By George Dornbach
For local musician Lucas Motten, music is a form of expression that transcends simply sound. A rapper, hip-hop artist, father, entrepreneur and case manager for local area schools, Motten, who goes by the stage name, Lukane, uses music to share his story and build community.
Raised in the south side of Chicago, Motten found his way to Minnesota after an altercation back home that could have ended with serious consequences.
“I was robbed and almost made a bad decision with a gun in my hand,” Motten said. “In that moment, I listened to the little voice in my head as well as the rest of my body which told me to just go.”
Had Motten stayed in Chicago he felt he would probably run into the same kind of problems, so he headed north.
With family and friends in the Twin Cities and St. Cloud area, Motten started school at Saint Cloud State University studying community planning and development. He currently volunteers at the local Boys and Girls Club and is a case manager at alternative schools in St. Cloud where students are dealing with trauma.
“Reach one, teach one. That’s my motto,” Motten said. “Through my own life experiences, lived and learned, I hope to spark change in the young peoples’ lives I work with. The faster I can do that, the better.”
Drawn to St. Cloud initially by family, he also appreciated the city’s diverse communities. It’s one of the benefits Motten says of being an artist here.
“Minnesota hasn’t had that breakthrough hip-hop/rap artist,” Motten said. “Music is about markets, and this is a fairly untapped market in terms of my genre of music.”
Motten started getting serious with his music in 2013 when he came out with his first single, “Show the Money.” The costs of making music are high due to studio rental and equipment usage so Motten started investing money in his own studio, learning the ins and outs of producing. He books 30-35 shows a year by himself and has found other ways to be creative as well.
He’s started his own clothing brand and company, CFN, and is working on a scholarship to reward his students’ hard work with free clothes from his brand.
Producing rap music in Central Minnesota provides its own set of challenges however. In some cases, Motten has experienced poor treatment and unfair payment at venues he has performed at.
“When you say the word rapper people sometimes think you subscribe to everything negative that surrounds the word,” Motten said.
That hasn’t stopped Motten from chasing his dreams.
“When you perform, you just have to let your words speak. Some call it the grind. I call it doing it for the love of the music, and eventually the money will come,” Motten said.
Motten released his first full-length album in 2016 entitled, “New Jack 6.” He’s seen that over the course of his musical career, his music has grown and become more mature.
“Words are powerful and I want my words to stick,” Motten said. “As an artist, you’re forced to put out a lot of songs because the game is moving so fast.”
As for Motten, he’s trying to stay true to his craft.
“I can see the music,” Motten says about his creative process. “I can see it and I can do it. I feel like I’ve found my voice.”
As for what’s next, Motten recently started a partnership with multi-platinum rapper, Clover G’s Lil’ Flip in Huston. He’s also been working as an executive producer with Calico Rock.