INKED Exclusive Interview With YFN Lucci
Photography by Peter Roesssler @shootmepeter
In a time when many people feel that music is overwrought with “mumble rappers” or innumerable Hip Hop clones, there are always some standouts that make you stop, look and rethink that bias. Atlanta’s YFN Lucci is making his presence known beyond his appearance or memorable vocal style with a work ethic that surpasses most in the game.
With his debut album Ray RayFrom Summerhill, YFN Lucci is hopeful that people will recognize his staying power. While it may be his first official LP, the young songwriter has a string of successful mixtapes and EPs under his belt.Collaborations with hitmakers like Lil Wayne, 2Chainz, YoGotti, Migos,Boosie and more have graced past projects; while the new album boasts appearances from T.I., Wale, Meek Mill, Offset, Dreezy and fellow YFN artist Trae Pound.
Inked Magazine sat down with Lucci during his photo shoot in our NYC office to discuss the long road he’s traveled, the reasons behind why he and his T.I.G. label team are so tight, and how he’s keeping his eyes on the prize for the future.
Inked: You’ve been making music for about a decade now, and rapping professionally for about five years.Some people might think you just got successful overnight… but what was it like for you to be on the grind to where you are today?
YFN Lucci: When you ain’t where you wanna be, it puts you in a tight situation, so you’ve gottahit the road. I didn’t really have a lot of money. When you’re out if money, that breaks certain people down like “I’m gonna go back home.” I stayed down like, we’re gonna hit every city, shake every person’s hand, and talk to everybodyI can, let them know it’s me. We went everywhere. We were just grinding for my first mixtape, passing out CDs… old fashioned street team.
Bigga Rankin was the master behind all that. He had it all mapped out like “This is what we’re gonna do”. When I met him and played all my songs, I had all my friends in the studio singing all my songs word for word and he said “I never seen that. I done been everywhere and everybody’s homeboy ain’t singing their shit. Even if that’s your homeboy, if the song ain’t fire you ain’t gonna sing every word.”I mean, they sang every word! That just made him fuck with me and after that he seen that grind in my like I told him and I got what it takes. I ain’t stopping.
Inked: So you feel like you’re proving people right for believing in you?
YFN Lucci: I didn’t have any believers at first, so I made people believe and let them know this is what I’m gonna do. I’ve been checking for this since I was young.
Inked:How does it feel now at this stage of the game for you to be in a partnership with a major, now your personal business put on TMZ and God knows where else, and people having to apologize for things they say on your songs to entire communities of people? You’re in the spotlight officially…
YFN Lucci: It’s my job, and what I came in the game to do. Every big rapper is in the spotlight. I can’t run from it, so I just gotta do right, stay on the right path, and don’t fuck up. I know everybody’s watching me. Keep watching me, I’m doing good. [smiles]As long as you got your eyes on me you gonna see me doing good.
Inked:You have a very tight-knit team. How did you go about saying this is the right person for my team for the long run?
YFN Lucci: You can just feel it. You can know who wants it, who believes in you, who’s with you. My whole team is here for me, and they make sure I’m good. I love them not just on business but personal. They check on me, follow me home… these my boys. You can feel it, it’s just a feeling. You be around people long enough to know like “He good. He’s with me.”
Inked: It makes you wonder how some people can make such bad decisions, like can’t they see that person’s not good for them?
YFN Lucci: Yeah, and sometimes it’s drugs… some of them just be so drugged up that they see it, but they aren’t going to catch it. I’m not in it for the drugs… I smoke but that’s it.
Inked:How real is that for you to see your friends or associates go through being addicted to drugs?
YFN Lucci: I used to drink lean, but I stopped. I always had that mind frame where like I don’t do junk just to be cool. I did lean because I really liked it, but the it made me mad at people sometimes, made me tire, acting lazy, so I stopped it.
Growing up, I sold, I did stuff, I hustled, so that’s what I rap about. That’s why I stopped it. I’m a hustler. I get money so I’m gonna make sure we straight and get us out of this. Watching folks do that, I had to encourage my people like “Aye, we ain’t do that. No more of that addiction. We ain’t on nothing.” and they listened. We all listen to each other. That’s why I speak it in my music so hopefully I can get the whole world to listen.
Inked:Do you feel a responsibility not only to lead your team but to lead the youth?
YFN Lucci: Yes, because I have kids, little brothers, a whole community that I grew up in where there’s young kids that look up to me. I had friends that overdose on drugs. I had friends’ mamas strung out on drugs. I want to teach my youngins like “You don’t have to do that bruh. There’s a way out the hood. I ain’t gonna tell you what you can’t sell or do but you be smart. Don’t be addicted to nothing but money.”
Inked:Since we are here shooting you for Inked, tell us about your tattoos and your favorite piece you have. What makes it special?
YFN Lucci:My favorite piece would probably be my thug life tattoo on my chest because like Tupac. My mother and my step-daddy loved Tupac so I’m used to hearing it. The way I got my fans. My fans love me. I don’t talk about smoking weed and all that. I teach people. That’s what Pac used to do. And it does make me feel like I’m Pac [laughs ]
Inked:You do have some space here and there on your arms. Are you looking to get full sleeves?
YFN Lucci:Yeah, I gotta fill it up. It hurts, I ain’tgonna lie. I got a lot of them, but it hurts.
Inked: Are you a person who gets off on the pain of it?
YFN Lucci: Yeah, I like the pain sometimes but sometimes I’ll wait and go back like “cool”.[laughs]
Inked:You’ve had a number ofmixtapes, consistently putting out mixtapes, millions of streams on Spotify and fans around the world. What do you want fans to know about you with this album?
YFN Lucci:With this album, I just want them to know that I work very hard. I love what I do. I love my music and put everything in it. I want them to know that I’m giving more details of my life. I’m telling them more about me. I’m letting them get to know me more, so I want them to just got get it, hear it, and let it sink and be like, “I fuck with him man. I can tell he took his time and he’s talking to us. He ain’t just rapping, he’s talking to us.”
Inked:You’ve done some pretty big collaborations so far, but if you can collaborate with anyone who’s alive who would it be?
YFN Lucci: I ain’t got one with Drake, so I’m waiting on that one.
Inked:What do you want people to know most about you as a man at this stage of your life?
YFN Lucci: I respect others, love my mother, my family, I handle my business. I want you to know that I don’t take nothing for granted. I appreciate everything, and I want to be great. I want to be one of the greatest and talked about forever.