[HIP-HOP] First things first: Beautiful Music Part 2 is the best album Luck-One has recorded to date. It's a fine mix of the personal, the political and the spiritual. Dekk's beats stagger drunkenly around the thin line between underground heat and commercial-sounding singles. Most important, Luck-One has never been as focused and resourceful in his storytelling as he is here.

Unfortunately, this collection—the follow-up to Luck-One's post-lock-up debut—is also likely to be the release the Portland MC puts the least amount of his famed hustle into promoting, as he has said on numerous occasions (including on recent single "Farewell") that he's getting ready for either a long hiatus from music or an early retirement.

That eventual leave of absence should please MCs with whom Luck has had beefs—there are at least a couple—and those purists who think the music and vocal accompaniment on songs like "Black Seed" and "Murderers" (both featuring vocalist Dizz singing hooks) sound slick enough to back up Alicia Keyes or Jay-Z.

But haters, as the saying goes, are going to hate. And the truth is that Luck's thick verses—which are sometimes best listened to with a Bible, a Quran and a thesaurus handy—need room to breathe and beats dramatic enough to complement them. From this disc's exotic, bumping introductory track to the lullabic industrial boom-bap of "Welcome Home," these songs have exactly what they need, musically, to accompany a bruiser of a lyricist while he tells listeners about his family, his dreams and his world.

On "Here," Luck describes the world before his arrival ("Back when single-celled organisms were still swimming in slime") as a dark and unwelcoming place. Now, the MC is evolving. "They say I switched the flow from underground to mainstream," he explains. "But either way you cut it, we ain't swimming in the same stream." This time out, he's right. So, until he hangs up the mic, anyway, let there be Luck.

SEE IT: Luck-One plays the White Eagle, 836 N Russell St., on Monday, March 26, with Shadows on Stars and TxE. 8:30 pm. Free. 21+. Beautiful Music Part 2 is available for free download at luckoneconscious.com.