If you want to hear some of the fastest rapping on the planet outside of Twista, start with Futuristic’s track “No Way” at exactly 93 seconds in.
It’s not surprising that around the same time “The Rise” was released, Futuristic went viral online with a video called “Nerd Raps Fast In Compton.” The overnight exposure ignored the fact that “The Rise” was actually Futuristic’s FOURTH album. His nimble tongue was developed from an early age by being one of EIGHT kids in the same family who rapped, performing with them in a talent show as early as the first grade. “Man On a Mission” talks about how those early experiences shaped him into becoming the artist he is now even in the face of mom’s skepticism.
“Used to tell my momma stop doin the dishes
cause the mic was in the kitchen
I’m tryin to record here, I’m tryin to make hits
She lookin at me like I’m trippin
Like Zach, please do your homework
Please do your chores first
Zach, really tell me who you kiddin
I’m a get it ’til I got it momma
Now I got it momma”
There’s a playful humor that runs throughout Futuristic’s bars, with lines on “The Greatest” like “Snapping like a turtle/dressed like I’m Urkel/They worried ’bout me going to commercial.” He also leans into the “nerd rapper” persona for comedic effect in the accompanying video, showing that any time you make the mistake of judging a book by its cover you’re not seeing the depth of talent inside it.
Despite the fact that Futuristic’s profile had risen high enough at this point to enlist big name cameos, the album’s lineup is humble and stays focused on its star. Samson appears on “Raw,” D-Pryde’s on “OD” and Castro is on “Call of Duty.” The biggest guest is Devvon Terrell on the album’s title track, and when it comes to going viral on YouTube one could argue that Futuristic learned all his lessons from Terrell.
It’s interesting that five years after “The Rise” came out I don’t hear much talk about him or this album, even though his latest release is aptly titled “Still On the Rise.” What gives? Maybe it’s because he’s based in Tempe, Arizona (even though he was born in Illinois) and Arizona is not usually recognized as a hip-hop mecca. Given how many high quality rappers from Arizona that I’ve reviewed and enjoyed over the years, that perception needs a new prescription and a new pair of glasses. Y’all should see the talent in Tempe and Phoenix and take notice, and most of all you should take note of how good Futuristic is without the publicity hype train and A-list paid appearances. Produced mostly by Twigg and De-Capo Music Group, “The Rise” is a solid 40 minutes of music to listen to on repeat… and not just to catch Futuristic’s bars when he’s flowing at top speed.