We review Lucki Eck$' latest mixtape "X."
Lucki Eck$ is one of the more interesting figures in today's rap scene. He may not have a "Trap Queen" under his belt, but with a unique sound, a few solid mixtapes, and no shortage of music videos, the 19-year-old rapper has built an image that his devoted fanbase can't get enough of.
Eck$ is constantly rapping about drugs, and his music mirrors the illicit yet tempting qualities of the substances he raps about. He boasts about ingesting and selling Xanax, among other narcotics, over beats that can best be described as, well, a disorienting elixir of Xan, lean, and few other choice Rx's in sonic form. It doesn’t stop us from listening though, and his wavy brand of cloud rap continues to grow into something in between Yung Lean and ASAP Rocky. It’s a perfect sound for 2015, as rap continues to get spacier, weirder, slower, and at times, self-loathing.
Of course, Lucki's brand of recklessness comes with a dark side. On "Inside," lyrics include: "I'm rotting on the inside" and "I might drive really fast until I'm sober." His distorted voice channels the whirlwind of darkness that enters the fray once Lucki's choice intoxicants begin to lose their effect. While he's just had one helluva night, things turn inward, and soon, near-suicidal, during the come-down.
But while he's up, damn it's a great sound-- melodic and featherweight, like the sonic equivalent of your first exhale of kush smoke on a cloudy day. No wonder they call it "cloud rap." The sound drones through the speakers like the cuts off Drake's If You’re Reading This It’s Too Late, without the pop-leaning hooks.
If you've been keeping up with Lucki's career, and listened to Alternative Trap and Body High, you'll find solace in more of the same underground records on X. However, he's on his way to perfecting his sound, and he may just be one good chorus away from a massive hit record.
The beats are so slow it's a stretch to call his vocal delivery "raps." "Mia Wallace" sits at about 55 BPM, and his slurred delivery would have DJ Screw proud (and probably scratching his head on how to chop and screw it). He even uses a Mike Jonessample on "Still Steal," a cut that sounds like it had plenty of Houston influence in its creation. The chopped and screwed vibe is fairly cohesive throughout the entire listen, where druggy flows meet druggy instrumentals to make, presumably, the soundtrack for a druggy hangout.
Though much of X will sink you right into the couch, Lucki can make tracks for more turnt-up situations. "None Other" boasts some wobbly bass courtesy of Bulletproof Dolphin, the Detroit beat collective led by Danny Brown producer Skywlkr. It won't get the club going like "The Motto" will, but it has a simmering late-night bounce to it. Though released almost six months ago, "Stevie Wonder," featuring fellow Chicagoan Chance the Rapper, is the mixtape's best effort. Chance’s Acid Rap definitely helped usher in this psychedelic stage that rap currently sits in, and Lucki and him sound fantastic together.
Production is handled by a handful of up-and-comers. Most notable, Young Chop provided the beat for the Chance the Rapper collaboration. Other than that, Bulletproof Dolphin contribute two tracks, Lucki produces three himself, and longtime collaborator Plu2o Nash handles two more. Skywlkr and Black Noise, both part of Bulletproof Dolphin, do the tape-closer, "Finesse II," while Boathouse takes care of the introduction, "What I Wanna." It's stylistically similar to Earl Sweatshirt's latest LP I Don’t Like Shit, I Don’t Go Outside, which was produced by Earl during a darker period of his life.
If you’re not a fan of his style, X won't change your mind, but if you dig the druggy rap he's been laying down for the last couple of years, you'll find X is his most pleasing offering to date. At just 19, Lucki Eck$ has all the potential in the world, and we can’t wait to watch his career unfold.