Every month, Consequence proudly puts the spotlight on an artist who’s poised for the big time with our CoSign accolade. For February 2024, we’re diving into the artistic mind of LUCI and her debut full-length album They Say They Love You.
LUCI hasn’t always been the best rule-follower. “I had lunch with one of my old art teachers recently, and we were just laughing about how I didn’t listen as an art student,” the musician tells Consequence. “I’d take the criteria and bend it, all the time, at any and all costs. It’s like, you give a class an art project, and you’ve got 20 to 30 kids doing basically the same painting. I always hated that. I don’t want my piece to look like everyone else’s.”
It’s not that LUCI didn’t enjoy art class. As affable as she is today, the North Carolina native recalls spending much of her early upbringing making visual art alone in her bedroom, going on to graduate from a 6-12 art school in Charlotte in 2015; now based in Brooklyn, she still paints regularly. She sees her music not so much as a separate pursuit, but more as an extension of herself as an artist. Her debut LP They Say They Love You is no exception.
Broadly speaking, LUCI’s music falls under the hip-hop umbrella, her voice blending the nimble delivery of her rap heroes with a scorching croon that could stop you in your tracks. She began writing the seeds of her first songs around age 10, informed by radio hits from Lil Wayne and Soulja Boy: “I realized I wanted to write catchy songs,” she says. “I wanted to write songs that made people dance and made people want to repeat it. I thought, ‘Why do I keep singing the same songs over again? How do the songs get stuck in my head?’”
And while that ethos drives the majority of LUCI’s music, that only begins to scratch the surface with the palate of They Say They Love You. The dreamy, romantic “11:11” hinges on a colorful pop beat that feels like dancing through city streets at midnight; “Call Jane” takes on the dark, mysterious edge of gothic rock as she seamlessly flits between rapping and spellbinding yowl; “Rockwitchu” sounds like what Portishead’s Dummy might’ve sounded like if it was recorded today. “I used to think, ‘oh, I’m gonna do a rap album, and then I’m gonna do a folk album, but I also want to do a rock album,’” she says. “And I always felt like they had to be a different project.”
Thematically, much of They Say They Love You centers around LUCI’s experience navigating the music industry as a queer Black woman: “‘Hip-hop saved me’/ But look who’s saving hip-hop!” she boasts on “Martyr,” a track about the commodification of Black Americans’ culture. Its chorus immediately calls to mind the centuries-old Arabian riff, a melody that’s been co-opted by white composers who muddle its Northern African origins.