Words By Jake Krez
Sometime last summer, set amongst the rippling gunfire of drill and the eclectic storytelling of SaveMoney, a new voice emerged from Chicago’s bountiful streets with a melancholy mood and an almost chillingly calm disposition in relaying tales of growing up in one of the country’s roughest cities.
That voice was Lucki Eck$ and listeners got to know him on his debut, Alternative Trap, a project that eschewed raucous, repetitive choruses and trap beats for a more gentle, soft-spoken aesthetic from which to explain the world he exists in. On his latest project, BODY HIGH, released last week, we get a continuance of those elements that show a mastery of his own distinct sound, without exploring too far beyond it.
One thing is readily obvious from Lucki’s first two releases; drugs are a big part of his life. At 19, the sleepy-eyed Chicagoan narrates intense stories of back alley deals and strung out customers the way most would describe a morning trip to get a cup of coffee.
On this record though, we find the narrative from Alternative Trap, that of a young dealer taking care of business, juxtaposed with a more personal take on his relationship with his product. While Young Thug might wail “I’m a stoner” Lucki is content to just let listeners know, calmly explaining on “4th Commandment Broken” a nod to Notorious B.I.G’s drug dealing manifesto: “Back pocket full of molly,/crushed cap of the Xans/Off the shit at my shows then I sell it all to my fans”. The delivery is tired, yawning, as seemingly drugged out as the stories he tells which at once makes it authentic and mildly eyebrow-raising.
Lucki is at his best when employing his chill tones to bring listeners into his world. Through subtle asides and drop line bars, he moves about through a story arc like a seasoned novelist in his ability to add supporting auxiliary detail.
On “Xan Cage”, which might be the perfect introduction to anyone wanting to understand Lucki, he explains in subtle speech, “When I was 16 I went and copped it from my mans/And ever since then I just been copping from my mans/My mother found my stash, if she knew she’d understand/Lied to her and said I sold ‘em she said don’t end up in jail.” Lucki’s ability to paint such a vivd image of interaction between he and his mother over her uncovering his drug stash is at once telling, both of their relationship and the MC’s ability to say a lot with a little.
“Reflections” may well be one of his best yet in it’s explanation of his relationship with an uncle who gave him an entrance to the world in which he now exists. “My uncle told me dope would make me money then he used it/In fact he shot it up and still went broke that shit confused me/Its freebie after freebie text as soon as he hear my music/I feel bad for that n*gga still will serve him, need that moolah.” His ability to stay detached while explaining stories so close to him is the hook that is necessary in continuing to develop a fan base around the situations he illustrates.
While BODY HIGH does little new in terms of production and overall sound from Alternative Trap, it does advance the overall narrative that Lucki has been writing since he burst on the scene almost a year ago. He possesses a voice and a penchant for explanation that is as entrancing as it can be repetitive.
With two projects now out in the world, it’s apparent that Lucki Eck$ is one of the more talented storytellers in Hip-Hop today. The question is can he diversify enough for the rest of the country to take notice.
As if last week’s release of BODY HIGH wasn’t enough, Lucki today surprised fans with a collaboration with none other than Danny Brown who he teamed up with for “Weightin” which dropped today as part of Red Bull Sound Select. The track will be available for purchase tomorrow, August 12th via iTunes.