Considering where Future was at the start of his career, the meteoric rise that he's experienced over the past year is more than enough reason for the Astronaut Kid to keep his head in the clouds and the #9 spot on MTV News' "Hottest MCs in the Game VIII" list.
What began as a strictly underground run began to take off in 2011 with Future's "Tony Montana" single and its Drake-assisted remix. During 2012, however, Future sky-rocketed to new heights with high-powered pop hooks, while still keeping his hold on the streets. His mix of melodic arrangements and raspy rap bars were a sure-shot formula for some of the year's biggest hits.
"You can go to any club, you'll hear not only one Future song, you'll hear probably six in a row," argued MTV Hip-Hop Brain Trust veteran Steven Roberts. "I think he is the Hottest MC."
Whether it was the gold-selling, chart-topping syrupy ballad "Turn on the Lights," the T.I.-backed "Magic" or the infectious "Same Damn Time," Future seemed to have club staples on lock. But it was his guest spots on songs like Rihanna's "Loveeeeeee Song" and Lil Wayne's "Love Me" that helped create a sense that the Atlanta rapper/songwriter was omnipresent. "Love Me" is a top 10 Billboard hit, and if the Rihanna record ever gets released as a single, it has the potential to do the same.
Selected Mixtapes: Astronaut Status and FBG: The Movie
Singles: "Turn on the Lights," "Neva End (Remix)" (featuring Kelly Rowland), "Same Damn Time"
Street Bangers: "Karate Chop (Remix)" (featuring Lil Wayne)
Key Guest Appearances: Rihanna's "Loveeeeeee Song," Lil Wayne's "Love Me," Ace Hood's "Bugatti"
Meteoric Metrics: Future took his mixtape grind to Billboard heights, crafting top 10 records not only for himself, but for Lil Wayne too.
Business Ventures: The Astronaut Kid struck a deal with Epic for his label, Freebandz Entertainment, in December.
Tours: Future didn't make too much of an impact tour-wise, but his 2012 outing at the NFC championship game and at Atlanta's annual Birthday Bash has earned the rap rookie plenty of high-paying show dates.
Monumental Moment: Future made his mark when "Turn on the Lights" peaked at #4 on the Billboard Rap charts, raising the demand for his melodic-brand of songwriting.
Forecast: Modest sales for Pluto should become a distant memory by the time the ATL songwriter drops Future Hendrix. Oh yeah, and a few more high-powered collaborations won't hurt either.
Chart placement aside, there were the intangibles: Not only has Future been a sought-after hook man, working his magic with Ace Hood ("Bugatti"), DJ Drama ("We in This Bitch") and Rick Ross ("Ring Ring"), he also performed at the 2012 NFL NFC Championship game in January — a true testament to his popularity.
Still, the planets weren't exactly in alignment for the Astronaut Kid with regard to one bit of "Hottest MCs" criteria. In April, Future dropped his debut album, Pluto, but only about 41,000 folks showed up to the register in its first week of release. The LP's November re-release, Pluto 3D, didn't fare much better, pushing about 11,000 units in its premiere weekend.
"That opening week's album sales are also a reflection of the fact that he's making great singles, that you're not going to him for a complete collection of work," said Rebecca Thomas, MTV News' Managing Editor.
Future's sales patterns only tell one part of the story, however. Not only does he have a chokehold on rap, but his collaborations with Kelly Rowland and an upcoming one with Jennifer Lopez will only open him up to a bigger audience by the time he drops his sophomore LP, Future Hendrix.