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New York City, New York, United States | Established. Jan 01, 2014 | INDIE

New York City, New York, United States | INDIE
Established on Jan, 2014
Solo Hip Hop Soul




"HANiF. - "Dreaming Big""

Now that he's fully situated in his Brooklyn digs, Luck-One HANiF is back on the grind.

Full of drive and positive thoughts, he links with Portland producer Fugitive Gurl for "Dreaming Big." - 2dopeboyz.com

""Dreaming Big" - Wired Tracks"

HANiF. - "Dreaming Big" Listed on HipHopWired.com | Wired Tracks. - HipHopWired.com

"HANiF. - "Dreaming Big""

Continuing the lineage of timeless MCs who at once rep a region and transcend geography–Tupac, Nas, more recently Kendrick Lamar—is epic up-and-comer HANiF (fka Luck-One). An enigmatic and versatile MC, HANiF boasts equal aplomb on grin-inducing boom bap or brow-furrowing street savagery. Well known for infusing social critiques in his raps, HANiF a Portland, Oregon to Harlem, NY transplant is one of today's most exciting emerging rappers. Dropping an array of musical projects, recently touring with Pete Rock and Slum Village, and now currently in the studio finishing his new project with Kanye West's grammy winning producer cousin, Devo Springsteen. - Thisis50.com


After publishing my piece on Lupe Fiasco, tons of underground hip hop artists sent me their work. Ultimately, none impressed me until I came across HANiF.

A spiritual revolutionary, HANiF delivers powerful lyrics alongside stunning production that fits in to, yet stands apart from, current hip hop culture. With pure command of the craft, HANiF speaks to the soulful crux of hip hop — a musical declaration meant to evoke political thought, spark emotion, and prompt mental profundity.

Unlike many socially conscious rappers, HANiF is not pushy in his pro-Black mellifluous rhetoric. His lyrics are galvanizing and polarizing, yet intimate and digestible. The manner by which he delivers his rhapsodic content suggests a coveted organic confidence — he’s a man completely comfortable in his worldview, unafraid and unabashed in his symphonic expression.

His latest EP 12 Inch Vinyls, is a testament to his fluidly secure creativity. Produced, mixed, and mastered by 5th Sequence, the project begins with “Feels So Good,” a song with a vintage 90s feel. A story of HANiF’s rise as a hip hop artist, he channels the experiences — both positive and negative — of artistry recognition in a competitive, cluttered, and claustrophobic field.

“Miss Kenya” (feat. Adrian Adel) is for us ladies. A rhythmic anecdote of Black love, HANiF reminisces about the Queen with the “People of the Sun smile” that he let get away.

“Speakeasy” induces the feel of a contemporary Harlem Renaissance. With lyrics creating the coziness of a kickback, “Speakeasy” is about those intimate moments when superficial egos are stripped away to reveal the Black nature of chill.

The most declarative proclamation comes with “Gentrify.” A potent single exposing the irony of gentrification that ends with a straightforward definition of the nefarious socioeconomic phenomenon. The video makes these words visible, with HANiF being erased and replaced with a white hipster who effortlessly mimics his words.

The EP ends with “Frontin’ On The Rappin.'” With a seemingly effortless flow, HANiF tell us the multilayered dimensions by which hip hop is undermined and falsely manufactured.

The bonus track “Chalk ‘Em Out,” (feat. Michael Zoah) is an epic head bopper. A gentle reminder of 90s-era Chicago house music (probably the greatest Black musical art form ever) “Chalk ‘Em Out” is the perfect tune for a relentless two-step.

The second bonus track “Servant II The King” is Jeezy-esque in sound, but pro-Black in vibe.

HANiF is hip hop I like love. Artistic mastery of storytelling emboldened by more than skill, but raw talent. HANiF is authentic — a genuine believer in the craft, a soldier in the Movement, a natural. - Black Millennials

"HANiF. is hip-hop’s newest master storyteller"

HANiF, formerly known as Luck-One, is a fresh breath of air among an influx of rappers with a similar sound and unoriginal content. He manages to not only set himself apart from today’s uninspired hip-hop music, but his relatable subject matter and vivid story-telling separates him from other socially conscious lyricists and puts him in a lane of his own.

Raised in Portland, Oregon, but now residing in New York, HANiF is making lots of noise in hip-hop. The artist has already released visuals for a couple songs, one being “Gentrify,“ a song and clever video detailing the frustration and isolation felt by longtime residents of neighborhoods that have been the target of gentrification. Another song that has received praise is “Miss Kenya,” in which he reminisces about spending time with a beautiful East African girl.

HANiF’s talent is now receiving more exposure. He’s recently toured with Pete Rock and Slum Village, and he’s finishing up a studio project with Devo Springsteen, a Grammy Award winner and cousin of Kanye West. If he keeps this momentum going, more hip-hop fans will know HANiF’s name soon enough.

