Music by VICE

Halfway Happy: An Interview with Future

We sit down with the Atlanta rapper in Harry Houdini's mansion and talk about ghosts and the meaning of life.

by Jeff Weiss
Oct 23 2015, 1:00pm

The mansion is bathed in an occult red glow, alternately jungle-like and perfectly manicured. There are bizarre faceless angel statues and serene Buddhas. This is Harry Houdini’s estate in the Hollywood Hills, and outside of the NASA Horizons space probe photographing Pluto, few places are more appropriate to sit down and talk to Future. Sure, there’s Rico Wade’s old dungeon or Magic City, but you know what’s better than Magic City? The sometime residence of the man who defined the modern concept of magic (at least every other day other than Monday.)

If the erstwhile Ehrich Weiss (possible relation) hadn’t mastered the dark arts, then it’s very possible that we never would’ve had Future’s song, “Magic”—easily the greatest song to ever use “voila” in the hook. And no one is more sensational right now than Nayvadius Wilburn. As Jacobim Mugatu once said, he’s “so hot right now he could take a crap, wrap it in tinfoil, put a couple fish hooks on it and sell it to Queen Elizabeth as a Drake mixtape.”

Or in this instance, he could take an old Western Stetson hat, call it a “Future hat,” and start his own haberdashery line, whose launch is the main reason why we’re on the property of the magician murdered by impromptu abdominal punch. There’s a Freebandz Coat Drive box too, in case you want to donate your Burberry Peacoat to an underprivileged plug in need. The concert is sponsored by Bacardi, so there’s a rum-based beverage called DS2. I drink four of them before my blood sugar levels get so high that I fear a swarm of mosquitos. Printed in all caps on a wall is the credo: “Invest in Your Hustle” -Future.

After all, Future is genuinely inspiring for those who agree that the devil is real. He’s become the patron saint of savagery. When you listen to 56 Nights, Beast Mode, DS2, you become possessed by supernatural strength to fuck up commas, your relationships, and any remaining shred of decency or willpower. But provided you never take them out of rotation, there will be no consequences for any of your actions.

Ask Future, our Icarus * who survived to flourish again—flying too close to the sun, nearly burning up, become a monster, and recovering from his wounds through the powers of promethazine, hedonism, and ten-gallon hats. So it floats when you’re the youngest child of the Dungeon Family, absorbing Andre’s extraterrestrial flight patterns, Witchdoctor’s voodoo priest humble mumble, and Cool Breeze’s angelic war trap.

Our interview was supposed to take place around 7:30 PM, but occurs much later—after he incinerates the impromptu stage constructed for the event. He’s mostly lip-syncing, but it doesn’t really matter. This is a free show sponsored by a rum company, a fledgling hat line, and the publication that you’re reading. No one is expecting Coltrane Live at the Vanguard. But if Coltrane were still alive, he’d offer a sax lick tribute to the tune of “Stick Talk.”

We eventually speak in nearly pitch darkness, the only illumination coming from phosphorescent bulbs projecting his name. He’s bigger than you’d expect. 6’2 or 6’3, but looking like Metta World Peace with that hat. A full moon’s out but his sunglasses are on. He’s dressed in all black except for the gold chain around his neck—the Western outlaw you root for to destroy the corny do-gooders, who are probably just as bad as the villains in secret.

The interview is supposed to last ten minutes, but it’s cut short after six. He’s polite, smiles frequently, and on a completely different planet. Maybe Pluto, but probably not. Future doesn’t stay in the same place for very long. As soon as it ends, he’s ushered into a blindingly bright room filled with cameras and popping flash bulbs. If you didn’t know any better, you’d think he looked right at home, but that would be impossible.

* In this scenario, Big Rube is Daedelus.

What’s your favorite Dungeon Family album?
Probably ATLiens.

Why?
It’s like the beginning stages of them going to the next level of creating something great.

What’s the wisest thing Big Rube ever told you?
[Laughs] Big Rube, he says so many wise things. It’s hard to choose one from Big Rube…legendary.

What did you learn from him?
Take your time.

What are your favorite hat wearers in history?
Frank Sinatra, of course, of course.

On “Percocet and Strippers,” you said you took acid for the first time. Tell me about that experience
I tried it once, I never did it again.

You had a good time though, yeah?
Nah. There hasn’t been a fun drug since ecstasy. Everything else is real serious, like an intense aggressive high [growls, laughs] monster. It comes out at times.

Favorite basketball player ever
Michael Jordan.

On the Hawks?
Dominique Wilkins for sure. Spud Webb too.

Did you ever get your flip-flops back from your grandma?
Nope. I don’t even want ‘em back now. It’s hard to wear ‘em again. Ugh. Grandma why’d you do it? Those flip-flops are legendary. [Laughs]

How did "News or Somthn" come about? That might be your best song of the year and it’s seemingly a throwaway.
Man, that’s just me creating music and wanting to express myself in the studio and give the fans something like here you go, take this and listen to it. Build off of it and enjoy it. I don’t want to be putting too much thought into it. Sometimes it can become complicated.

Who is your favorite villain?
Favorite villain, um?

[Asks his manager] Who’s your favorite villain? [His manager answers Bane from Batman.]

2Pac.

Why do you think 2Pac continues to leave such a massive legacy behind?
For him to be so talented and for the situation to be so devastating, it was so unreal at the time. But people never wanted him to leave, people never wanted him to be dead and gone.

He had enough music to make us forget that he was gone, and instead treat it like he was still alive. 2Pac will live on forever. It just happened that way for him. He left a huge impact still to this day.

We were talking about ATLiens. Do you believe in Aliens?
I believe in ghosts.

Have you ever seen a ghost?
Yuh. I seen a ghost.

Where?
Everywhere.

What’s the meaning of life to you?
Living your life in the way that you want to live it. Having something to add to life. Giving something back. When you leave here, you leave a legacy and an impact on other people’s lives and inspire something in some way.

Are you happy?
I’m halfway happy. Halfway happy. There’s a balance to life. It’s all a balance. So me being halfway happy, that’s fair.

Jeff Weiss took acid one time and felt good. Follow him on Twitter.