When we scrutinize the elements of hip-hop which today are considered commonplace, there are often surprises to be found in deconstructing and re-building the template. The studies performed by MC 900 Ft. Jesus decades ago still hold up well against modern compositions such as those by 13 & God, and the hardline variations of B L A C K I E and clipping. have opened the door for new and different interpretations of hip-hop in the 21st century. In 2013, young Chicago native Lucki Eck$ released the mixtape Alternative Trap, a bold response to the predominant sounds in hip-hop and an exciting debut from a raper who wasn’t even eighteen years old.
The title of Alternative Trap is somewhat misleading since Eck$’s music never ventures too close to trap territory. The production, handled by Plu2o Nash, Hippie Dream and Hytman among others, tended toward reverb-heavy samples, jazz instruments and only the occasional high-hat roll. Eck$ has a croaky drawl and is often content to slowly string his words together, never uncertain but with a destination not always in sight. The mixtape appeared in contrast to the drill scene popular in Chicago at that time and was immediately praised for its originality and individuality.
On his second mixtape, Body High, Lucki Eck$ follows the trajectory of his debut release with twelve songs that offer a glance into a drug-soaked life of conflict resolution (“Hidden Place”) and money counting (“Told Me”). Eck$ pays tribute to The Notorious BIG on opener “4th Commandment Broken” and then proceeds to write his own rules for hip-hop as each songs flows into the next. The title of this release becomes appropriate as the woozy production combines with Eck$’s laidback flows, an album to nod along to and possibly nod off to.
Two of the most noteworthy songs on Alternative Trap are “Count On Me” and “Count On Me II,” a pair of moody, introspective tunes that come across as a symbiosis of lyrics and beat rather than the juxtaposition of the two. Eck$ has seen fit now to release “Count On Me 3,” a dreamy tune in which synth loops warble like satellite stations in old video games and Lucki’s voice is processed through effects for the chorus. Referencing Lil B and Stephen King within a few bars of each other, Eck$ maintains a fast pace with his vocal delivery and drives home a compelling song which closes the release succinctly.
Body High is at once a progression for Lucki Eck$ as an artist and also a continuation of the ideas and concepts present in Alternative Trap. As a sophomore effort it demonstrates the strengths of its creator and sets the stage for myriad future possibilities. Already this mixtape rings of the best of the year, showcasing an up-and-coming emcee in top form and delivering a consistent and thought-provoking sound throughout.