Lucki Credit: Courtesy the Artist

It might seem bizarre to call Lucki the best conscious rapper in Chicago, given that the city is also represented nationally by the likes of Chance the Rapper, Saba, and Common. But hear me out. Conscious rap, which is loosely defined by the social commentary at its core, comes in two clearly identifiable forms: preaching and storytelling. Preaching is more common, and conscious rappers who deliver their commentary in this style typically state their topic, explain all the reasons it’s a problem, and (if we’re lucky) tell us how it can be fixed. Storytellers, on the other hand, present their message by spinning rhythmic yarns about people struggling with the issue at hand, whether truth or fiction. On last year’s mixtape Days B4 III, the 23-year-old Lucki establishes himself as a force to be reckoned with, as he grapples with relationship troubles, loss, and reckless spending. He’s unflinchingly honest in his self-critiques, and aligns himself with a youth culture that perpetuates the same sort of lifestyle he describes in his lyrics. Lucki gained notoriety in the post-Keef era of Chicago hip-hop for combining the rawness of drill with sedated trap beats and a groggy style of delivery, and his brand of aloof consciousness seems to especially resonate with young Chicagoans who lean on unauthorized prescription drugs, weed, and music to numb themselves against the pain of economic struggles and the deaths of loved ones and friends. On Days B4 III Lucki refines this style, not only recognizing his problems but also facing them in real time: over the ticking, xylophone-driven instrumental of “Hollywood Dreamer” he raps in a measured groan, “Back on them Xans, you can see it in my face / I need a molly to go on dates / Loud-ass Charger make me race.” He’s quite aware of his flaws, and of the toll these drugs take on him. At the end of the bar, he adds, “You know how that be”—it’s like a shrug of the shoulders. He’s just telling the truth, after all.   v