There are few women who feel confident enough to enter the male-dominated rap game. We’ve heard some gritty rhymes from the likes of Nicki Minaj and Azealia Banks over a plethora of beats from trap to electronic. While they try to set the standard for a new generation of female emcees, there are others who are taking their career in a completely different direction. Nello Luchi’s approach to the rap game is not only unique, but ultimately a reflection of who she is.
Born in Brooklyn as Janell Smith, the Bed-Stuy femcee grew up listening to the sounds of Biggie, Rakim, Run D.M.C., Lil Kim and Nas – whom she attests are “the greats.” Although their influence is evident in her music, Luchi says her songs are more soulful than anything else. With two projects (Breathe In & The Nothing Special) already under her belt, her sound is developing in a way that no other female has done since the days of MC Lyte and Queen Latifah.
“I can say that I grew up on all the greats,” said Luchi. “You know, the late ’80s to the early ’90s and the 2000s so I grew up on everybody. But Brooklyn in particular, Lil Kim, Biggie, Jay, MC Lyte, that caliber of artists from that time influenced me so much. That’s why my music sounds the way that it does.”
Luchi’s career has grown significantly since she dropped her first project in 2010. She has worked with R&B singer Chrisette Michelle for their joint single “Love In The Afternoon” and has already gained some fame overseas with her collaboration with Brazilian artist Naná Rizinni “Sao Brooklyn.”
In 2015, the Brooklyn rapper is set on releasing her third project The Struggle Before The Glory. The mixtape will detail everything she’s been going through over the past couple years, from the high points to the lowest of the low. She’s already dropped several songs like the Bonafide Beatz-produced track “Da Reign” and the more upbeat “Come On” in preparation for the mixtape’s release.
“This project, I was going through a lot,” said Luchi. “This project is pretty much what I was going through from 2011 to 2014. I was going through some deep, real life shit. In the midst of going through the situations that I was going through, I ended up writing TSBTG. You hear when things were ok then it goes to when things went down hill and back up to when things get better. Kind of like, when you have to break in order to see what’s really going on in life and how you overcome that battle of struggling with yourself.”
Nello Luchi’s upcoming mixtape The Struggle Before The Glory is set to drop April 8. Watch her latest visual for “Come On” below.