After shaping the sound of New Atlanta, Lex Luger keeps reinventing himself
When Waka Flocka dropped Flockaveli in October 2010, the hip-hop world collectively bugged out to the riot-inspiring music in the form of “Hard In Da Paint,” “Bricksquad,” and “Grove St. Party.”
“It’s a brutalist concoction, one of the most bracing and unforgiving hip-hop releases in recent memory. Almost single-handedly, and without context, it rediscovers hip-hop’s pugnacity in an era of extreme melodic sophistication, an idiosyncratic anomaly.”
Flockaveli was retro in its pugnacity, but also helped usher in a new breed of ‘hardcore’ hip-hop. Flocka’s brand of scream-rap was engrossing, but as Caramanica pointed out, there was a “melodic sophistication” to the record.
And a 19-year-old kid from Virginia was the source of much of this melody. That kid went by the name of Lex Luger and he provided the ominous strings and crashing snares on Flockaveli‘s hardest-hitting songs.
Lex Luger brought his aggressive, massive, but simple, production to the rap world in 2010 and helped revitalize the southern rap sound after years of crunk music domination.
Instead of the bubbly, bouncing beats of Dem Franchize Boyz and D4L, Lex brought ominous strings and paired them up with rolling hi-hats and snares, helping create the Atlanta trap sound so popular today.
The Flocka/Luger partnership was pretty unstoppable on Flockaveli, sometimes artists bring out the best in each other and a producer/rapper team can accentuate the skills of the other. Such was the case on Flockaveli as Waka flowed perfectly on top of Luger’s face-melting beats.
Luger produced Waka’s “Hard In Da Paint” and “Grove St. Party,” along with 11 of the 17 songs off Flockaveli. In the same year he also produced Rick Ross’ “B.M.F.” and “MC Hammer,” two of the hardest tracks in Rozay’s catalog to this day. To top off his introductory year, Luger helped Kanye and Jay-Z on their epic “H.A.M.” number off Watch the Throne.
He would follow up his epic 2010 by keeping the damn thing going, producing the majority of three Juicy J mixtapes, Rubber Band Business 1 and 2, as well as Blue Dream & Lean alongside the former Three 6 Mafia kingpin.
Luger also helped introduce the world to the up-and-coming Ace Hood with “Go n Get It” and “Hustle Hard,” produce the club hit “Round of Applause” for Waka and Drake, “9 Piece” for Rick Ross and Lil Wayne, and Wale’s “That Way.”
The producer’s work in 2010/2011 saw him named Producer of the Year at the 2011 BET Hip Hop Awards, cementing his place in the hip-hop lexicon as one of the genre’s premier beatmakers.
Over the next couple years, Luger would continue to shape the genre’s sound. He worked alongside Gucci Mane, Young Dolph, French Montana, Chief Keef, Fredo Santana, Rick Ross, and cooked up “M.I.A.” on Travis Scott’s debut project Owl Pharoah.
Since that early 2010’s period, Lex Luger formed the Low Pros alongside A-Trak, a pretty awesome combination of talent, mixing Luger’s massive trap sound and A-Trak’s bouncy electronica to amazing results.
To date, they’ve only released one project, EP1, but we’re very down for another Low Pros record.
Last year, Lex Luger helped create the epic “Champions” record with Kanye West, Gucci Mane, Quavo, Travis $cott, Big Sean, Yo Gotti, 2 Chainz, and Desiigner.
While the Lex Luger trademark is the huge three-chord strings with rolling drums, he’s more than capable of switching it up and doing more soulful sample-based production.
This was clear on Schoolboy’s “Grooveline Pt. 1” from Habits & Contradictions back in 2012. You wouldn’t be blamed for doing a double take hearing the low key, smooth, Marlena Shaw-sampling production and seeing it was provided by Lex Luger.
While “Grooveline Pt. 1” was back in the day, Luger is conscious of trying to to switch up his style. He told Tuc Mag last year about his evolving sound,
“Early in my career my sound was Atlanta, but since I’ve done ‘H.A.M,’ ‘See Me Now,’ and ‘Champions,’ you wouldn’t expect that from me. My beat might barely have an 88, snare, or the hi-hat. I’m trying to reinvent myself every year, every month because the game changes so fast. There are rappers dropping from nowhere, and they have these different sounds. The game is just really different now. I focus on my music and what I got going on in life.”
Now, Luger and Curren$y are dropping a collab album The Motivational Speech EP, expected to come out this weekend. The first track “Pressure” dropped last night, with accompanying visuals.
While the beat still has that accelerating synth trademark of Lex Luger at the beginning, the low key and muted snares with an acoustic piano on top definitely signals a very new sound from Lex Luger.
After shaping the aesthetic of New Atlanta and becoming the biggest producer in the game, Luger has switched up his style once again.
Still only 26, there’s plenty more to come from Lex Luger. You already know we’ll be watching all his moves.