Future Brown Dazzles On Debut

Future Brown

New York – Future Brown is a production collective that was formed, Voltron-like, by dance music duo Nguzunguzu’s Asma Maroof and Daniel Pineda, artist and musician Fatima al Qadiri, and Lit City Trax label owner and promoter J-Cush. Their self-titled debut album is a melting pot of dance music, taking sounds and beats from drum-fueled, rap-based genres from all over the world. There’s reggaeton and dancehall, from the Caribbean; from farther north, there’s Atlanta trap rap and Chicago drill; from across the Atlantic, there’s London grime. Future Brown is too cool and worldly to express a sentiment like “dance transcends all boundaries,” but their music still reinforces that truth. Understanding what the singer is saying is unnecessary for booty movement.

The globetrotting sensibility extends to the guest vocalists as well. Special spotlights are given to up-and-coming female singers, like dancehall singer Timberlee on the raunchy “No Apology” and (northern Manhattan’s) Washington Heights-based reggaeton vocalist Maluca on “Vernaculo.”

The star of the album is Tink, an ascendant Chicagoan singer/rapper in the vein of Azealia Banks. Tink appears on two songs on Future Brown, opening track “Room 302” and closer “Wanna Party,” and delivers a commanding performance on both. “Room 302” is a slinky bedroom jam where Tink orders a lover to watch her undress over Future Brown’s gamelan-like synths. The chorus is long and wordy, and Tink’s assertive presence is casually assured. “Wanna Party” has the gamelan-synth again and mutated Dirty South 808s that sound like Memphis-via-outer space. “Don’t you wanna party? Put some liquor in your body,” Tink spits in a staccato Chicago trademark flow.

Tink has been working with Timbaland, whose influence on Future Brown is evident. Like Timbaland, Future Brown makes multicultural, futuristic party music. DJ/rupture is perhaps a clearer influence, as he also makes multicultural party music, but with an intellectual, socio-political bent that Future Brown shares. There are shades of M.I.A. and Diplo as well, but unlike Diplo, a notorious cultural appropriator, Future Brown includes the people whose voices and rhythms they’re borrowing.

Future Brown album

Future Brown makes music for a future where national and racial boundaries have collapsed and everyone bands together to fight the powers that be through the power of dance. It’s political the way the best science fiction is political, in how it reflects and comments on present-day social ills by imagining what the future may be like. In their Fader interview, the members of Future Brown downplay the issue of race in their music, arguing that to focus on race “takes away from the idea that this is something that exists without having a definition,” but that’s the point, isn’t it? In the future, Future Brown won’t be forced to define itself.

Future Brown is out this week on Warp Records. As of now, they have a few club and festival dates throughout the spring and summer; follow them on Facebook for updates.


Liam Mathews

Liam Mathews

Liam grew up in Rosendale, NY, a little town in the Hudson Valley. Now he lives in Brooklyn. He has a degree in nonfiction writing from The New School. He mostly writes about music, comedy, and style, but he can write about a lot of things. He's written for Playboy, Fast Company, Nerve, and a lot of other places. He's real good at Twitter.
Liam Mathews