Last week, baby Future celebrated his 5th birthday and was gifted a Rolex from his father, Atlanta rapper Future. Due to baby Future having three high profile parents (Ciara, Future, and stepfather NFL superstar Russell Wilson), imaginary parents, caregivers, and childhood psychology Twitter went in on Future. All of us act like total experts whenever a celebrity does something that reminds us of our basic lives, so it was bound to happen. 

Compounding that, everyone is perpetually pissed at the way Future has chosen to build his family: six children with six different women. This is probably the root of the internet’s, or what Future broadly frames as “the blogs’” issue with him – and likely society in general. I’m of a split mind on this: I think people generally resent celebrities for their wealth and status and he’s a filthy rich self-made black rapper who makes no effort to conceal his wealth. On the other hand, there have been a fair amount of messy stories about Future’s private family matters not only on urban blogs, but mass outlets like TMZ, resulting in public conversations that have aggressively juxtaposed Future with Russell, who has been presented as the ideal black father. The general consensus is that Russell is a family man: more sensitive, sweet, and present in baby Future’s life. On the flipside, people have called these qualities corny, which I find pretty toxic. Conversely, Future has in the past helped fuel two images of him as a father: a drug addicted (he claims he actually stopped drinking Lean at end of 2017) artist who sounds depressed and selfish. And on fatherhood and joint-parenting, Future is the one with the bad sound bites.

Throughout the years, Future has dismissed Ciara and Russell’s relationship and time spent with baby Future, at one point early on saying that our community doesn’t do things like have another man around a child too early. Even if he’s right, I think we should. Our community, while not a monolith, does work in ways that adjust to circumstances and he should have been happier that his child had another positive influence in his life. Then Future pointed to positive things Russell has done to support Ciara and by proxy their son, coming across as bitter and dead wrong, claiming Russell is not a real man for not reining Ciara in. He ended up backtracking, clarifying he’s actually happy for them.

On top of that, there have been a ton of stories in the past couple years about how he juggles women, including a relationship with mother of Bow Wow’s daughter, dancer, model and fashion designer Joie Chavis. Long before Chavis gave birth to her and Future’s son Hendrix last December, she leaked that she and Future had a real relationship and were in love, as well as some rather disparaging things about his other children. Of course, along with being an incredible artist, Future is the king of petty on the internet, tweeting things about women like “U gone cry in a Honda or Ferrari? Slime. Voice.”

Which brings us to now, and all the talk about the baby Rolex, just as things seem to be changing for Future in general, and certainly an improvement on all of the above. He sat down with Nessa from Hot 97 for a vulnerable interview. While discussing his music, Future’s personal life came up as the two are so closely intertwined. When Nessa asked him if he wanted to settle down, Future seemed open to the idea, but that it has to be the right woman, adding that he can’t choose any of the woman he’s already had children with because it would “start a melee”. Which is kinda funny but I understand the conflict he’s talking about if strong feelings are still tied up in the relationships. He also said he doesn’t like a woman being possessive or jealous but he’s not special for that; we all have trust issues and he’s famous.

I liked when he opened up to Nessa about his outlook on happiness: “I wanna be happy, I don’t want to deal with the [silly] issues, I’m trying to build...”, adding that he wants to date someone with ambition, strong drive, and high self-esteem. Of course, he wants the internet to stay out of his dream relationship altogether, saying neither him or his future partner should have social media and that he wants his foundation next time to be different. I have to wonder then if Future’s children weren’t so heavily scrutinized, if he would feel as compelled to open up about his personal business and relationships. 

Future has never been shy about talking about how connected his children are to his legacy. It reminds me of what Offset was talking about when he released his Father of 4 album, and he’s another Atlanta rapper people shame for being a present father to multiple children. Future’s lyrics are full of his (often ugly) truths: his real fans know that and that’s why we love him. Because black fatherhood, by institutionalized circumstance, can look so many different ways, but our opinions about celebrities have not caught up with any of this insight or progressiveness. 

Should we be punishing him for being authentic and punish other celebrities for being private? (But hi Jesse Williams, we are still wondering wtf is going on.) If we are serious about wanting positive and sustainable environments for black children, should we resent Future for buying his son a gift? If Future is trying to work on himself, and his relationships, can we keep calling him a terrible father compared to a Russell Wilson, ignoring the fact that love expands and families are made in a variety of ways, including stepparents, extended families, and villages? 

Attached - Future performing in Japan earlier this month.