Rapper delves into the perils of being a comedian and content creator in today’s super-sensitive culture.
Crank Lucas Opens Up About Cancel Culture, Will Smith, Censorship And His New Music
Crank Lucas can make you laugh and dance at the same time. The Washington, D.C., content creator, who got his start doing comedic rap parodies, is now an established artist and producer.
Recently, he started doing videos of viral internet video moments. Amassing 668,000 subscribers on YouTube, Lucas’ brand was elevated when he received his first producer credit on Joyner Lucas’ “Will” track, a song dedicated to legendary rapper/actor Will Smith. Later, Smith remade the song over Lucas’ beat.
He recently released a new single, “Up Up,” featuring Ethan Spalding. It’s the perfect upbeat party anthem needed to counter the somber pandemic years of 2019 and 2020.
Zenger News tracked down Lucas to get his thoughts on cancel culture, the sensitive nature of censorship and how both have affected his career.
Percy Crawford interviewed Crank Lucas for Zenger.
Zenger: Last time we spoke, you had just received your first production credit on Joyner Lucas’ track, “Will,” which was a dedication to Will Smith. When you saw Smith rap to your beat in response to Joyner’s track, what was that like for you?
Crank Lucas: Joyner told me beforehand that Will was going to do the remix. I suppress excitement in certain situations until it actually happens. Not only that, I couldn’t speak on it until it came out, so I had to wait a month or so. I knew Will Smith could rap, so I didn’t put any thought into how he would do on it, but when I heard it, I was like, “Yo, he really murdered that beat.”
Zenger: Your growth has been amazing. How do you catch the vibes of what’s hot and create magic from it?
Crank Lucas: I guess I just have a good eye for forecasting things. When I want to try something different, it just so happens to align with what the majority of viewers are looking for. You still have people that want to see the rap skits, but you get new fans with the reaction videos. For me personally, it’s about me trying new stuff. I want to do a couple of videos of me building stuff. It may be something I do a series of for a month or two, and then I will move on to something else.
Zenger: When you say building something, what do you mean?
Crank Lucas: I have always wanted to build houses. I would do something small right now because I have never done anything like that. But I want to design a structure, build it and create stuff. That’s just what I do.
Zenger: What are your thoughts on “‘cancel culture”?
Crank Lucas: The ideology of it goes back to the days of, if you didn’t like the music, you just changed the damn station, or go to another channel. People have this need to be right, and this need to feel that their opinion matters. It validates their existence. And one way people do that is, stand up and take a stance, and we’re going to cancel you. I get it, but it’s overkill at this point.
This is with anybody, but let’s use DaBaby as an example. If the issue is something that is said or done with no malicious intent, let’s just start there. Whatever he said, he wasn’t trying to hurt nobody; no one got physically attacked at the show for him saying what he said. If the issue is what he said, why just cancel that person, never mind all of the other stuff he’s done. Someone posted a video of him giving a homeless woman $1,000, something like that.
We forget all this other stuff, and we’re going to cancel you. We’re going to take you off all these shows, instead of actually addressing the problem and fixing the problem. When you’re canceling him, you’re not just canceling him. You’re canceling his DJ, his hype man, his security, his manager, his kids. That’s how I look at the overall picture. Of course, I do believe there are some things that happen, and certain brands should be canceled as a result. I always look at the big picture, of what is the main issue.
Then there was the time that H&M posted the black kid in the shirt that said “Monkey” on it. Even if they knew what they were doing, and they did that on purpose, that’s not my issue. My issue is real racism that’s coming down from the government, the police policing black neighborhoods incorrectly. That’s the real issue, canceling a brand is not going to solve anything. That’s how I look at it.
Zenger: You are a rapper and content-creating comedian. I must get your thoughts on censorship.
Crank Lucas: I don’t think I did anything wrong, but we’ll see what happens (laughing). I’m just waiting on that day to come. It’s crazy because, I’m a little bit older. Most content creators now at least remember a time when the “F” word would be said all the time. People would know that if they went back and watched “In Living Color” or listened to any rap song in the ’90s.
I just watched something where Deon Cole said he ran into Damon Wayans, and Wayans made a comment back in 2015 that some of Bill Cosby’s accusers were “unrape-able.” He was joking. At the end of it he was like, “I apologize to all of his accusers if I offended you, and I hope that you get justice.” He got so much backlash that he quit standup.
Deon Cole is telling this story and he said, Damon looked sad about it. Damon got asked about something that happened in Korea. And Damon’s response was, “I’m an American, I don’t have an opinion.” For me doing what I do on the rap side and the comedy side, it makes it easier to get away with certain stuff, but they are really coming after these comedians. We saw it with Kevin Hart. It’s sad. They’ll give you a chance to apologize (laughing). I think that was the main thing with him, not so much what he said, but how he stood on it. He doubled and tripled down on it, and they quadrupled down on that.
Zenger: I loved the “Truces” record featuring Kaneisable. I understand you have another single on the way.
Crank Lucas: We just dropped the new single on Aug. 31 called “Up Up,” that features my homey, Ethan Spalding. The video will be coming out right after that. It’s going to be crazy. I got a couple of TikTok challenges that we’re going to be putting together behind that record. I’m excited about that. I will be dropping a project sometime after that as well, so stay tuned for that.
Zenger: You have a diverse approach to music. Explain what we can expect when listening to “Up Up.”
Crank Lucas: It’s an energetic song, it’s a party song, it’s a dance song. It’s for the club, it’s got horns in it. It’s got that real anthem-ish feel to it. It has a nice bounce on it. We have been playing it out here in some of the clubs in the D.C. area, Maryland and Virginia and testing it out. I started promoting it at the end of some of my reaction videos now, and people are starting to really catch on to it. I’m really excited about this record. We are going “Up Up”!
Zenger: You use social media in every way possible when promoting your content. How does that benefit you and your brand?
Crank Lucas: Using social media is the driving force behind everything. We literally have tiny computers in our pockets, which turns into little tiny radios. If I have a conversation with somebody inside the music industry, and I’m asking them questions about breaking artists, and putting them into the music industry, one of the first things they say is, content.
You don’t necessarily see every artist creating content, but it’s the content that helps drive the music. That’s why I started doing skits in the first place. I figured that out a long time ago. It’s important to use social media whether it’s good or bad. If somebody makes a meme about McDonald’s food not decaying for 10 years if they leave it sitting out, that’s still an advertisement for McDonald’s.
Zenger: Thank you for always coming on my platforms, and it’s been a pleasure watching you grow.
Crank Lucas: Thank you for always giving me your time and your platform to come on!
Edited by Matthew B. Hall and Stan Chrapowicki