kathy Iandoli
Special to MSN Music

Last year's summer anthem "Racks" by YC, was an accidental hit. Just ask the writer of the song, Future, who penned the cut, rapped the contagious hook and donated a verse. From that one single came multiple freestyles from various rappers, including Lil Wayne, Wiz Khalifa, Twista and U.K. crossover Tinie Tempah. The replication didn't stop there, as Future's "Magic," "Tony Montana" and "Same Damn Time" got the remix treatment from rappers like Rick Ross and Gucci Mane.

For the Atlanta-based rapper -- born Nayvadius Wilburn, and now legally named Nayvadius Cash -- those variations paved the way for a solo career that's hardly an accident. With his debut album, "Pluto," gaining momentum, a tour on the horizon and new projects in the works, Future breaks down how he balances writing rhymes for other people. Often imitated, never duplicated, Future is shaping up to be in a class by himself.

MSN Music: So how do you feel about the success of "Pluto"?

Future: I feel good just to bring the album out. For me to release an album is a step in the right direction, and you take it to the next level.

When you wrote "Racks" for YC, did you have any idea that writing that song for somebody else and being part of it would pull you out as the star of the song?

Well, somewhat, I thought it would pull me out, but when I was actually doing it, it felt like it backfired on me. I wasn't getting the credit I thought I deserved at the time. But I just worked and kept fighting through it and made sure that I did it for the right reasons. I knew why I did it, and I did things the right way, stuck to the formula, and it worked out.

At what point did you realize that you were going somewhere with this? That this music thing was pretty serious and you were going to be a star?

Um, man ... I still haven't felt like it. I'm not gonna lie. I feel like I'm in a great position, but superstar status is something that I feel, but, you know, like, to me, there's certain things that I got to achieve and accomplish before I feel like that I'm just this total superstar.

Bing: "Tony Montana" and other Future videos

Did you have any idea that songs like "Magic," "Same Damn Time," and of course "Racks" and "Tony Montana," would prompt so many different artists to start remixing the tracks and freestyling over them?

The way it happened with "Racks," I didn't understand it. I definitely didn't. The song was too big for the artist at the time, so people wanted to try and make it their song. That's one of the real hits, when another artist -- like a big-time artist already -- feels like it's supposed to be their song. They want to get on it and damn near take it from you or whatever. Or a slick, like, subliminal ... get on it and make it their song and try to get more spins out of it at the end of the day and just staying relevant. It happens. I was used to it, like everybody rapping on "Tony Montana." I know what kind of music that I'm making. I'm a trendsetter. I could take that and run with it.

Does it get annoying, though, that in hip-hop, you can release a song on a Monday and by Thursday, you have 10 artists trying to rap over it?

Man, I don't understand it, but at the end of the day, it's complementing the music that I'm making. Every song that I do, somebody raps on it. There's not a song I ever put out nobody really hasn't rapped on it if it came on the radio. If they don't want me to write for them, they want to rap on my song. I salute everybody who rapped on my song, because they're pushing me in the right direction. They're showing that I'm doing something right. After I put out [my next album]"Super Future" and then drop [a third full-length] "Future Hendrix," I'm just going to put all my energy into these albums and then I'm focusing more on writing. But in the meantime, in between time, I still write them hooks, you know? I've been writing them for Kanye, for Jadakiss, Fabolous, Odd Future, Tyler the Creator, Ciara, it doesn't matter. Lloyd, I just wrote this Lloyd single too. The singer, Lloyd. I'm writing stuff for him.

How do you know what you want to give another artist and what you want to keep for yourself?

Yeah, that's the hardest decision when you're a writer. That's something you can't control: what you want to give to the artist and what you want to keep for yourself. When you're in the studio and you make a song for them, you're like "I want to keep it for me." But as a writer, you got to live up to your word, so you have to give it to them. Just like the situation with "Racks." When I did the song, I knew it was a hot song. I knew it was a hit and everybody told me, "Man, take it away from him!" and do this and do this. But I know I'm a man of integrity. I didn't take it back.

Bing: Check out photos of Future

Were there any versions of your songs that artists have rapped over that you were like, "Damn, I wish I said that!"

No. I was like, "Man, why did they do that?"

What's next? Are you back in the studio, or are working the singles off "Pluto" for a while in between touring?

I'm always in the studio. I'm recording "Super Future" right now and "Super Hendrix." I'm writing for a lot of different artists. I got this new Pusha T single he's about to release. I just wrote this Waka Flocka record he put on his album. I'm not even doing verses. You got to understand, what I'm doing. I'm telling them, "Man, I don't even want to say the hook. Give me my publishing." That's how I am. I'm not a greedy person. You don't even got to mention me in interviews or nothing, man! As long as we're understood, I respect you as an artist, you respect me, it ain't even about that at the end of the day. I want the music to be out there: the ultimate goal for what I'm really trying to do. I want my music to be heard worldwide no matter who's singing it or who's rapping it.

Kathy Iandoli has written for publications including The Source, YRB, BUST, XXL,VIBE, RIME and Vapors, and her work has appeared online at MTV, AOL and MSN Music sites. She is the former Alternatives editor of AllHipHop.com and the current music editor of HipHopDX.com.

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