Rolling out caught up with HANiF to get the scoop on how he discovered his passion for music, who he considers to be his peers, and other personal facts.

Name two of your top role models: one in the music world and one from outside of it.

My only role model is my father, every other human being on the planet is my peer.

What led you to music in general and to your art form(s) in particular?

I played music all my life. It just so happens that rapping was the only thing I was ever really good at. I went uncontested in high school rap battles — I never lost. As time went on, I just kept studying it — rap became my passion.

Who do you consider to be your peers in your field? Who do you see/use as examples for you to emulate?

Anyone who raps is my peer, but I don’t emulate any of them. I’m trying to achieve something that’s never been done before.

Name three books, works, performances or exhibits that changed how you view life and/or yourself.

The Autobiography of Malcolm X, Tao Te Ching and The Holy Qur’an.

Why do you consider learning important?

Life would be pretty boring without it.

What affirmations do you repeat to yourself that contribute to your success?

“God is with us!” and “Let’s get this paper.”

If you could change one thing about the world, what would it be?

I would stop humans from killing each other and get back to building pyramids.

If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?

Male pattern baldness, seriously.

What does it take to be iconic? In your estimation, who has achieved that status?

Iconic is when everyone knows your name belongs to you. Michael Jackson, Madonna, Kanye West, Ghandi, Pele. Iconic is the unquestionable. Up next, HANiF. - Rolling Out


Most of hip-hop’s alter egos — Eminem’s Slim Shady, Nas’s Escobar, Kool Keith’s Doctor Octagon and Ghostface Killah’s Tony Starks come to mind — have been cultivated for stylistic or narrative purposes, allowing rappers to craft fictional first-person accounts free of the criticism that met Rick Ross’s embellished crime sagas. Questions of authenticity have undone countless rappers, yet Shady, Escobar, Doc Ock and Starks operate outside the realm of their creators’ autobiographies. They are fabrications, designed to construct a false legend that never compromises the street credentials and artistic legitimacy of their creators.

Far less common is the case of a rapper’s full-scale rebranding, especially given how crucial the element of personal narrative is within hip-hop. Rebrands are often viewed by fans and critics alike through a cynical lens, as blatant attempts to erase portions of a rapper's biography; even maturing rappers who’ve removed their “Lil” and “Young” sobriquets have been sometimes met with rolled eyes.

Still, a few success stories stand out. After his younger brother DJ Subroc died at 19 in a tragic accident, Long Island rapper Zev Love X disappeared for most of the mid-‘90s, reemerging in 1997 to critical acclaim as the masked, free-associative MF Doom. A decade and a half into his recording career, Mos Def pulled a Cat Stevens and adopted the stage name Yasiin Bey. Facing a cease-and-desist from their namesake, the gun manufacturer Smith & Wesson, Brooklyn duo Smif-N-Wessun recorded their 1998 sophomore album The Rude Awakening as Cocoa Brovaz (though they went back to Smif-N-Wessun a decade later). And perhaps mostly famously, 2Pac’s final, posthumous album The Don Killuminati: The 7 Day Theory is credited to Makaveli, though its creator's untimely death means we'll never know for sure whether fans would have embraced the new pseudonym.

In most of the above examples, the artists had already enjoyed some commercial success before switching names or personas. But what happens when a rapper who hasn't built a national audience does a rebrand? Should their legitimacy automatically be called into question? Or can a well-timed name change ultimately be a greater gesture of authenticity than clinging to an identity one has outgrown?

Kenny Green and Hanif Collins both flirted with success as young rappers, but eventually felt the need to ditch their early stage identities to move forward as artists. While autobiography remained the primary component of both of their narratives on record, they each deemed the personae they constructed as young men inadequate to capture their stories as they matured.

Green first made waves in hip-hop circles as a teenager, releasing his debut Notes of a Native Son via Island Records in 1990 under the stage name Laquan. The soft-spoken Laquan fit seamlessly among the era’s socio-politically minded East Coast rappers, recording over jazzy production that belied his Los Angeles origins.

“At that time in my life I was going through a major mental and spiritual transition,” Green says of the Laquan record. “I was just introduced to the teachings of the Nation of Islam. I was influenced by Rakim, Big Daddy Kane, Brother J of X Clan, and Public Enemy. I was still learning and experimenting. Notes of a Native Son is very much true to the artistic character I went on to develop.”

Yet Notes of a Native Son was not only Green’s last outing with Island; it was Laquan’s last appearance on record. “The five-year period from 1990 to 1995 was my rude awakening,” says Green. “I received my release from Island Records, my father had gone to federal prison, and my daughter was born. I lost seven or eight close friends to gang activity and more to California’s three strikes law. I was in between record deals and it was a time of severe struggle for me.” Working with fellow L.A.-area artists AMG and the producer Battlecat, he honed a new vocal delivery and narrative style reflective of his experiences growing up in Crenshaw.

