Lakutis and I are in New York City, just a few blocks from Times Square at Dave & Busters. Video games beep and ring and flash, soliciting money. Consoles emit chiptunes and radio pop blares loudly overhead. His new album Three Seashells will be released in the morning. I’ve been waiting for two months to hear it, but there’s been some delays in releasing the album, though neither of us know what those are.

"Wait, is this your album release party?" I ask.

“I was thinking that to myself earlier," he laughs. "My unofficial album release party at Dave & Busters.”

Lakutis and his closest friends all came down from Washington Heights looking for a new Korean video game that "pays you" to harpoon fish, but the American version isn’t the same. “The mechanics are all fucked up on this version,” he tells me. It must be true, it’s the one game nobody is crowded around. Meanwhile, his pal DVS—the only other rapper to feature on his new album—is absolutely killing it at trivia. I want to ask him what he’s been up to as well, but anytime someone speaks to him his wild eyes look back with a shut-the-hell-up-I’m-concentrating glare.

“I’ll get the new album to you, no wait, fuck it, you can download it tomorrow like everyone else.” We laugh. That’s Lakutis, he’s not even trying to be funny, he just is.

"I saw the 'Jesus Piece' video though," I say.

“I’m obsessed with the YouTube views on that right now. I don’t want it to have millions of views, I’m shooting for like Thug Waffle exposure, though,” Lakutis says. We check on my phone. “Thug Waffle” has 800,000 views, “Jesus Piece” has 8,000.

Lakutis’ latest video perfectly expresses the feeling of watching one of his live performances. He has a Stooges-era Iggy stage persona—the kind of scary you can’t look away from—and he spits deliciously convoluted rhyme schemes. He doesn’t let me get to analytical about his aesthetic though. His music is simply a way to express an idea. He is going back and listening to old death metal, and has a real appreciation for pop music, ideals that made him a perfect fit for his last tour with Antwon and Le1f. “Antwon is my dude, man. Five minutes after meeting it felt like we’d known each other our whole lives," Lakutis says. "Le1f was amazing too, he raps and dances like no one else. Plus he’s tall and beautiful, I’ve been on tour with people and after a few days it’s like 'oh I’ve seen that', but with Le1f he’s constantly amazing you.”

He shrinks away from the idea of fleshing out his influences. “I don’t want people to think this is just some kind of art-school project for me, truthfully I’d love to make pop songs, to make popular music, but every time I try this is what comes out.” He says laughing.

"I feel like most pop music is just a life support system for a phrase or hook," I point out.

“Yeah, but I like that!” He grins.

The next day I finally get to hear Lakutis’ new album. I understand why he tells me he didn’t like his own first EP, something I instinctively skipped on for years because: white rappers. He chuckles at that idea, comfortably telling me “no one heard that, I didn’t even like that.” A few years later, with decent exposure, and a found confidence in his own style, Three Seashells opens with the voracity of Wu-Tang album (What The Fuck / Jesus Piece) but also goes pop at will (Too Ill For The Law / Body Scream). Lakutis cheeses on the Howie-Scream a sample we both love, on the track “Skeleton”. The repetition element of pop fascinates him and it comes through in his production choices enlisting Bill Ding, Steel Tipped Dove, and even thee Mae Whitman for voice work.

“Lakutis is about the love,” he says “The love and the ‘yonce.” That’s all the people need to know. He jokes.

"What the hell is ‘yonce'?" I ask.

Beyonce!? You know. I'm basing my style on that, gonna do an entire visual album.”

"Oh! 'Drunk In Love' is my shit," I say.

“Yeah, I guess I actually don’t like the whole album, I just like that song.”

Lakutis describes for me how many of the rappers in the New York New School gravitated to one another in their high school days. He's first-generation Russian so I bring up my theory that people who speak English as a second language use it differently (usually better) than people who speak only one language, which, combined with a new generation of New York immigrants raised in hip hop, makes for interesting rap. “Yeah, there’s definitely that” he says, “but there’s also, like, immigrant kids kind of find one another and have to stick together. It’s weird to be white and be a rapper, but I was always on the outside anyway, you know?”

“Otherized.” I say.


It’s midnight. Lakutis has been up since 5 a.m., when he went to yoga. “I’d pay twenty dollars to play a video game that you lay down in that plays ambient music, wait, what the fuck are all these kids doing awake right now?” he says. I laugh deliriously. “Shit, what are you going to write about me?” he asks. I tell him I don’t know.

Three Seashells premiered on Complex and is available on bandcamp.