At his creative best, LUCKI paints a fractured self portrait. Behind the cool veneer of a rising rap star is a timid, anti-social icon, drowning out the limelight by lowering his inhibitions, even to the point of nodding off in Nobu.

Mononymously LUCKI, Lucki Camel Jr. is disenchanted by sex, money and drugs – the only things that can keep his attention. The lights blind him. The drugs squint his eyes and dim the flash. The money makes rap inescapable. His solution: more milligrams, more pints, more pain.

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In yet another tribute to a classic album, Lucki’s latest album, s*x m*ney dr*gs, is modeled after Lil’ Kim’s Hard Core. Though LUCKI trades Kim and Biggie’s weed coping mechanism for pain killers and Cristal for Actavis, both albums feverishly revolve around vice and self-indulgence. In tribute to the sexually-deviant songstress (never forget “Intro in A-Minor”), LUCKI pastes a bright pink sidebar on the cover of s*x m*ney dr*gs to alleviate your worries; he’s no stranger to gluttony when it comes to his triad of sin.

s*x m*ney dr*gs, alternatively known as (SMD; acknowledged to be a double-entendre), is the most detached LUCKI’s been since 2017’s Watch My Back. He’s sluggish; his cadence bounces, and like a flattening sine wave, his voice staggers towards monotony. LUCKI’s an unreliable narrator, and through various low-tone grumbles and groans, he draws snapshots from his scattered memory in hopes to redeem his own self-worth.

On “Tunevert,” LUCKI goes from “crashing out in Soho to waking up in Beverly,” rapping on bars of Xanax, so much so that his neighbors are suspicious he’s back to trapping himself. He’s drinking sludge in honor of his incarcerated slime (“FREE SEX!”), he’s “so geeked up you’d think it’s cap” on “No Bap,” specifically “60mg,” as he denotes on the hook of “Mubu.” Constantly fluctuating between manic and depressive, s*x m*ney dr*gs copes with LUCKI’s newfound fame by unleashing years’ worth of repressed memories and demanding beats.

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LUCKI’s caught in-between success and delusion, glistening music library samples and emotional suppression. Everyone wants him to revel in his accomplishments, but LUCKI doesn’t think he’s working hard enough. Even as he explains this internal conflict on “Super Ski”: “Pretty girl been on my bad side, she trying to stay in the house now / I’m trying to pass my idols up, I’m a fan favorite and a bad guy,” LUCKI feels disillusioned by everyone but his producers, from Brent Rambo to Tay Keith to Rio, Cxdy and Jstcap. The instrumentals jump from sparkling and maximalist to nostalgic and bare, juxtaposing the learned, commercial success of FLAWLESS LIKE ME with lethargic spews of paranoia as he yearns for intimacy. He’s digging deeper. From the pain to the production, s*x m*ney dr*gs revives a Days B4 III-era LUCKI, positing emphatic detail against his fading memory.

The sequencing of s*x m*ney dr*gs flows like a seasoned rapper’s setlist, never sticking with one flow or melody for too long. The abrupt transitions can be attributed to haste and incompleteness, but LUCKI’s tracklist serves as an extension of himself, disoriented and sparse, understated and dull. Missteps are rare and typically attributed to being derivative of himself; for example, “Gemini Love” sounds like a less-animated version of “Karma A Bitch.” His lyrics rarely falter, but when they do, it’s LUCKI’s flow and breathwork that suffer the most. He barely pushes through his lines on songs like “Almighty Tune” and “Chrome Denim;” that instinctual despondency is what makes LUCKI‘s music so vulnerable and evocative amidst the monotonous mumbling and his omnipresent trap hi-hats, you know what he’s going to say before he says it, so why should he put in the work.

SMD is LUCKI’s response to his clear path to commercial success. Fans swarm him on the streets, his leaks are just as coveted as his proper releases, and yet he feels nothing. His words are slurred together and whether it’s drug-induced paranoia, mania or depression, he falls in and out of melodies just as quickly as he’ll go from over pronouncing downbeats on “No Bap” to monotony on “Bby Pluto.” s*x m*ney dr*gs is a torn and re-pieced portrait of LUCKI, honing in and honoring the raw sentimentality that brought him acclaim; he’s still an addict, now enabled by own success, questioning his own end goal.