By the mid-'90s, rap acts from in and around Los Angeles had usurped their East Coast contemporaries on the urban radio charts, following the G-funk blueprint established by Dr. Dre, Snoop Dogg and Warren G. The Houston label Rap-A-Lot Records, best known as the home of Geto Boys, sought to expand its reach beyond Texas by signing a new stable of California rappers. In 1995, Green resurfaced on Rap-A-Lot as Poppa LQ with an album titled Your Entertainment, My Reality.

Your Entertainment, My Reality is a stark departure from Notes of a Native Son, featuring furious, funk-based production from Rap-A-Lot’s in-house team and guest appearances from fellow Los Angeles signees CJ Mac and Menace Clan. The greatest change, however, is the rapper himself. Rapping with a menacing, fast-paced delivery, Green introduces Poppa LQ as the “South Central Soldier,” relaying frantic tales of gang warfare on tracks with such titles as “Die Like a Gee or Live Like a Trick,” “Take the Money and Run” and “Killa 4 My Hood.”

“I figured the change in name and sound would better document my evolvement as an artist over the years,” Green says of his days as Poppa LQ. “Although I never felt Notes of a Native Son was a false start, I felt it was necessary. Rap-A-Lot provided a fertile environment for me to develop artistically.”

Unfortunately, his tenure at Rap-A-Lot also lasted a single release. “I didn't feel they promoted me adequately,” he says. “Not just me, but also the other West Coast artists. I know the staff had good intentions, it was more bad timing.”

Green worked with Portland artists Bosko and Cool Nutz in the ensuing years and, after a three-year jail sentence, continued his chameleon approach with a third stage name, emerging as Kenny Kingpin in the 2000s. “It was given to me by E-40 during domino games we used to play during studio sessions,” he says of his latest moniker. In addition to E-40, he recorded independently with Bay Area artists Yukmouth and Dru Down, developing a frenetic, bass-heavy sound consistent with his circle of collaborators.

“I knew the potential loss when I decided to make the change, but knew it was absolutely necessary to avoid being artistically boxed in,” he says.

Portland ties and an extended prison bid also feature heavily in Hanif Collins’ trajectory. Arrested on robbery charges at age 17, Collins was tried as an adult under Oregon law and sentenced to six years behind bars. While some of his high school classmates enrolled at Oregon State, the university, Collins settled in at Oregon State, the correctional facility. He read prolifically, further developed his Muslim faith, and cultivated the rap persona Luck-One, an acronym for Living Under Capitalism is Knowing that Oppression is Nearly Everywhere. Like many of his fellow inmates, he dreamed of a career in music. “Everybody in prison wants to be a rapper,” he says.

Upon his release in 2009, Luck-One returned to Portland and released his first project Beautiful Music, a deeply reflective record featuring heartfelt autobiographical accounts and sharp third-person narratives. “Everything pretty much went according to plan,” he says. “But I didn’t really know how to capitalize on the buzz I was getting.”

Subsequent releases such as 2011’s True Theory garnered similar critical acclaim, but Luck-One became frustrated by his difficulty finding a national audience. “In Portland you can rock a sold-out show, sell 50 CDs, and the next day you go back to work,” he says. “It’s one of the worst markets in the nation. It’s like selling salt in the Sahara.”

In December 2013, he moved to New York City and left Luck-One behind in Oregon. “One of the definitions of insanity is doing the same thing and expecting a different result,” he says. He began recording as Hanif (stylized as HANiF) and quickly adapted to New York’s evolving rap scene. “It’s not the '90s where you pass out fliers anymore,” he says. “Your network determines your net worth.”

“I felt like Luck-One had ran its course,” HANiF says of his former alias. “I wanted to be more honest with my fans, giving them better insight into my life. Luck-One was attached to some street stuff I didn’t really like. I felt like I had to recreate myself as an artist.”

HANiF is currently in the studio with his Harlem neighbor Devo Springsteen, a Grammy-winning producer who’s worked with Kanye West, Nas, Common and John Legend. “With HANiF, I’ve reached a whole new plane of thinking and existing,” he says. “I’m about to have a child. I’d been kind of the same person for the last six years and now a lot is changing for me. Luck-One was something I came up with so long ago.”

Even in light of the successes Green and Collins experienced early in their recording careers, both have sought a clean slate in order to leave behind the artistic frustration, commercial tepidity and legal troubles of their young adulthoods. After establishing themselves in multiple cities, preparing for first-time fatherhood, and undergoing spiritual awakenings, Kenny Kingpin and HANiF recognize the missteps of Laquan, Poppa LQ and Luck-One, and plan to use these lessons to their future advantage. Far from escaping their true identities via fictitious alter egos, they’ve settled upon characters that better capture their adult selves, and neither worries about leaving a listenership behind.

