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Rapper Future is happy with his present state of affairs

Digital First Media, @GraffonMusic

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Future's new album, "Honest," didn't exactly turn out as he planned when he started making it last year.

But that may have been for the better.

The Atlanta rapper's sophomore full-length debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard Top R&B/Hip Hop Albums and Top Rap Albums charts when it was released in April, as well as No. 2 on the Billboard 200 -- all better than its predecessor, 2012's "Pluto." It's so far sprung the single "Move That Dope" (with Pharrell and others) and the Kanye West-featuring "I Won."

Most importantly it's made Future an even hotter commodity in the present than he's ever been to this point.

"Yeah, man, people are being very awesome about this," says Future, 30, who was born Nayvadius Wilburn and is the cousin of the Dungeon Family`s Rico Wade. "I feel like you've got to go with your heart. You've got to make the best music possible for yourself. You can't settle for what you think is gonna be right; you just do what you feel IS gonna be right and just make the best music you can make."

That philosophy meant a sea change during the making of "Honest," however.

Coming off the reputation-making success of "Pluto," a couple of well-received mixtapes -- "F.B.G.: The Movie" and "Black Woodstock" -- with his Freeband gang and guest appearances on songs by Justin Bieber, Miley Cyrus, Rick Ross, Flo Rida, B.o.B., Tyga and others, Future started work on a set he intended to call "Future Hendrix," a progressive exercise that was taking his music in a variety of different directions. He liked it, but Future felt some misgivings, too.

"The process was difficult," he says. "Just listening back to certain songs, I felt like there were things I was missing. So when I got off tour I was able to go back into the studio and work on new music, and the music took a turn for the best, I felt.

"I feel like ('Honest') reaches my core fans, the ones who have been supporting me from day one with my mixtapes and who loved 'Pluto' and all that. I didn't want them to feel like now that I'm showcasing my writing skills and I'm doing a Miley Cyrus album that I'm gonna just do more songs that are different and not give the down-home hip-hop fans that ride with me the more club-breaking records they want."

"Honest," then, follows the "Pluto" model but with, Future feels, a bit more sophistication and growth gleaned over the years. He wants his shows to reflect that, too, with more talking to complement the rapping he does during the night.

"There's going to be a lot of breakdowns, me explaining where I was at when I was making the music," says Future, who last week had his fourth child, a son, and first with current girlfriend, singer Ciara. "The (show) is more like a listening session, 'cause I'm gonna be able to give people details, song by song, to let them know the space that I was in and what made me record those songs. It's gonna be me connecting with the fans to a better understanding about the music."

And he hopes that will provide a bridge that will let him return to "Future Hendrix" and bring it out to a more tuned-in audience.

"Yes, 'Future Hendrix' will happen one day," promises Future, who also appears on the new album by Swedish electro-pop group Little Dragon. "I'm not sure when, but it'll happen. I'm just trying to make the music, y'know? I have a lot of material and I'm just trying to figure out the best way to go about it. I just want to continue to be able to make great music, nothing else."

Future performs Thursday, May 29, at the Crofoot Ballroom, 1 S. Saginaw St., Pontiac. Doors open at 7 p.m. Tickets are $29.50 in advance, $35 day of show. Call 248-858-9333 or visit www.thecrofoot.com

Web Site: www.thecrofoot.com

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