Lucki Credit: Courtesy the Artist

Any future history of Chicago hip-hop would be incomplete without a chapter about rapper Lucki. Starting with his startling 2013 debut, Alternative Trap, he’s been shaping and tightening a distinctive style built on forlorn storytelling and a languorous flow. His zonked-out affectations can make his songs seem tossed off, but when you listen deeper, the vulnerability, anxiety, and tension he carries in his gritty groan strike you with full force. Lucki has been on a remarkable streak the past couple years, and his third full-length in 15 months, May’s Almost There (Lucki/Empire), lands like a three-pointer in the final seconds of a blowout second quarter in game seven of the NBA finals. Lucki fits vivid tales strewn with drugs, fast cars, and heartbreak into songs that barely break two minutes, and his subtle inflections lend each track a noirish gravitas. As dark as he can get, he steers away from the morose; on “Pure Love-Hate,” Lucki’s voice threads through a brittle bell melody and a melting vocal sample with a subtle uplift that gives his story of a past dalliance a sense of spiritual fulfillment.   v