“It was spurred by artistic considerations,” Kenny Kingpin says of his latest identity shift. “I don’t feel I’ve missed out on the opportunity to capitalize.”

“I didn’t really know who I was until I turned 30,” HANiF says. “Luck-One was undergraduate, HANiF is master’s level.” - LA Weekly

"Spotlight: HANiF’s Anti-Hipster Rap Brings Boom-Bap"

HANiF is a New York City native whose February E.P. 12 Inch Vinyls is a 5-track snapshot of contemporary boom-bap, the sounds reminiscent of a previous era, but the content is unmistakably contemporary. On “Gentrify,” the MC unpacks the socio-economic perils of gentrification in cities like the Big Apple, where communities of color are overwhelmingly priced out of their neighborhoods as more upwardly mobile residents seek more affordable rents, effectively wiping out entire blocks of families and businesses. “Miss Kenya” is a love song as only Hip-Hop can make and plays like Black Star’s “Brown Skin Lady,” but for a 2015 crowd. In part, the goal of the project was to incorporate his thoughtfully constructed lyricism with his tendency towards synth-heavy, sample-free production and, as he explains, his fans are appreciative. “My fans are always like ‘Yo! Give us the some raw Golden Era!’ I felt like people had been anxious to hear me go in over some straight boom-bap, so I gave ’em what they asked for.”

Having grown up in Portland, Oregon, HANiF tells Ambrosia for Heads that “coming back to New York was inevitable. After climbing to the top of the proverbial totem pole where I’m from, I had to get to a bigger city in order to make the most of my abilities. It was either New York or Los Angeles. And I’m not cool enough for Los Angeles [laughs], so here I am.” As a self-proclaimed “master barber,” his connection to the vitality of the city is embodied through the storytelling of his clients, which in large part drives his motivation to recreate the stories through his music. “It’s the singularity of all of these countless yet entirely unique interactions that inspires me the most,” he shares.

Also helping to form his musical perspective are his surroundings, bi-coastal by geography yet universal in similarities, particularly when it came to “Gentrify.” “In 2014, Portland was the most moved-to city in America,” he says. “I grew up in a neighborbood where the streets are named things like Killingsworth, Failing, and Hate. Nowadays, these are the same places where they shoot the show Portlandia. I say that to say I know a thing or two about gentrification.” These experiences are prevalent in “Gentrify’s” concept and video, a social critique whose undertones of humor (“Big ups to White guys that live next to the crack spot and dress like ‘Where’s Waldo?’ but never lack guap/They did like 17 years at the university and moved here to experience diversity, jackpot”) speak to a very real, and sometimes tragic ill of modern civilization, and HANiF does it all with refreshing self-awareness. “The saddest part of it all is that people are so prone to a superficial analysis of the stimuli with which they are confronted that what is actually a phenomenon of capital gets mistaken for a phenomenon of race. Tragic, really because I live on 145th street and I can guarantee you I’m making more money than most of my neighbors. So I’m a gentrifier! Yet due to my complexion, I’ll likely get a pass from all the long-time residents: however; conversations like this would come up in my Harlem apartment over and over again and so as I processed it all (I already had the song, I wrote that in Portland), I decided the best way to give it to the world was with humor. So we shot the video with the hopes of making a dense subject light, and an uncomfortable conversation fun.”

In the several months since he’s released 12 Inch Vinyls, HANiF has been busy working on his “grittiest, grimiest, and most hardcore street shit yet.” This time around, he’s drawing inspiration from his more turbulent personal experiences, which include what he calls a “significant amount of time in prison” after being “in the streets for a LONG time.” Working extensively with Grammy-winning producer and songwriter Devo Springsteen (credited with spearheading John Legend’s success after getting him signed to Kanye West’s GOOD Music imprint in 2003 in addition to Grammy-winning work on West’s “Diamonds [from Sierra Leone])” and some major-label features are helping shape his forthcoming work, which has yet to be formally announced. When asked about his future aspirations, he says “Tupac used to say the ‘W’ dont stand for West Coast, but that the ‘W’ stands for war. We out here fighting everyday, whether it’s with the police, with each other, or with ourselves. Consider my discography a war report from an unflinching observer. I’m the Frantz Fannon of this shit. Plus my freestyles crazy [laughs].” - Ambrosiaforheads.com

"HANiF. Releases Golden Era Themed EP, Tours W/Pete Rock And Slum Village"

