#6 to Watch for 2010 is Luck-One from Portland. His discography is extremely limited, but the EP he released last year with producer Dekk is so good that I can listen to it on repeat until his next project drops. Anu posted the EP back when it along with a write up, so that will function as the post. However, I did get a chance to ask Luck some questions so hit the jump for a Da-What.com exclusive interview!
Da What: First off, can you tell us who you are and where you are from?
Luck-One: I’m from Portland, Oregon. Specifically North East Portland. Nineteenth & Prescott. Ha ha.
DW: Who are some of your favorite artists to work with?
LO: I can’t really say that I’ve had a chance to really work with anyone more than once, other than Dekk. It’s been a blessing to work with all the different people I’ve collaborated with thus far, though. Me and Dekk have really good synergy though. I really can’t say if that’s due to having just been around one another so much in a creative space, or some sort of inherent chemistry. But it’s been really good to have worked with him, from a creative standpoint at least.
DW: Who are some artists that you have yet to work with that you really want to?
LO: Well, lyrically, I’m really going more in a direction of less features. I feel like that’s become the thing to do. No matter if it adds to the artistic quality of your project, it’s just kind of become a fad in a lot of ways. I think, when most people are going left, I wanna always try and go right. If I could get some talented horn players, or guitarists, that would be more in the line of what I’m interested in as a far as features. I’m really a beat freak to be honest, so I’m always trying to find ways to make the music more dynamic. I can handle the lyrics for the most part. Unless I can get a verse from like, Rakim or something. Ha ha.
DW: I have read that Beautiful Music was finished within 5 months of meeting Dekk.
LO: That’s true.
DW: How did you and Dekk meet up?
LO: We have a mutual friend who I happened to run into the first night I was out of prison. He told me to check Dekk out for production. The rest is history.
DW: Can you guide us through some of the creative process in making this EP?
LO: Man, it was really quick, but seamless. Not rushed whatsoever. We just mesh really well. A lot of times he would be making the countermelodies as I was writing my rhymes and we would both be giving each other input on both. The first track was “80’s Back”. We did that whole thing in like five hours. From me hearing the beat, to him sequencing it out, and putting the final touches on it….to me getting behind the mic and lacing it. I must’ve vibed out to that track for days. Straight repeat. I knew it was gonna be something special after that first one. After that it was pretty much a blur. I can recall not really liking “Coolax”. Ha ha. I thought it was cheesy.
Towards the end of the project Dekk really lost interest. He didn’t like the direction I was going with tracks like “Road To Destiny”, “Back At Long Last”….etc. I had to go find the singer for “When I Forget” myself and get it laced. When I sent it to him, he went nuts.
DW: What do you find is your main source of inspiration?
LO: Man, just life. The experiences that I’ve had. The people I’ve learned from. The places I’ve been and the things I’ve seen. I’m thinking I was twenty three experiencing life in the free world as an adult for the first time. It was crazy. I had so much I wanted to say, and so much I wanted to experience. I put my soul into that project. There are pieces of me in tracks like “Coulda Been Me”. It’s an authentic work as far as the content on those tracks. Everything on there was fact. I just let my soul bleed for everything it was worth. On every track.
DW: Were you raised a Muslim?
DW :As a Muslim, what contradictions do you find in your religion and in Hip Hop?
LO: Well, music in general isn’t a great thing to do in Islam. Some people would even say it’s forbidden depending on where you stand on certain issues. Clearly, I don’t think it’s forbidden, ha ha, but it is my belief that ANY form of communication that is not glorifying God is. That’s why I try to speak about relevant issues in my music. Some of the greatest and most creative artists ever have been Muslims. So I find no contradiction between hip-hop and Islam. My position is that rap music is one of those things that assumes the form given to it by those in whose possession it rests. So, for me, hip-hop is a tool of uplifting, enlightenment. For others, something different. To say that Islam and Hip-Hop are somehow inherently in contradiction with one another would be to concede to the misnomer that hip-hop is somehow intrinsically evil, since Islam is the superlative good. Objectively right.
DW: What similarities, if any, have you found?
