By most measures, the Song of the Summer title is all sewn up, but don't tell that to Girvan "Fly" Henry, the man in charge of Atlanta-based hip-hop label Think It's a Game Records.
"'Everyday We Lit' is the 2017 summer anthem," he declares.
He's referring to YFN Lucci's single with PnB Rock, which, as of this writing, has spent eight weeks in the lower reaches of the Top 40.
"Everyday We Lit" marks Lucci's second consecutive summer hit, following last year's "Key to the Streets," a collaboration with Migos and Trouble. Impressively, it's also the third straight warm-weather smash for Think It's a Game: Rich Homie Quan's "Flex" was popular in the summer of 2015.
"We bringing a lot right now," acknowledges Lucci, yawning frequently over the phone after a long night in the studio. "We have a Number One hit. I'm one of the hottest artists in the game. We bringin' heat."
Lucci's delivery blends blocky, terse phrasing with the melodic fluidity that's as natural as breathing in his hometown of Atlanta. He started rapping when he was nine, and got serious when he met Johnny Cinco, another Atlanta MC now signed to 300 Entertainment, at age 17.
"[Cinco] was already dropping mixtapes," Lucci explains. "He knew a lot about the music game already. So he just had me there with him."
Lucci's first mixtape, Wish Me Well, came out in 2014: both the bleak, violent tales ("Traumatized") and the odes to persistence ("Exactly How It Was") were enveloped in the rapper's glossy but melancholy tone.
"It was heartfelt," Fly says. "He had songs that touched my soul. I knew if it touched me, it was going to touch other people."
"There's a lot of pain in [Lucci's voice]," adds June James, the producer behind both "Key to the Streets" and "Everyday We Lit." "It ain't manufactured in the lab. It was manufactured in the street. You got a lot of mumble rap going on; there's nothing wrong with that, but they're more about partying and having fun. Lucci just brings a different perspective on life. People need that."
James and Lucci formed an immediate musical bond. "It's like Metro [Boomin] and Future, or what Zaytoven and Gucci [Mane] had at one point," Fly suggests. James has pushed Lucci in a more upbeat direction, at least on his singles: The first James beat that Lucci rapped over happened to be the instrumental for "Key to the Streets." "I didn't think it was a hit," the producer remembers, "but you don't know you're making history when you're in the middle of making history."
"Everyday We Lit" follows the same path as "Key to the Streets" – the beat from James, mostly keyboard and sputtering drums, evokes the work of Atlanta producer London on Da Track, and Lucci finds a melodically-minded partner to trade lines with, in this case the Philadelphia singer-rapper PnB Rock. "It's a real versatile record," James says. "From a college kid to a kid on the block – everyone resonates with being lit."
The single became Lucci's first ever Top 40 hit, and two months ago, Think It's a Game entered into a joint venture with Warner Bros., which now serves as their distribution partner.
"We've got the grind, the drive," Lucci asserts.
"We're a small team, but as you can see, we make big moves," Fly says. "We gonna keep 'em coming. We already got the next Number One lined up."