In a time when entire albums are manifested over a span of mere weeks, “12 Inch Vinyls”, a concept project from beginning to end, is a 7 track EP curated over the past three years. Classic in it’s aesthetic, yet timeless in it’s execution, HANiF. and 5th Sequence have succeeded in meeting the mark of making music that is most memorable for it’s ability to evoke the emotions so colorfully described in the stories that frame it’s poignant narrative. Effortless lyricism backed by swinging drums patterns and breezy chops. Absolutely worth a listen for the lover of true music that moves the soul. - AllHipHop.com

"HANiF. Talks Name Change, Switching Coasts, And ‘Twelve Inch Vinyls’"

In the last year or so, a lot has happened for HANiF, formerly known as Luck-One Conscious or just Luck for short. After spending the entirety of his rap career being based out of Portland, Oregon, he uprooted and now calls Harlem his home. Around that time, too, he decided to go by his government name HANiF, which also “rolls off tongue a lot better than Luck-One Conscious.”

Twelve Inch Vinyls is his first project to drop since his big move. Even though he’s gone from the laid back style of life in the Pac NW to the hustle and bustle of New York, as someone who’s followed his career for years, I can’t help but feel like he sounds contented, and comfortable, almost relaxed. In this EP, it’s feels distinctly New York with golden era vibes galore thanks to slick wordplay, energetic horns, and lively drums. With as selective ear for beats as he’s had since forever, he achieves a consistent sound throughout the five tracks by teaming up with producer 5th Sequence.

“I consider myself a craftsman,” he said, “So I like to do concepts, [and] a boom bap project with Fifth seemed like the right move. It came natural.” But, don’t be all concerned and think that HANiF is full scale golden era purist now that he’s in New York. Quite the contrary, actually.

HANiF always has a lot to say. For example, take “Gentrify,” a commentary on the national trend of whitewashing communities from coast to coast, from Luck’s Northeast Portland to Hanif’s new Harlem homegoing on across the nation. On the track, he balances with facts and humorous twists.

“Even though it’s one of my shortest projects, it’s also one of my most personal,” he says of the EP. Besides commentary in “Gentrify,” he also includes a special sketch of his passion for music in general, and how that evolved into a love of hip hop in particular.

As a result, HANiF hips us to his overall approach to music, or reminds us if you’re familiar with him. In an era where music feels very disposable and fleeting, it’s comforting to know that he isn’t in it all for immediate gratification. More importantly, though, he’s not sugarcoating anything or dumbing his message down.

“As long as what you’re saying is real, someone will always get it…somewhere,” he declares. “It might take ten generations, or happen on the other side of the globe but it WILL happen. Besides, how boring would it be if I just made music for RIGHT NOW? This is where I use the thumbs down emoji.”

The main change from his change in scenery, he tells me by email, besides the lack of trees in the concrete jungle of New York, is that it’s far more business oriented. “New York’s putting me in ALL SORTS of circles,” he explains, as he’s about to embark on a national tour with Pete Rock and Slum Village.

Regardless of where he’s living, or what he’s calling himself, Twelve Inch Vinyls shows that he’s still the same artist focused on his craft, which is only improving. - Uproxx.com - The Smoking Section


In an industry that’s overly saturated with rappers and artists that fabricate false lifestyles but can barely keep your attention for the entirety of their verse, it’s imperative to celebrate an artist like Hanif Collins. The Portland, Oregon bred musician, formerly known as Luck One, has captivated audiences all across the country with his powerful, conscious and enjoyable lyricism. His upcoming project, Twelve Inch Vinyls, is shaping up to be one the best of his very young career. In what seems like such a short time Hanif has released an array of projects and has performed with Hip-Hop notables like The Game, Macklemore & Ryan Lewis, Wale, Talib Kweli, Bone Thugz N Harmony and many more. Not to mention he has an upcoming tour planned with Hip-Hop legend Pete Rock. Not bad right? As hard as it is to believe, this is just the beginning for Portland’s breakout superstar.
Hanif’s love for Hip-Hop began during a Planet Asia set, during Portland’s annual event Hip-Hop In The Park. A then young Hanif stared in awe as the entire crowd had their hands waving up and down and side to side. In between being awe struck and enjoying the show, Hanif joined the crowd throwing his hands in the air while simultaneously deciding that becoming an artist was his calling. From that day forward, Hanif was dedicated to getting better and he would dream of the moment that he could perform on a stage of his own.
Though the success in his career seems to be developing almost overnight, it wasn’t. Problems for Hanif began at age 17 when he was convicted on armed-robbery charges and sentenced to six years in jail. Fortunately, he emerged from jail a new man and emerged from prison seeking a positive future rather than dwelling on his crime-ridden past.

