A little over a month ago, Hanif Collins—better known by his MC name, Luck-One—left Portland and relocated to New York. It was an unceremonious departure for one of the city's most lauded rappers, no farewell shows or anything. He just up and left. That, it turns out, is precisely how he wanted it.
Willamette Week emailed Collins to ask about his relocation, his feelings on leaving Portland behind and the state of the local hip-hop scene. He did not hold back.
Willamette Week: What made you leave Portland?
Luck One: Opportunity. I had a few meetings with some big labels last year. It just became apparent that my locality was limiting me. In Portland there aren't any roads out. Portland has one of the best hip-hop scenes ever, but at present it's just a big circle jerk of local rappers competing to see who can smash the same chicks and open up for every lame rapper that comes to the Roseland Theater the most. I'm just being real. That's not success to me. Never has been. I want more.
Tell me about leaving town. You must feel a bit conflicted, I imagine.
Man, if there's one thing I know, it's follow your instincts. I felt like I had completed what I was supposed to do in Portland. So I left. No conflict, because I'm not bound by any geographical constructs. I just packed my things and bounced. No going away party or nothing. I'm not saying goodbye to anything moving out here, I'm saying hello.
Why New York over, say, L.A.?
I was born in New York City. I lived here 'til I was like 8. It was an obvious choice. Both sides of my parents' family live here. I've got no family in L.A. For me, it's hard to find comfort in a place where I don't have any blood, any history.
What'll you miss most about Portland?
Mexican food. Dope live hip-hop. And of course, all of my adoring fans.
How are things in New York so far?
I've been here for just over a month now. Presently I'm killing everything, with no problem. Things are swell.
What projects do you have lined up?
Curse of the Pharaoh—2/11/14.
Can you define your goals now that you're in New York?
Be the hardest working rapper in the state. Same goals as in Oregon, just a bigger playing field, and people that dress much, much worse. Ha ha.
Portland has a notoriously strained relationship with its hip-hop scene. Is it worth it, in your opinion, for others to stay and try to make it here?
I suppose it depends on what you want. I personally am not interested in trying to make any more of a name in a city so racist the police are sent out to every rap show to terrorize concertgoers in an attempt to re-create the city in the image of a cable TV satire. They can have all their "Keep Portland Weird (White)" slogans and microbreweries. I'm from the northeast, and they don't want any of us sticking around, anyway—ask Kendra James. If you wanna stick around 'til they reinstate the Fugitive Slave Law and make it illegal for negroes to congregate, that's your business. I love Portland and that's always going to be home but the repression against black culture is really disgusting at this point. No, thank you.
What will it take for Portland's hip-hop talent to to become recognized on a national level? Is it up to the media or the artists themselves?
Artists have to work harder. Be more original. Wake up earlier in the morning. You will get out of it what you put into it—period. In the words of the great Nipsey Hussle, "I hope you fools don't think this shit is just gon...magically appear!"
What parting words of advice do you have for Portland's hip-hop scene?
Stop biting my style.
MORE ON LUCK-ONE IN WILLAMETTE WEEK:
- "Fresh Start" (March 4, 2009)
- Album Review: Luck-One, True Theory (April 6, 2011)
- Album Review: Luck-One & Dekk, Beautiful Music Pt. 2 (March 21, 2012)