Atlanta’s Future, who plays the Neptune Theatre Thursday, is one of the leading voices in rap, R&B and even pop music in 2014, with multiple radio hits (“Move That Dope,” “Honest”) and collaborations with everyone from Kanye West and Andre 3000 to Miley Cyrus.
But the 30-year-old’s path to the top has been an arduous one.
As he professes on “Blood, Sweat, Tears,” the closing track of his new album, “Honest,” “You couldn’t have known what I did for this.”
Future first made waves on the crowded, megatalented Atlanta mixtape circuit, where he has deep roots. He’s a first cousin of Rico Wade, the principal producer and engineer of Atlanta’s legendary “Dungeon” studio, where groups like Outkast and Goodie Mob recorded ahead-of-their-time classics. Future even recorded some early-career material with short-lived second generation Dungeon Family group Da Connect.
Though he acknowledges the importance of these influences — how he “learned the game, and the format of making records and putting songs together” — Future felt a need to branch out.
“You always gotta be able to create your own path with this music thing,” he said in a phone interview. “You don’t ever wanna walk in no one else’s shoes, but just be inspired by everyone’s story … Everyone has their own blueprint. I didn’t want to walk in anyone else’s shadow.”
Future’s “own blueprint” happened to include becoming one of the most progressive and experimental, yet still somehow relatable and radio-ready artists in music.
He broke into the mainstream with a constant stream of mixtapes, starting with “1000,” in 2010, and also by lending his hook-writing and singing skills to YC’s 2011 hit, “Racks,” a triumphant club anthem that almost singlehandedly resurrected Auto-Tune and made Future one of Atlanta’s most sought-after talents.
His second official album, “Honest,” released this April, debuted at No. 2 on the Billboard 200 and at No. 1 on the R&B/Hip-Hop chart.
He’s possibly the only artist out there capable of making modern, adult-contemporary R&B (the album’s title track) and raucous, chest-beating death-threat rap (one of the bonus tracks) sound equally sincere and natural.
“Honest’s” varied approaches and wide-ranging songs have earned Future a similarly diverse following.
“I always looked at it like I want to be able to touch everyone, I don’t want to have just a certain fan base,” he said. “I want to be able to touch the culture in many ways.”
8 p.m. Thursday, July 3, at The Neptune Theatre, 1303 N.E. 45th St., Seattle; $27.50 (877-784-4849 or stgpresents.org).