There are some unavoidable differences between Luck-One's latest video—for "Farewell," his kinda-sorta retirement anthem—and Macklemore's breakthrough Northwest vid, "The Town." The lingering shots of piles of photos, the rooftop rapping segment, the warm shots of friends and family—all of these were in Zia Mohajerjasbi's 2009 Mack shoot, and no doubt influenced the visuals for the very pretty and affecting "Farewell."
The songs have something in common, too: They both look back on the artists' formative years and craft a State of the Union address for their respective cities. Only, where Macklemore's outlook for his scene's future seemed bright, Luck's survey reveals a lot of bittersweet sentiment. There's generally a low ceiling to success in Portland hip-hop, and Luck—Hanif Collins to his folks—is finding it. "The guarantees are bigger but these aren't the brightest times," he raps. Even while the focus here is on opening your arms to what life has to offer, not walking away from the city that birthed you as an artist, there's something a little bit disconcerting in an MC this young saying he's "the pinnacle." Collins is a very, very good MC, but like anyone else, he can get better. He will get better.
I can understand why someone would get burned out on rapping. It's a crowded field, and talent is often passed over for connections or flash. Luck is an incredibly hard worker onstage, and despite getting some recognition he's clearly not blowing up quite the way he would have hoped. That has to be frustrating. But in hip-hop, like any other artform, great work comes from pushing oneself, not from being pushed. And I think Luck will continue to perfect his craft. Maybe not on Portland stages, but he'll keep making music. And maybe a change of scenery—temporary or permanent—is just the thing to get him stoked on the music again. Luck says he still has four (!) near-finished albums to put out before retirement, but I'd imagine there will be more after that. His relationship with hip-hop might be complicated, but it has been too fruitful thus far to walk away from. But just in case: Farewell, Luck. It has been a lot of fun thus far.