ATL UNTRAPPED: LoKii AD is taking everything you’ve got
The Eastside artist embraces his duality with a fiery new record
TICK. TICK. TICK. TICK. TICK. TICK. TICK. TICK.
For the first six seconds of LoKii AD’s latest single, “Juug,” the sound of a clock is all that reverberates throughout an otherwise empty soundscape. Time is ticking, setting a tone of urgency that builds as soon as the 20-year-old artist delivers the cold opening lines — “I got folks in the 6, folks in the 1/Bro in the 3 hit the coast like Lebron/Big bro in the hills, lil bro in the slums/They down to pull up whenever I want.”
A nod to the scamming, robbing, and finessing that LoKii witnessed while growing up in DeKalb County, “Juug” perfectly captures the frantic energy of its subject matter and features an exuberant hook that channels a bittersweet fondness for what many listeners know all too well.
“I remember when I was four or five years old, I was outside when somebody literally walked up and stole someone’s AC unit,” he says, laughing. “I was just watching it happen until my uncle finally told me to go back inside.”
No longer the naive bystander of his childhood in Redan, LoKii embodies the chaos around him on his latest single, sharing stories over its sinister synths. Tongue-twisting wordplay parallels the expositions about his studies at Georgia Tech and time spent working at UPS with sly references to guns and drug dealing. Initially, LoKii appears to be a good kid trapped in a mad city, but after meeting with him, it’s clear that he’s actually the one facilitating the stickup. What he wants is your immediate attention and support.
Born Antonio Lucas, LoKii AD is a producer, singer, rapper, and songwriter who specializes in creating trap-inspired R&B and lyrically robust hip-hop. Inspired by both his low-key nature as well as the Norse god Loki, his stage name is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the duality that characterizes his existence as an artist and a young man.
“I kind of relate to the god of mischief because my mellow attitude is deceiving,” LoKii says. “If you see me in public and go back and listen to some of my tracks, you’ll think, ‘Dang, is this the same dude?’”
Yet somehow, it is the same dude. LoKii studies mechanical engineering at Georgia Tech while simultaneously knocking out performances at events featuring well-known rising hip-hop and R&B acts such as Wave Chapelle, Melodik, and Josh Waters. It’s incredible how his warring worlds intersect so gracefully, but LoKii has a lot of experience in code-switching.
Throughout his primary and secondary education, he sidestepped the typical school-to-school pipeline that most of his classmates followed. He attended elementary school at Eldridge L. Miller, middle school at Stephenson, and high school at Arabia Mountain. As a result, he became comfortable being the new kid.
“All my life I’ve been used to starting over,” LoKii admits. “Every single time, I had to make completely brand-new friends. I had to readjust and adapt [[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[in order] to try and find a way to mesh with new people.”
Applying those tactics to his music, he began to approach his diverging interests in rap and R&B as if they were different languages, ultimately separating the two sides of his musical identity in his output. Although he had built a buzz on his Instagram by posting well-received freestyle videos, LoKii opted to release the R&B-laden record M T last summer. The project didn’t feature any rapping from the Redan-bred artist, but it gained steam nevertheless.
“After I put out M T, I was really just putting out R&B for about six months,” he says. “I told myself that I’ve gotta go back to all of who I am.”
Now — due to the mischievous satisfaction he gets from twisting the expectations of his listeners, an inward yearning to show off his lyrical chops, and the turn of a new decade — LoKii has embraced his duality as a singer and a rapper in “Juug,” his first statement of 2020. The explosive two-minute single, delivered alongside a companion music video, amassed over 13,000 views in the first month.
The brainchild of LoKii and his cousin Khalid Johnson, the video showcases the 20-year-old’s deep cultural roots in DeKalb and experiences attending college at Georgia Tech. Clips of Glenwood Road and a Mrs. Winners restaurant add character to the visual just as much as the scenes shot on Tech’s campus, with pop-culture references to Pulp Fiction and King Vader’s viral videos adding welcome doses of comedy and stylistic flare.
For the Eastside artist, now is not the time to rest. Hard at work on his most versatile project yet, LoKii is eyeing a fall release for the upcoming record but reveals that additional singles are scheduled to release over the coming weeks and months.
An artist who envisions platinum plaques and Grammy nominations on the horizon, LoKii AD’s set-up is clear when he recites the final line of “Juug”: “We finna hit, I got a hunch.” Whether or not you’re cool with it, he’s taking your streams, your views, and everything you’ve got to help him reach his dreams.
Give it up — the clock is ticking.