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Friday, June 28, 2013


For the people who didn't crush the SAT out there, the word "lucid" is defined as "characterized by clear perception or understanding." (Shout out to A better word couldn't describe the next featured rapper in this series, Lucid-Lu. Real name Zack Lucas, and coming straight outta Montreal, he says he raps just "trying to get respect for what I’ve done with Hip-Hop, 'cause I guarantee my shits unique, and more importantly, real." For all you 'Muricans out there, you gotta pay attention to Montreal: our Canadian brethren bring it, and that'll be true for the next featured group, Lux Continuum, from Toronto. This won't be that musical baby powder, Drake style. 

When Lucid uses the word "unique" to describe his style, he couldn't be more right. On the song "Life Of A Zombie," you can hear the beat flip multiple times, and every time Lucid flips up his delivery and flow to make the rap and beat match. Check it out:

Around 2:42, the beat flips and becomes all percussion, with no melody or harmony in the beat. At that point, Lucid switches his flow to come a lot harder by changing up his pacing. Pacing is a conscious variation over time of how complex (or simple) a rapper's rhythms and rhymes are. Rhythms can be really fast, using a lot of syllables, or slow, by making each rapped syllable last longer. They can also be complex, such as by using complex rhythms like quintuplets like Andre 3K does here or MF DOOM does here. A lot of rappers who haven't been doing it long don't have good pacing: they always come too strong with too much complexity, or come too soft by rapping too simply. 

But Lucid plays it smart by making use of pacing. Before the beat flip, Lu's been pretty consistent throughout the rest of the song. He's had complex rhymes before, such as at the start: "No sadness in the life of a ZOMBIE, I WANder CALMLY as my granite HEART BEATS / SOFTLY." (All of the rhymes are capitalized.) It's more complex because there are more rhymes in a shorter amount of space, and they don't always come in the same rhythmic position. But they're balanced out by the familiar 1 or 2 syllable end rhymes, which fits the beat well because the beat isn't going hard, like a DMX track. For example, soon after that previous line, Lucid raps, "The sun beats on my dead FLESH no talking shit to Jah / 'cause I'm the opposite of BLESSED."

But then at the beat flip he drops what's probably the nicest line in the rap, and had me rewinding that part over and over: "I aWOKE from a state of COMaTOSE with a SWOllen NOSE." Lucid already has good command of a principle that a lot of beginners could improve their rap from: pacing. He displays his mastery on other songs as well, such as on "L.I.B.A.D." That song is also sick because of Lucid-Lu's hard delivery in a cappella. Once again, no baby powder.

Plus, Lucid's innate ability of always finding the right flow to match a beat, and always freaking and finessing it, reminds me of Lil Wayne circa the first Carter album. The myriad amount of flows Lu has, and his ability to always leave his individual, unique mark on a track, reminds me of Andre 3K as well. You can see that on the different flows he brings between "Fin Du Monde," which is a slower, double time beat, while "Life Of A Zombie" is a faster beat, with a tempo around 94 beats per minute.

After listening to all of Lucid's tracks on his Soundcloud, which you can find here, Lucid strikes me as someone who's never gonna fall off Jay-Z or Lil Wayne style, or will ever make a dud track. In that sense he's like The Roots' Black Thought; they're both students of the music. All of his tracks are really consistent, and you can just play the first Soundcloud track and let the rest play all the way through. When he puts together a full, single-concept album, it will be a classic in the style of Illmatic or The Blueprint, and not in the style of today's mixtapes that bring a lot of different concepts that don't have too much to do with each other. (I'm also not saying one approach is better than another.) 

Lucid's willingness to address uncomfortable subjects in ways that rap is often afraid to reminds me of Kendrick Lamar as well, such as on Lucid's "Cold Roam." He raps, "Been getting fucked up too OFTEN / abused THOUGHTS BEEN, until my brain cells view COFFINS." 

And Lucid-Lu makes a lot of use of ad libs and just talking over a beat, not rapping. You can see it towards the end of his song "Cold Roam," and at the end of "Life Of A Zombie." On that second song, we've got some of the funniest ad libs since Jean Grae's. Expect Lucid to eventually make use of different voices and impersonations in his rap, such as Eminem does on tons of his songs, but particularly "Real Slim Shady." 