Fast forward just a few years and Hanif is currently the biggest artist coming out of the Northwest. Musically, Hanif sits atop the Hip-Hop industry in regards to the quality of music he releases. His upcoming project, Twelve Inch Vinyls can be best described as a golden era themed EP. Boom bap meets its future on Twelve Inch Vinyls, the beat selections are crisp and catchy, and his flow is undeniably impressive joined by plenty of advocating of self-empowerment.
Hanif has made quite a name for himself over the years. From performing with the industry’s best to delivering quality material. Now a New York City resident, Hanif has stayed consistent and his fans are enjoying all that he has accomplished. His humble and at sometimes troubled beginnings have made him the strong, independent and intelligent man he is today. Hanif’s upcoming project will reflect just that and many are anxious to hear the conceptual music he’s been working on. - Parle Magazine

"Premiere: HANiF. ‘Servant II The King’ (Prod. By TMak)"

Blazing mics in the the underground as Luck-One, the man behind the persona has decided to step forward under his government name, HANiF. Looking to express his views on religion, social issues, poverty and more, he serves up his latest video aptly titled “Servant II The King” — a bonus track produced by TMak from his recently released 12 Inch Vinyls EP.

“Don’t need a shoddy to put a hole in your body, I roll with a bunch of socialists, militants, and jihadis NIF! means I’m uptight, back on my salaats now, Lucky got ‘em uptight how i hold the block, DOWN!,” raps HANIF on the track.

“It’s a concept album, reminiscent of the 1990s,” says HANIF about his new project. “I consider myself a craftsman and so I like to challenge myself. The album is full of stories about coming up in the ‘90s and seminal points in my life. It’s a good introduction to who I am and it’s steeped in the foundations of hip-hop. The content matches the sonic aesthetic.” - Vibe Magazine

"HANiF. & 5th Sequence - 12 Inch Vinyls EP"

In anticipation of the project's retail release on Tuesday, February 24, Hanif. and 5th Sequence are offering up their new joint EP, 12 Inch Vinyls, for full, free streaming exclusively in The DJBooth. The project packs five original collaborative cuts, as well as two bonus tracks. Included is reader-approved lead single "Feels So Good." Adrian Adel makes the sole guest appearance, while 5th Sequence handles production with assistance from Chi Duly and Tmak. In regard to the EP's concept and inspiration, Hanif. states, "Me and 5th Sequence started recording this project just over three years ago. It is a short record, but it has definitely been slow cooked to a point where it sounds exactly like we wanted to. The challenge we embarked upon was to make [a] record that was reminiscent of a classic aesthetic, yet timeless in it's execution. The most poignant art is art that evokes emotion, in order to meet that mark, it has long been a practice of mine to wait until I was [seized] by an emotion to recreate it in the music. We wrote and recorded most of these records in the summer time. The whole project is a concept. From me talking about my first show where I fell in love with hip-hop watching Planet Asia turn out a crowd of neighborhood regulars and late-'90s gentrifiers, to 'Frontin' on the Rappin' where I actually take the opening scene of a semi-autobiographical screenplay I wrote 10 years ago while serving prison time; the stories, even when fictional are still real. This record is boom-bap meets it's future. An ode to the '90s from right here in the present moment. As a craftsman, I adhere to the ideal that an artist should have many styles. This is just one more brilliant stroke in the tapestry of [my] and 5th's career. Enjoy." Read more at: http://djbooth.net/albums/review/hanif-5th-sequence-12-inch-vinyls-ep - DJBooth.net

"Mic Check: HANiF. (formerly Luck-One)"

A little over a year ago, rapper Hanif Collins left Portland as Luck-One. Now, he's coming back as Hanif. Or rather, HANiF.—please write the period. Once the self-proclaimed "King of the Northwest," Collins felt he'd gone as far up the local totem pole as he cared to go, and decided to try his "luck," so to speak, in the cradle of hip-hop culture, New York City. So far, he's done pretty well for himself. He's pressed flesh with Kanye West. He's appeared on iconic rap radio station Hot 97. He's dropped an EP. And he's currently on tour with the legendary Pete Rock, bringing him back to the land he once ruled over, at least for a night. On the eve of his return engagement, we chatted with the always-outspoken MC about his name change, meeting Yeezus, the Eric Garner protests and whether he'd ever consider returning to the Northwest for good.

WW: How'd you end up on this tour?

HANiF.: I don't think it's nothing but God. My old manager, who I actually kinda-sorta fired, hit me up out of the blue and was like, "You want to go on tour with Pete Rock and Slum Village?" It was just weird, because I turned 30 last year, and I was doing some things in the street and getting some income from that, just trying to stay afloat, and I made some decisions to leave those things alone. As soon as I did, that's when I met Kanye, I went on Hot 97, and then the tour pops up. So I don't know if you call it God, good karma, the universe—I started doing certain things and stopped doing certain things, and everything started coming together.

Back up. You met Kanye?

