It was almost exactly a year ago that a Chicago rapper not even 18 years old named Lucki Eck$ dropped a mixtape called Alternative Trap. While every other Chicago rapper out was making hard, aggressive rap that sounded like war, Lucki was floating above it all in a Xanax cloud. Working with producers like Plu2o Nash and Hippie Dream, Lucki mastered a mellow delivery over hypnotic beats that sounded like an escape from the harsh reality of a city in turmoil.
Since that mixtape, Lucki has been busy. He got picked up for tour dates with Danny Brown, has been working with the XL Recordings camp, made a song with FKA twigs (and he’s playing a show with her tonight), and all of this is sparked from the music he made when he was 15 and 16 years old. He just turned 18, and he’s experienced a lot in the past years. He promises the best is yet to come, and we believe him.
Can you talk a little bit about growing up in Chicago and when you first got into making music.
Growing up in Chicago, it was always soulful. Before that, it was kinda street. When I was growing up, we had Kanye and Common and the other people weren’t really as relevant. So the kids from Chicago that wanted to rap when we were younger, we wanted to be like Kanye. That’s how I first kinda got into it.
How old were you when you first started making music?
I was a little kid, in 7th grade but I started taking it seriously my freshman year of high school.
You’re 17 still now, right?
Yeah, I turn 18 soon. [Note: He’s 18 now.]
Are you still in school?
Yeah, I’m homeschooled.
So you’re going to finish high school?
A lot of the music coming out of Chicago right now is very aggressive and your style is way more mellow. Is that natural for you or were you trying to do something that sounds different?
Yeah, it’s natural. It would be pretty hard for me to start making aggressive music or to make anything aggressive, period. It’s a natural thing, I like the vibe of it.
Do you like the other stuff that’s coming out of Chicago right now?
Yeah, but besides Chief Keef, Chance, and a few others, it’s all kind of a Chicago cliché.
How were the shows you did with Danny Brown?
Oh, that was so fun. I only did five dates so I was on the bus for a week but it was so fun. It made me a way better performer and I know how to embrace crowds way more.
How’d that happen, did Danny reach out to you?
I think it all happened through the Red Bull program because me and him did a song for that. So they gave me the opportunity and I said, “Yeah.”
Do you enjoy performing live?
Yeah, I liked it. I didn’t used to though.
You killed it at SXSW.
Thank you man.
I don’t really like writing to the main rhythm of the beat so I try to find a background instrument to write to.
Your production choices are really unique. Do you hear a beat first then write or do you just have all these songs and then try to find the right beat?
Nah, I hear the beat first and then I write. Sometimes it gets real hard because I don’t know, I don’t really like writing to the main rhythm of the beat so I try to find a background instrument to write to. Then I find the melody. That’s how I do it. But some people don’t really use a lot of instruments in their beat so it’s kinda hard to make music with them, but I still do it.
You have your own crew of producers that you work with. As you keep making music and getting bigger, are you gonna branch out to some of the big name producers?
I would if they can make the type of beats that I can rap to. I really don’t want to force myself to rap over any other type of beats because then it wouldn’t sound good. [Laughs] But I would try.
What’s next for you? Do you have any upcoming collaborations or projects that you’re working on?
Danny Brown, of course. There’s an upcoming mixtape dropping in July, and I got a video dropping in like two weeks. I also have a song with FKA twigs coming out. [Note: Check out his songs with FKA twigs, “Ouch Ouch” here]
That’s awesome, how’d that come about? She’s amazing.
[Laughs] Through the XL camp. I’ve been working with XL for like a year now.
Anything else we can look out for?
My new project, seriously. Because on Alternative Trap, I was on some 15-year-old shit and I used to like drugs and I used to like the topic. I knew it would get people’s attention if I put it over these beats. I was just scheming. But my next project, I’m so beyond drugs. I mean, I’m 17 and I live in Chicago so drugs are a big part of my life and a big part of the music but I’ve experienced a lot since that last project. Content-wise, this is going to be better.
What kind of content is it?
Relatable content, but not like a corny relatable. I don’t know, it’s hard to explain. But when you hear it you’ll be like, “Ah, Lucki was right.” [Laughs]