Future kept the street bangers coming throughout 2011, and without wasting any time, he's back at it early in 2012. Astronaut Status, the follow up mixtape to Streetz Calling, dropped late last week and is laced with Future's mix of codeine flow and signature nuanced auto tuned mic presence. With Big Boi and T.I. recently jumping on remixes to some of his block anthems, it's clear that Future has generated enough buzz to grab the attention of both the streets and musical heavyweights. With his debut album Pluto due early this year, the Freebandz rhymer uses Astronaut Status as a precursor, another opportunity to get his intoxicating melodies in the forefront of hip hop heads' collective sonic pallet.

Hosted by DJ Esco, DJ Scream and DJ X-Rated, Astronaut Status begins with the piano and string driven "Future Back," where song's namesake imparts, "All the lil ghetto children/Future all they know/Astronaut, Pluto/Numero uno/I'm comin' for ya throat." This sets the tone for the rest of the tape, where Future exudes the materialism and supreme confidence that has generated his buzzworthy trajectory into 2012. Next is "Space Cadets," as Future settles into the low octave melodic flow that he employs to varying degrees throughout the release hammering, home his rockstar status and the lavish life that he's grinded for.

The tape really ramps up with the high-quality features Future is able to extract from ATL titans Young Jeezy, Gucci Mane and Ludacris. Jizzle steps in on the trumpet-blaring ode to trafficking, "Birds Take a Bath," and delivers his signature flow on a record tailor-made for his street talk. On "Jordan-Diddy" Future gets the assist from Gucci 2 Times and the two pass off verses depicting themselves as a hybrid of His Airness and mogul P. Diddy interspersing hoops references in their vision of street and club dominance. Luda illustrates his self-satisfied spending habits on "Blow," where he and Future boast of the excess they burn through as a commonplace within their lifestyles.

While Future often relies on his materialistic musings to carry Astronaut Status, "Deeper Than the Ocean" strays away from the norm, resulting in one of the more listenable records on the tape. The braided rapper riffs on the stress of coming up in the street life and the self-destructive mentality that is often a consequence. Over a melancholy guitar-laden beat, Future delivers the inebriated auto-tuned melodies lamenting, "Taking three drugs at one time/Ducking one time/Have you niggas stop hating on Future one time?"

The format is a bit hit or miss. Sometimes it works, like on "Deeper Than the Ocean" and "Rider," but sometimes Future's attempts fall a little flat, as witnessed on "Never Seen These". It's apparent that Future knows the components of a catchy street chant, it's just a matter of whether or not he can deliver every time.

While Astronaut Status is up and down and never really hits the highs like "Racks," "Tony Montana," and "Magic" that fans have come to expect from Future, it's apparent that he's poised to continue the buzz of 2011 humming right along into 2012. With major co-signs from the Southern elite, time will tell if Future can deliver on his debut. Turn up! —Troy Mathews