My manager wanted to go to this private party for John Legend's birthday. My lawyer had an invite, because him and Kanye's cousin went to college together, and his cousin had introduced John Legend—John Stephens then—to Kanye. I walk in, and my lawyer's like, "So, Kanye and Kim are here." It's a small place. Think the size of Ash Street Saloon without the bar area. I'm looking, and I'm like, "Kanye's not here, man." The elevator opens up. Robert De Niro walks out. Questlove walks out. Q-Tip walks out. Then Kanye and Kim Kardashian walk out. I'm not a fanboy at all, but I definitely had a moment of, "Damn, Kanye's within an arm's reach of me." We chopped it up. He's hella cool, just an ordinary rapper.

So did you talk shop with him?

We chopped it up pretty tough. We're working on doing some things with GOOD Music. That's now my inner circle. My management team, my lawyer, are all dudes that work in the industry. My manager used to work at Interscope for 10 years, my lawyer used to work at Def Jam. Now I'm in a circle with them. It's not like I'm gonna run up on Kanye and spit a verse, but the possibility of me being in his presence again isn't unlikely at all.

Is that the biggest difference of being an artist in New York as opposed to Portland, where you can find yourself just happening into the same circle as Kanye West?

Even in Portland, there are a lot of rappers who are dope, but they're not happening to find themselves in my presence or Cool Nutz presence. If you put in work in Portland, you can meet Illmaculate or get noticed by Myke Bogan or Cool Nutz who might give you some game or an opportunity, but there's really no industry. Its just rappers and other rappers with varying degrees of success. Whereas in New York, if you're putting in work, you have access to meet anyone who had anything to do with music ever. I'm a barber by trade, and I was cutting the hair of this old Jewish dude, and it turns out he produced two entire albums for Wu Tang. That's why I left: I've climbed to the top of this totem pole, at least as high as I cared to go, in Portland, Ore., and now other rappers are jealous of me or whatever. I'll just vacate and let them see. Last time I was in Portland, I told Tope, "You're getting all this blog love, everyone's got their eyes on you. You see how worthless it all is? It doesn't matter. You're still in Oregon, man. You're gonna open up for anyone, kill the show, burn it to the ground, and tomorrow you're going to go to work." That's the main difference. In New York, you're dealing with people who are in the industry. It's not people who rap or used to rap or maybe know somebody. When I pick up my ASCAP check, I go to ASCAP.

Would that be your advice to rappers still in Portland? Basically, get the hell out?

I can only speak on what works for me. I'm not going to act like there's a formula for this or I've got all the answers. I'm as clueless as most of these dudes out here. People look at me like I'm supposed to be some rapper in the game. They don't know, man. The van broke down in D.C. We're driving 55 miles per hour from city to city because it's got 210,000 miles and might break down at any moment. They see the Instagram photos and think I'm living the rap life. We're really just scraping by. So any advice I can give an artist is one, follow your heart. Make music that means something to you, and make sure you're in it for the right reasons because this game will eat you alive if you're not. And two, just use intelligence and calculate your moves as much as you can. Put some forethought into what you're doing, and look at the rappers who are doing what you want to do—not the rappers you're competing with in Portland, Ore. Look at the rappers who are doing what you want to do and maybe take some game from that. In Portland, it becomes a huge circle jerk. I've spoke all this before. Everybody's trying to compete with everybody when you're all on the same team. Everyone's trying to one-up everyone else, but nobody even knows who any of us are. So it's one of those things if you believe in what you're doing, and you keep doing it, someone's gonna mess with you. I'm a testament to that, but I don't have the answers.

Why'd you change back to your birth name?

First, Luck-One kind of sounds like an old rapper. Like, "Luck-One's gonna kick that real hip-hop!" It doesn't really fit what I'm doing at this juncture. And also, I turned 30 last year, and someone told me the other day you don't really know who you are until you're in your 30s. I don't know how it is for everyone else, because everyone processes time and experiences differently, but for me, that's definitely the case. I feel like I'm going to be a much better artist in my 30s than I was in my 20s. And I thought I did pretty well in my 20s. I feel like, transformatively, I've gone through a lot of changes, and the things I want to speak on, the way I want to do it, my attack, my approach, my presentation when I go places and what I'm representing, is totally different now, because I have a greater sense of self. So I felt like Hanif is a really powerful name, if you know what that means, it means a lot. I felt like it also spoke to a lot of who I am and who I want to be. It's better than Luck-One. Luck-One I came up with when I was a kid, and that was also attached to some street stuff. Hanif is more authentic. I want to be more authentic in this developmental stage of my career.

So are you completely starting over, or is there still bits of Luck-One in what you're doing now?

