Chicago’s hip hop market is wide open. It has been for some time but as SoundCloud has progressed in features and popularity, music fans have a better ability to discover new sounds coming out of their respective cities. SoundCloud has been an amazing tool for flowsfordays; and continues to be.
Young Chicago artist Lukas G has been on my radar ever since he dropped his first loosie on SoundCloud…unfortunately I didn’t keep up with him. It wasn’t until a friend reposted the New Kingz/Glassic & Syd Shaw song Through The Wind that I discovered Lukas was 1/2 of the duo.
Their sound was fresh; they complimented one another so well. They had excellent collaborators, and they were showing up on all relevant Chicago hip hop websites. Since then I’ve watched the New Kingz’s progression, but had a keen eye on their individual songs. While Ali is an incredible emcee, Lukas had a sound I was a little more drawn to.
After the These Days premiere of NK’s HUGE new single I Kno, I was inspired to reach out to Lukas. He kindly agreed to take the time to answer some of my questions. He is an inspired soul, influenced by a range of artists, more specifically: Lupe Fiasco, Eminem, Lil Wayne, Outkast, MF Doom and Young Thug. I knew I liked this guy.
New Kingz is taking off, but Lukas has a lot in store as a solo artist. A few days ago, right after Lukas got out of class, he gave us his story.
Photo Credit: @jermangos
Hey Lukas. Thanks for taking the time to talk with us. How’s your night going?
Pretty good! I’m just getting out of class so I’m ready to chill for the night.
Ah nice. What school do you go to?
I’m out here at Howard University in Washington DC.
But you’re from Chicago right?
Yessir I’m from the Southside. I used to live deep on the east Southside but now I live a few minutes away from Hyde Park.
Got it. What was it like growing up there?
It was tough at first man; the area I moved to was pretty rough. And when I starting taking public transportation there were definitely a lot of things I had to watch out for. But as I grew older the low end (where I live) starting going through gentrification and its surrounding areas started to change. I was never in too much danger though. I stayed home a lot and I wasn’t someone who was always just out roaming the city.
Did that have any impact on your music or your decision to take a go at music?
Oh of course (laughs.) Life in the hood definitely makes you want to strive in whatever your passion is. “Putting on” for the people you care about sounds cliche but I can guarantee you so many rappers go hard with that in mind. I come from a musical background and living on the Southside definitely encouraged me to pursue my goals to the fullest.
What is your musical background? I’m guessing you’re talking about some of your family.
Absolutely. My father is a church organist but he knows how to play like every instrument ever and he taught me basically everything I know about piano, bass, and drums (the trilogy of crucial instruments). My aunt is a well renown opera singer. She has some of the greatest vocals that I have heard in my life and she helped me hone my singing talents.
That is amazing. So how old were you when you got into music? When did you put out your first song? Also how old are you now?
I got into music when Lil Wayne dropped his Fireman music video. Like I was definitely already listening to rap and soul and gospel and everything and I was a musician, but Fireman inspired me to write. I didn’t think I was hard enough to be a rapper so I started writing anything else I could from short stories to poems. It wasn’t until high school that I really tapped into rapping. I recorded my first song Sophomore year with some of my homies, I guess I was 15 at the time? I’m 20 right now and I’ll be 21 on Pearl Harbor day.
That’s so interesting…my first editorial on the site was about how I first got into hip hop with Fireman. Were you inspired by his mixtape run?
Yo that’s insane! The song was so incredible and all three verses were fire (laughs) I know the lyrics by heart. But absolutely, I was hella inspired by Carter 2 obviously but Da Drought 3 and Dedication 2 are ridiculous mix tapes. Wayne took over the rap game for years and he definitely inspired me.
Photo Credit: @duuber
Absolutely…he will go down as one of the hardest working rappers in history. Let’s get into your music. You’re apart of the New Kingz collective, but you’re also a solo artist. Tell us about the collective, when and how it got started and if solo work or group work came first.
Basically I was a solo artist before New Kingz, me and Ali both were. I used to organize and sometimes participate in rap battles with my crew. Me and Ali were cool at that time but we were in different friend groups. Our mutual homie Joose (our manager) suggested that we work collab together. New Kingz first track was HUSSLEBBY and it was just me and Ali spitting as crazily as we could over the OG Bobby Johnson instrumental. Everyone at our high school was rocking to it and we realized we had great chemistry in the studio. Then we just kept it going from there.
Where does the name New Kingz come from?
The name New Kingz is representative of the message we were (and still are) pushing when me and Ali started to consistently make music together. We believed that we needed to be producing music that inspired the community to see the royalty in themselves as people while giving those same people the motivation to overcome any negative situation they may be dealing with. Most of our earlier tracks that we’ve taken off SoundCloud especially embodied these things. We’re all kings and queens and we decided that it was time to work toward a new wave of love and respect and empowerment.
You guys are very respected in Chicago and get posts on all the city’s hip hop sites. How did you gain that respect? Have you done any shows?
Yeah man that respect comes from hard work and getting our faces out there. Ali and I have performed at various open mics around the city separately and together as New Kingz. It’s important to build up that support system through the city. Blogs won’t always post you if no one listens to your product. And yeah we’ve done a few shows. One of our biggest was when we performed at Schuba’s for an Oak Cellar Door event. Performing is such an important aspect of what we do.
I definitely want to catch one of your shows. Is anything coming up?
As of right now I believe Ali will be performing at the Canopy Club in Urbana on December 6. We’ll definitely be posting some more dates soon
Awesome…I’ll be looking out for that info. You guys just dropped “I Kno,” which is one of the best tracks I think you’ve ever put out. Is that a loosie or will that be on an upcoming project? If not…is a full album in the works?
Honestly, I like I Kno a lot man. It’s concept came from a really genuine place and the way Ali, Dougy and I worked on it was so organic. Not to mention its replay value. I love everything we’ve put out before I Kno of course but I Kno is also a representation of where me and Ali currently are artistically. Fans of New Kingz and even new listeners are really going to enjoy our upcoming drops, you can’t begin to imagine our plans for the Winter. As far as dropping a project … maybe.
Haha damn you really want to use the surprise element. You’ve worked with Dougy before…how did you link up with him? Why do you like working with him?
Hahaha you already know. And yeah actually Ali started working with him first (tracks like Shine and Veronica Mars) and I eventually met him and found out how cold he is. The first Dougy beat I ever got on was the instrumental for Pledge Allegiance. Ever since then collaboration with Dougy has been a must. He’s a beast. He understands music in such a similar way I do that it was hard not for us to click.
Yeah I can really hear that in your tracks. The beats he gives you guys compliments both of you so well. Just to wrap up…can you tell us any details of what’s coming next for New Kingz or even just yourself?
A lot of music, solo loosies, New Kingz loosies, a bunch of new stuff will be dropping over the next few months! The sound is only getting better. Make sure you’re on the lookout!
That’s so exciting. Any last thoughts, shout outs, or words of wisdom?
I love Chicago’s music scene right now. So much diversity, so much creativity. To any artists that might be reading this, keep grinding. Keep putting out dope product. The world is starting to recognize Chicago’s music scene again and it’s just really incredible to be a part of that. S/O to everyone that rocks with New Kingz!!
That’s such a great closing statement. You definitely put on for the city and it’s great to see. Thanks for your time!