Check out an interview with him below.

Composer's Corner: How did you get into writing rap?

Lucid-Lu:  I’ve been rapping for about 2 years now, and I started on a whim. I was 19 on break as a janitor and had this instrumental on my phone. Figured I’d try n write something and ended up filling the entire 4 minute beat. Before I knew anything about bars or song structure It’s was like 1 run on sentence. Showed it to some homies, ended up recording it and people seemed to like it. 

2 years later I’m Lucid-Lu, The rapper, from Montreal. Just trying to get respect for what I’ve done with Hip-Hop. Cause I guarantee my shits unique more importantly real. Now my goal is to polish the shit out of it, when I accomplish that there’s no stopping me. As for why I do this? Many reasons, sometimes I’m not even sure why. But yo, check out my debut ep “The Precum” for some dope hip-hop and get to know Lu. 

Composer's Corner: When you start writing rap, do you start with the rhythm or the text (the words themselves)?

Lucid-Lu:   For me the first bar on any song is usually off the top, I’ll say the first thing that comes to mind. After that it really depends on the beat and what opinion or emotion I’m trying to get across. So once I get that first bar down, I’ve got the choice to in either direction. If I choose rhythm then I’m most likely writing a track to flex da flow muscles and be more musically creative. And if it’s the text that I choose, then I’m focusing more on how to say something in a creative way. But this is all in retrospect, while I’m writing it I’m not even aware, I just do what feels natural. 

Composer's Corner: How do you write your rhymes?Do you carry around a notebook? Do you write your rhymes on the computer, or on paper?

Lucid-Lu:   It’s more of an impulse like “I need to take a shit” or “I’m thirsty” instead it’s “I should rhyme right now”.  And it’ll always happen while I’m on the bus or have a deadline to be somewhere.  I’m not good at just sitting down and finishing a song A to Z, that rarely happens. Usually I’ll write a track in bits throughout the course of a couple days, weeks even months. All in random spots at random times. I swear it feels like it’s out of my hands some times, That’s why I write everything on my cell. If I lose that cell… There’s been a series of small miracles keeping me with that phone, but it’s only a matter of time. Props on planning out your writing sessions tho, that’s next for me. 

Composer's Corner: What musical training do you have? Can you play an instrument, for how long, which one? Can you read music? Can you sing?

Lucid-Lu:   I can’t do any of those things. I read your Jean Grae interview where she explained how much playing an instrument can help you approach vocal melodies from a different musical perspective. But man, I meant to get around to it and I WILL. But I’m loafing.

Composer's Corner: Who's your favorite rapper? Who's your favorite producer?

Lucid-Lu: 2pac, for a couple reasons:


He was the first rapper I ever discovered long before I ever considered doing it myself. I was maybe 12-13. Found the “2pac & Outlawz: Still I Rise” disc in my parents collection. After that I rented 2pac resurrection,  got all the neighbours and sh** into it. I guess it’s the nostalgia.

-Raw Emotion

I think Pac was one of the best a conveying that. He may not have always had the most intricate flows but didn’t at al take away from the impact of his verses. All though don’t consider him the best rapper, I do think he’s most peoples favourite.  

-In terms of producers, that’s a really hard question.  But I’d say Dilla. That “Purple” beat.. That” Electric relaxation” beat.. That “Won’t do” beat.. “The Light”?! You can’t ignore those, plus look at how influential he is to many of the current great producers. 

Composer's Corner: When you write rhymes, do you always write them to the beat? Or do you write the rhymes, and then try to find a beat to match them?

Lucid-Lu:   I always write them to a beat. Of course always that line that pops into your head out of nowhere (which you jot down quick), but that’s never more than a couple bars.

Composer's Corner: When you put the rhymes and beat together, is that it? Or do you back and forth between the two to make them work better together?What's the process?


Lucid-Lu: Write/edit the entire track ---> Record/Mix it ---> Let it sit for a few days, maybe get a few opinions ---> If incomplete back to step 1/ If good, Finalize process. 

That’s the gist of it. 

Composer's Corner: In your opinion, is rap music, poetry, or both?

Lucid-Lu: It’s music that can be poetry.