Chicago’s LucKey Beat Covid-19, Here’s What It Taught Him About Love …
Written by Vocalo Radio on May 26, 2020
After featuring his song “Lately” in our May In Rotation, we haven’t been able to get enough of Chicago hip hop artist LucKey. And he’s been busy over the past few weeks.
Between contracting Covid-19, beating it, and releasing an album, he’s had his hands full. But it hasn’t stopped him from creating.
We’ve been jamming out to “Lately” all month long, as well as the rest of LucKey’s brand new album Only Way Is Up. We spoke to him about growing up in L-Town, the first song he ever wrote, and what having COVID taught him.
How would you describe your work in a few sentences?
As an artist and a person in general, I’m all about good vibes and positive energy and that’s exactly how I’d describe my music. I’m a huge people-person, so I love creating music that people can connect and vibe to no matter the content.
What was it like growing up on Chicago’s West Side in L-Town?
Growing up out west in L-Town was like being raised in the jungle. Survival of the fittest. A dog-eat-dog world. Thankfully, I have a huge family to rely on for the most part. My family was heavily influenced by the street/gang culture and my step dad was a police officer so it’s like I had the best of both worlds.
Sadly, I suffered two huge losses in the same neighborhood – my uncle was killed due to gang activity in 2010 and my step dad was killed in the line of duty the year after. [Through] constantly having to avoid trouble and try my best to not to become a statistic, L-Town has definitely shaped my character in unmeasurable ways.
How has Chicago’s music scene influenced the work that you do?
Chicago’s music scene has influenced my craft tremendously. Our rich history in music and legends that we produced all inspire me to create. Chicago music plays a major role in music culture today, even though we don’t all the credit we deserve. I’m just trying to add my name to the list of legends.
You were exposed to a wide range of music growing up. Who or what in your life was pushing different genres in your direction?
My mom and family had a huge influence in the music I was exposed to. With my family being as big as it is, everyone had their own choice of music but it all merged together. My mom and I also travelled a lot and that exposed me to many different cultures and genres of music.
With all those different music types, what drew you to hip hop and R&B?
Even though I was exposed to all genres, my overall upbringing was flourished with hip hop and R&B. It’s like my natural habitat you can say. That doesn’t mean that’s the only genre I want to create, because I hope to collaborate and create with artist from all genres someday.
Some people have made arguments that R&B is shifting or almost dying out, in a way, due to the high volume of hip hop infused in the genre today. What are your thoughts on that?
I think R&B can never die out…it can only evolve. So much of today’s hip hop and rap is influenced by R&B – with the melodies and harmonies you could never say it’s dying out. [But] I do think we need more R&B that’s mainstream now.
You wrote your first song in 4th grade. What about that song inspired you to keep creating?
I’ve always loved music. I’d always perform songs that I’d hear on the radio and songs I saw on tv. So in 4th grade there was this one girl who I was crazy over and since I wasn’t the best looking guy at the time, lol, I decided it would be clever to make my own rap for her. I thought it would make me cool like Lil Bow Wow was at the time. It definitely didn’t work that way because she laughed at me, but it was still a some dope bars! Once I realized I could rhyme and flow, it was murder she wrote and I’ve been writing ever since.
What was the inspiration behind “Lately?” What has the feedback been like?
My main inspiration behind “Lately” was my cousin Shon Martin who actually produced the beat. He’s like the “40” to my inner Drake. He sent me the beat one evening and it made me think about all the things I’ve experienced in life thus far, my current outlook on life, and where I hope to be in the future. With the addition of some liquor and a few other vices, I created “Lately” 45 minutes after he first sent me the beat.
The feedback has been amazing, as it’s the leading song from my new project. I dropped a video for it that’s almost at 2K views and we’ve got a few radio spins and playlist additions so I just want to keep the ball rolling.
Tell me about how you fell in love with teaching and coaching.
The teachers and coaches that I had throughout my lifetime is what gave me the passion. They all played such an important role in my life that it inspired me to want to do the same for others. There’s no better reward than knowing I helped someone better their life or inspired them to do something positive. Even though I don’t currently teach or coach anymore, I keep in contact with my students that have graduated high school via social media frequently.
How is creativity helping you cope during coronavirus?
Believe it or not, I actually tested positive for Covid-19 not too long ago and I’m blessed to say I won the battle. It has been the most humbling experience I’ve had thus far, but I’m thankful because it connected me with the higher power and restored a faith that I had lost. It’s like I see life in a new light now and I’m inspired more than ever to create and tell my story. This lockdown also got me closer to family and loved ones which fuels my drive as an artist.
What do you think is missing from today’s music landscape?
Love. I think we need to spread more messages about love and unity. We have to make it cool again to have fun, spread love and embrace one another.
Who are your biggest influences musically?
My biggest influences musically are Kanye West, Wiz Khalifa, and Trey Songz. All of their works inspired me to create music of my own.
What other mediums, genres, or art forms make up part of your creative identity?
Outside of music I love to act and do improve skits. I also enjoy fashion which I believe is a huge artist expression. I think the creation of food is an art as well, and because I love to eat it plays a major role in my creative identity.
What’s next for you?
I just released my new album “Only Way Is Up” which features “Lately” and 10 other super dope tracks. My second single “Tell Me Nothing” is getting great reviews as well as radio play and there’s a new video out for it as well. It’s available on all digital media outlets so I’d love everyone to take a listen. I appreciate Vocalo for adding “Lately” to their May playlists and I hope that I can make it to many more. I hope everyone is staying safe and blessings to you all!
LucKey has put together a few songs deeply meaningful to him. Listen here:
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Interview Edited For Length & Clarity By Shelby Kluver