[HIP-HOP] Luck-One is nothing if not enthusiastic. The MC's bombastic excitement is understandable, considering he spent most of the aughts in prison. And that stint also explains why, since 2009, Luck—Hanif Collins to his folks—has been all hustle and brimstone: He raps like a fiery Southern preacher after one too many cappuccinos.
On last year's True Theory Outtakes EP, it was almost too much passion: So fired up was the promising young MC that he rarely stopped to breathe, leaving the listener in awe of Collins' well-honed verbal skills but questioning his control of tone.
Those questions have been answered. All of Luck's passions—for politics, for theology and, above all, for words—filter into the verses of True Theory. Here we get a full portrait of the artist: The Malcolm X-sampling radical on "Resistance"; the observant student of life on "Sounds of My City"; the religious historian on "Monotheism." Stylistically, too, Luck shows his breadth: "Listen to the Rain" is a near-spoken-word affirmation painted in cool tones; "Palestine," a song with verses so rich it doesn't need (nor have) any real hook to speak of, comes out appropriately machine-gun fast. Even when he's rapping alongside guest stars—Illmaculate, Sonny and Toni Hill among them—Luck is clearly the ringmaster.
That said, True Theory remains an explosive record; there are moments where the listener wishes Collins would take a deep breath and slow things down for a minute. But the album's three "skits"—verbose spoken passages from what one assumes are the pages of Luck's journal—provide insight to the rapper's spunky disposition: The guy's brain, like his songs, moves a mile a minute. For Luck, True Theory was like a release valve and there wasn't much of a filter on what came out. For the rest of us, it's just a jaw-dropping debut. As he says on "The Real Me," though, "I'm feeling like there are so many more steps ahead of me than there are behind me." I can't wait to watch Luck climb those steps.
SEE IT: Luck-One plays the Crown Room on Saturday, April 9. $5. 21+. See listings for details.