words by Eamon Whalen
photography by Bryan Allen Lamb
In a non-descript brick building in Oak Park, a suburb on the city-line of West Chicago, lies the home of Lucki Ecks. Or better put, the home of his mother Cherry, who greets me sweetly at the door. Lucki was formerly managed by Hollywood mogul Scott Vener, and then Fake Shore Drive’s Andrew Barber but now Cherry serves both the role of mom and manager for her 18-year-old upstart-rapper son. The night before Lucki had opened for British R&B futurist FKA Twigs at a Pitchfork Music Festival after-party. Just days before that they had released a collaborative song and video, produced and directed by Twigs, with vocals by Lucki. But at the moment, he’s still sound asleep. “I think he partied a little too hard last night,” says Cherry.
“Wake up, you got a photo shoot!” she yells. After a few minutes Lucki lumbers out of his bedroom and gives a yawning handshake before slumping into an armchair, visibly disoriented. Promptly, Cherry hands him a blunt wrap. “I don’t really want people to get to know me,” says Lucki, mildly annoyed with his new visitors as he breaks down the cigar.
An only child, Lucki bounced around the West Side growing up. “I’ve lived everywhere, bro,” he says. Now, he’s relatively settled. His father’s house is up the street, where Lucki does most of his writing unbothered. He forewent his senior year of high school in favor of home school because his newfound recognition became socially exhausting. “I don’t like being around a lot of people. There’s something wrong, I start twitching and shit,” he says.
It was less than a year before when Lucki released Alternative Trap, an aesthetic manifesto in the form of a mixtape that combines a dreamy, atmospheric soundscape with aggrandized tales of drug-dealing that turns a kaleidoscope to the street-corner. He was inspired to cast elements of Chicago’s grim, trap-drum backed Drill music in a new direction after watching how Ritchie Valens fused Latin music with Rock in the biopic La Bamba. He has his mother to thank for his eclectic palette. “She listens to everything. She played a lot of House music, Eminem, Erykah Badu,” he says. And the internet to thank for his success, noting that though he had just sold out popular local venue Reggies, he has more fans in other cities than he does in Chicago, especially in the UK.
His recent alignment with Twigs (“That’s my Twiggy,” he says) and appearance on an official remix of another young Brit, King Krule, reveal Lucki’s close ties to British label XL Recordings. He’s mum on the subject of managers and labels, only saying that XL has been in contact with him for the past year. “I don’t care about it as much as everyone expects me to care about it. I just care about recording a song, writing a song, I don’t care about the other stuff,” he says with the expected earnestness of an 18-year-old. “Alternative Trap is everything,” he says before moving his attention his new project Body High in his now-familiar guardedness. “Body High is gonna be amazing. But I don’t want to give out answers, you’re just going to have to wait and see.”