LO: That they both come from an oppressed minority group and have in recent years both been hi jacked by small minded people for their own uses, and subsequently vilified in the media.
DW: How do you balance these things in your every day life?
LO: It’s all natural. Hip-hop and Islam. They go together like Ed Hardy and bad haircuts. Ha ha.
DW: Waka Flocka Flame said that lyrical rappers aren’t making money, that being said, he is getting a LOT of money for his appearances. You are a very impressive lyricist, how important is commercial success/making a living vs. staying true to your talent? Do you think a middle ground can be reached or does one have to be sacrificed?
LO: There is a niche market for everything. ICP used to sell out tours. I think what most emcees don’t grasp is the longevity. With the rapid development of file sharing and new ways of communication like facebook and twitter, the old model of music marketing and consumption is clearly becoming out dated. In today’s market, it’s quite possible to see an emcee like Freeway, who’s on an indie get more money than some of the artists on majors. The reason being that people have more access to artists than they ever have before. So, it’s really about who grinds the hardest out here right now. Wiz Khalifa sees a lot of money off of tours. But then again, so does Hieroglyphics. Lyrical rappers are just as prevalent as they have ever been. And the same can be said for hyphy rappers, or “commercial rappers”. I think Flocka Flame or whatever his name is just new in the game and probably feeling himself a little bit. I know he’s not getting more money for shows than Drake. And Drake’s pretty lyrical. Lol
DW: How would you define success within today’s music industry? What would it mean to “have made it”?
LO: To me? If I could just take care of myself, and support a family doing music. That’s success. I’m always gonna want more. It’s just the way we’re socialized to see things in this world. But I think I could call myself successful just making rap my occupation. There are degrees of course in all things. But if I could just wake up and spend the whole day on this, with nothing in between. I know I would feel successful, or at least some greater degree of success. If not because being able to occupy myself solely with what inspires me as a human would be validating in and of itself, then definitely because the amount of time and energy I would be able to dedicate to my craft then would make me that much better.
DW: After the advent of gangster rap through today’s popular rappers like Lil’ Wayne, T.I. and Gucci Mane, serving time can boost one’s rap/street cred and can make artists more popular. Has your opinion of crime/prison and hip hop’s relationship changed through your experience serving time?
LO: Everything changed with prison. It was like, being stripped down to the bare minimum. You begin to realize how much the things people are neglecting (like, keeping your word, or good hygiene) are really important. Street cred is, something that only exists in the street. You can’t make your street cred transfer over to a rap blog, or concert, man. And the thing is, street dudes know this. Those who know me know how I get down, but if I were to go trying to impress upon the fifty million people that live in this country what the particulars of my past life as a criminal were, I would get hit with a new indictment. A lot of this stuff is just a light show. You know? It’s like, “I’m a G” now the “’hood” can relate. Really? I’m from the hood and I don’t relate to a lot of these so-called street rappers. I think, and this may sound somewhat quixotic, but, if popularity is predicated upon promoting the most base forms of human interaction, then I’m cool man. It’s a struggle, like anything else. Being in prison is in a lot of ways like having a job. You’re basically stuck somewhere you don’t want to be but you deal with it cause you know it’s necessary in order to see the life on the other end. My thing is trying to make people see those similarities instead of playing on people’s ignorance and emphasizing how doing time makes me so much different.
DW: Having been to prison, what do you think this says about hip hop as a culture?
LO: Not a thing. I mean, at least not any more than what it says about society in general.
DW: Why have you chosen a different path from promoting a criminal record?
LO: Ha ha. Cause I was a terrible criminal. As you can see I got caught. And I like myself better now. A man of conscience can only engage in that sort of thing for so long before he really begins to examine things.
DW: Has your sentence benefited you in any ways? How so?
LO: I now value the struggle and the ease equally. It’s made me a more complete person. I’m better for it. For real.
DW: What do you have in store for the future?
LO: Wow. True Theory. The full-length. Looking like early next year. More tours. More press. More music. Everything bigger.
DW: Any last remarks?
LO: Thanks for checking out the interview. And much love to the Da-What.com for having me. Stay tuned….
Peace to the righteous.