Chicago rapper Lucki has come to terms with who he truly is — finding a little luck embracing the pain he’s experienced, channeling it into his music.
Whether he’s rapping about self-doubt, depression, his prescription drug addiction, or the toxicity of his romantic relationships, revealing his vices only seems to strengthen the bond he has with his core following. Relatably imperfect, Lucki finds himself in a comfortable position after bursting onto the scene eight years ago.
As a budding 16-year-old rapper in 2013, his biggest influence was Chief Keef during the meteoric rise of Chicago’s drill wave. Known as Lucki Eck$ then, he found his niche in “alternative trap,” curating a sound that sat wedged between the city’s street-inspired anthems and hymnal, lo-fi inflections pioneered by an aspiring Chance The Rapper.
His breakout single “Count on Me” (and its accompanying music video) received co-signs from the likes of Justin Timberlake and Pharrell, as Lucki’s debut mixtape, Alternative Trap, seemed to be ahead of its time — showcasing a flow found in the vocal stylizations of the SoundCloud rap era. Ultimately laying the foundation for an entirely new wave of artists, it was difficult for him to keep up with what he started. His mental health continued to decline drastically, and you can hear it in the music.
After dropping fan favorites in the Freewave and Freewave 2, Lucki took a hiatus from music in late-2016. He turned to Future‘s music to help him cope with his complicated feelings — finding solace in the tattered and toxic emotions they mirrored in one another. Realizing he was able to be transparent with himself, his music followed suit — and things really took off from there.
Although Lucki’s been a year removed from releasing a full-length album, his latest two-pack Almost Woke provides a glimmer into a bleaker, more insightful version of himself. As his upcoming mixtape, wakeuplucki, draws closer each day, the rapper sat down with OGM host Hakeem Rowe to discuss being labeled the “underground king,” his OVO co-sign, his aspirations to produce a SoundCloud documentary and how the past year has changed him for the better.
HR: All your mixtapes sound different. They all have a different feel. How do you come up with the concepts for each project you create?
LUCKI: “Every time I make a project, obviously I’m like ‘you gotta keep grinding.’ But, I always stop recording for two months, no matter what, because it’d be like a subconscious delay. My momma told me like, ‘Relax — you need stuff to rap about now.’ It’s just always about different phases of my life.”
HR: What’s your favorite version of you with all that being said?
LUCKI: “Right now. This my favorite version of me. I like right now.”
HR: After dropping Freewave 3, how important was that project for your career?
LUCKI: “Very important. It’s a very important project for my life. I remember it like, ‘I can’t wait to lock in and just get this shit out.’ People say I’d be tweeting in codes and some fans, they just had to decipher what I’m saying if they knew what I was on. When I was making that, I really wanted to just get it out because it was like I was reading my diary. Now [my fans] can finally understand what I’m talking about because they really like me.”
HR: I feel like everything really came together on Freewave 3. At that point — just visually — you could see your music videos, your sound and how impactful it was to people. Did you kind of just let yourself go through things to tap into something more at that time?
LUCKI: “Yeah. I was so emotional — but not like ’emotional’ like [crying], but I was stubborn, so I never felt what I was feeling at that time before. I was like. ‘I’m gonna be like Future.’ Everybody say they were gonna be like that [emulating his sound], but I really did it like Future did. I turned up off heartbreak — monetize the heartbreak!”
HR: You choose some very weird, yet some of the most fire beats I’ve heard. What do you look for in your production?
LUCKI: “It’s not on purpose [they’re weird/fire] either. I’m just real picky. Big producers who try to work with me get so offended, it’s just I’m real picky — it’s from the universe. So when all the music comes to me, it’s like I’m giving parts of myself to people. I really be rapping my life even when I don’t try to. Like, I gotta drop in the most perfect way to me if I’m gonna open up to everybody else.”
HR: Lone Wolf — your creative partner — How did you guys link up and what video of his made you a fan of his work?
LUCKI: “When I was managing myself and shit, I needed to find everything and everyone. When I found him, we just started working from there. He just knows I’m real picky. I’m gonna say I’m the same way with videographers as I am with producers. Like back then, no matter who you were working with before, I don’t care if you worked with Madonna, like me rapping over your beat, it was gonna be crazy.”
HR: Was there ever a point where you didn’t value music?
LUCKI: “I mean, I did. I didn’t listen to myself [my music]. But, I put myself into a box because that’s how it is with a lot of rappers. You know, people want to put you in a box [musically], and I wasn’t gonna let people do that. So, I put myself in a box.”
HR: The thing that everyone’s saying now is ‘Lucki’s the Underground King.’ How do you feel about being labeled that?
LUCKI: “It was awesome, but people rap for free in the underground. So, I really appreciated that time period when it was going on.”
HR: Grammys, awards, charting on Billboard: Does that type of stuff matter to you? How do you feel about the Grammys?
LUCKI: “Yeah. It’s like a sport. A Grammy is like an MVP award. You can win the Super Bowl and still not have an MVP award. So it’d be nice to get a MVP. We all champions though. Like we don’t need that [award]. People shouldn’t be getting mad at this shit. You know how they look at you — where you from? It aint it, man.”
HR: How was your Miami performance? How did you feel being back out after a year? Did you mess up at all?
LUCKI: “It’s great. I used to be so shy performing. I heard something when I was performing, somebody was in the crowd and said ‘he was not like this last time.’ It was funny to me then, seeing how far I’ve come.”
HR: You’re working with F1LTHY together on your next tape “wakeuplucki.” How did you guys meet and what does F1LTHY bring out to you as an artist?
LUCKI: “He take this shit so serious, so you gotta take it serious with him. It would be a daily thing where we wouldn’t make a song because I had to write and I’d be like, ‘my bad bro.’ But, he’s so used to working hard because nobody else really does it like him. So I’ll be thinking that my process be getting annoying. But yeah, I like working with F1LTHY a lot.”
HR: You guys finished the project already?
LUCKI: “Not yet. It’s like 93.5% finished. You gonna have to see who else is on it though.”
HR: Lucki is inspiring to a lot of people. I want to know who inspires Lucki. What artists are you listening to? Who did you look up to growing up?
LUCKI: “I’ll never forget when I was first out here in LA. It’s my first time gettin’ money, gettin’ money, you feel me? And my homie played Babyface Ray when we was in his G-Wagen. Since then, I was hooked. But, I really listen to Future and Uzi right now, they go crazy together. I’ve been on Thug a lot recently too. Chief Keef is another inspiring artist to me, he could’ve went mainstream, but he’s a true artist at heart.”
HR: OVO Sound is always playing Lucki. They just dropped your two songs on their show. How did you link up with Oliver and all those guys?
LUCKI: “Drake is one of my favorite rappers. They’ve been supporting me for like two years. It just all fit. They can hear where my inspiration comes from and it’s all love with them. I definitely could hear Drake and me on a song. That’s crazy, man.”
HR: Where do you see yourself five years from now?
LUCKI: “I’ll be 30, but I’ll be lit though. I’m not trying to be a rapper when I’m 30, that’s when I’m going to start making documentaries and shit. I want to make one about the Soundcloud era, because when people talk about Soundcloud rap, they only talk about who went mainstream — like the Miami type of shit.”
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