His young career has seen its share of controversies, but he's determined to become the next great hip hop mogul.
It's been a whirlwind of a week for YFN Lucci. That Atlanta rapper has been embroiled in yet another war of words with rival Young Thug and his girlfriend Jerrika Karlae as the rappers' beef has resurfaced. Accusations and threats have made their way through social media, which is surprising because if you ask Lucci, his main priorities involve creating a legacy that will continue for decades to come.
The 28-year-old has been staking his claim in the music industry for five years, ever since he inked a record deal in 2014 and dropped his first project, a mixtape titled Wish Me Well. That was followed up by two more mixtapes, another three EPs, an LP, over three million Instagram followers, and chart-topping hits. Lucci's Migos and Trouble-assisted platinum single "Key to the Streets" has over 83 million views on YouTube, while his certified gold single "Everyday We Lit" featuring PnB Rock climbed its way to No. 33 on the Billboard 100 chart.
Most recently, Lucci was able to check an item off of his bucket list by his collaborating with DJ Drama on a project titled 650Luc: Gangsta Grillz. For an artist with only five years in the spotlight, Lucci has made quite the impression on veterans in the industry. He's worked with artists including T.I., Rick Ross, 2 Chainz, Fabolous, Jeezy, Quavo, 21 Savage, Boosie Badazz, Trey Songz, and many others who are respected and revered. Not every rising rapper can say they have their own installment of Gangsta Grillz, but Lucci claims linking up with Drama for the album wasn't as complicated as it may have seemed.
"It was just something I thought about one day," he said coyly. "I was like, 'I'm finna call DJ Drama.' I called and he was like, 'Sh*t, let's do it.' He was like, 'Pull up on me tomorrow.' I pulled up on him the next day and we went through the tracklist and started picking songs." Getting the album together wasn't a long, drawn-out process because Lucci, being the hard-working man that he is, already had his tracks on deck.
The rapper's work ethic is something that has been instilled in him prior to his life in the public eye. However, it has been reinforced by artists who have navigated the industry longer than the rapper-singer. He admitted that there have been plenty of artists who "gave him some game," but the words of his friend and collaborator Yo Gotti stayed with him. "Gotti told me the game about longevity," Lucci mentioned. "You gotta know how to keep the fans in tune with you. It's the lifestyle, the music. It's just everything. It ain't all about rap, he let me know that. And it's about relationship. He told me that when I first came in the game."
Longevity is a topic that many young artists speak about, as they hope to duplicate the long-standing careers of entertainers they admire. Depending on who you ask, the measurement of success will vary. Some find luxury cars, designer clothes, and expensive jewelry to show one's achievements in life. Others, however, lean more to power, respect, and influence on the culture. Lucci often talks about wanting to achieve longevity, and he clarified what that means to him during our conversation.
"You got sh*t going like Jay [Z]," he stated, adding that it isn't just about making new hits but creating opportunities. "There's a lot of artists that still got sh*t going or still in the game or still relevant like T.I., 50 Cent, [Lil] Wayne. There's a lot of people...You gotta know it ain't just music. You gotta invest. You gotta create your own product. You gotta sign artists. You gotta be an entrepreneur."
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In the meantime, as he continues to create those power move moments that will hopefully land his name on the Mount Rushmore of Moguls, Lucci continues to do what he does best: make music. He recently released the visual to his 650Luc track "All Night Long" featuring Trey Songz, a sensuous single that samples Case's 2001 classic R&B jam, "Missing You." Lucci laughed as he called the Edgar Stevens-directed video "grown and sexy" adding that "the girls were beautiful and everything was a vibe."
He does insist that he's more than what the unfavorable headlines make him out to be. Prior to his public verbal battle with Thugger, Lucci's romance with Reginae Carter was a social media staple. If people are willing to look beyond the Cucumber Challenge drama, the on-again-off-again relationship gossip, the frightening news of a drive-by, and even the music, they'd find a family-oriented man whose main priority is to take care of his loved ones while enjoying the fruits of his labor.
"I be with my kids every day. My kids love staying with they daddy," he said modestly. "That's really it. I be on top of my sh*t. I ain't no bad person just 'cause I like to have fun. I should be able to enjoy this sh*t. I worked hard for all of this sh*t. The media gon' put whatever they wanna put out, but ain't gon' put out the good sh*t. I handle my business. I take care of my family."
After he tours out 650Luc, there's new music on the horizon in the form of the next chapter of his Wish Me Well series. According to Lucci, Wish Me Well 3 is completed, but he wouldn't offer up any further details than just that about the mixtape. "I really don't want to say the wrong thing," he said with a smile. "I be doin' interviews [and] telling people when it's coming and I don't want to keep telling people when it's coming and I don't know when it's coming. But I got the music. It's done. I ain't working on Wish Me Well 3. If I'm in the studio, I'm working on something else. Wish Me Well 3 is done [and] ready to come out, it's just up to the label to let me know when we gon' put it out." And we'll be waiting.
Make sure to check out Lucci kicking it with us for our Snack Review series below.