I like to think every time I put out a piece of music I'm starting over. If you listen to my projects, none of them sound the same, except the ones that are the sequels. They all sound like a different rapper. People would be like, "I heard Beautiful Music and you sound like Immortal Technique, then I heard King of the Northwest and you sound like Pusha T." I'm a craftsman. My new project is a boom-bap project. The whole thing is golden era. So I like to dabble. You should have more than one style. So I don't look at the name change as really any type of significant change artistically, it's more like what I'm standing for as a person and, by extension of that, as an artist.

How do you feel like New York has affected you as an artist?

New York has really shown me how dope of a scene Portland, Ore., has. There are so many dope rappers, there's just no way out of there. But New York has no underground rap scene at all. It doesn't exist. There's Jay Z, there's French Montana and then there's the dudes who live on the block with me. There's no underground rap shows people are excited to go to. Once you've put in the amount of work an Illmac has put in, or even a Mic Capes, in New York City, you become the Underachievers. Because Vice magazine is there. Because XXL is there. Instead of Willamette Week picking up a piece on Glenn Waco, it's The Source. So there is no underground. To answer your question, that's the main thing it's taught me. We underestimate the ability and raw talent we have in Portland. And I think it's really a powder keg that's about to blow.

It sounds like you're saying the drop-off from the haves and have-nots in the rap scene is much bigger than it is in other cities. Like, your competition is Jay Z.

But see, that's the thing. I've always seen Jay Z as my competition. I never competed with Illmaculate or the Sandpeople. I never saw it like that. I think that's how I was able to do what I did in Portland. These dudes get so caught up in trying to be on the blogs everyone else is on. I'm like, "Man, why are you worried about these other rappers in Portland?" These dudes aren't making any money off their rap. There's like five of us making money off rap. And it's a meager living. Most of us are, like, selling weed. It's real! How many rappers in Portland are sustaining themselves with rap music? So I said this years ago: My competition is Lupe Fiasco, it's Kanye West. I've always felt that way.

Do you feel like you appreciate Portland's hip-hop scene more now that you've been away from it?

I always appreciated it the same. I guess I have a greater appreciation for the talent level. I was guilty of thinking, "I'm hot, I'm a big fish in a small pond," but then I came to New York and I'm knocking everything down, and I'm like, "I've really been sharpening my blade against one of the best stones in the nation." I guess I do have a greater appreciation for it. I've been singing that song, though, that Portland is where the best rappers on earth come from. But living in New York, I've seen a dude come out with a cape on and rap a bunch of things that don't rhyme with dancers who had miner lights on their heads. I've seen some of the most comically ridiculous stuff in New York City's hip-hop scene. So I think I do have a greater appreciation for it now that I'm looking at it from afar. Rappers in New York are used to just being discovered. You go from rapping on the block to being famous. That's it. There's no grind, there's no process, there's no figuring out what works and what doesn't. It's just, "I'm nice, my cousin such-and-such is going to come take me on his golden chariot to stardom."

You were involved with the incident at the Blue Monk last year. Did you follow the fallout at all?

Generally speaking, when it comes to politics, I don't really pay attention to the minutiae. I rely on my concrete understanding of the broader themes characterizing and coloring these events to really understand what's happening. If they say, "We're going to war with Iran," if you know why Americans go to war, they only go to war when there's resources or some political situation when their leaders won't bow down to our imperialist agenda. So I don't need to know the excuse or the reason. I know what's going on. It's kind of how I looked at the police situation. "OK, you're now realizing the police are racist, because they shut down a rap show. They killed a bunch of my friends. You think they can't shut down a rap show? They shot and killed a number of my friends for no reason." So the whole thing with the Blue Monk: I just don't care. My message is, to everyone who wants to get even and get justice with the police—go get some money and I guarantee they'll leave you alone. If you weren't broke, if you were driving a Mercedes-Benz, they wouldn't pull you out of it and beat you up. Rich people never get discriminated against by the police, ever. If that's what you're after, go get some money. Otherwise, that's part of their job.

They can do whatever they want. People who believe in the law are just sheep. Politics is economics for people who don't understand capital. The police protect property. But if you want to believe what you were taught in schools—that were funded by the government—to believe in liberty and justice, that's not real. I said when that happened, "We need to go to the Bureau of Labor and Industries [and say], 'They're infringing upon our rights to conduct business in a legitimate fashion.'" But they wanted to talk about justice and freedom and black people, and that's not an argument you're going to win. As soon as you talk about race, you alienate most people in Portland who are not ethnic. But in actuality, what they're doing is infringing upon your business. I lost a lot of money that evening, and that's the main issue of contention. But people are so small-minded. They'd rather have a march and hold a megaphone and feel good about themselves, and the police are still doing the same thing. It's not like they're going to pass a law that says it's illegal to harass niggas. [Laughs.] Politics is just economics for people who don't understand capital. You can't watch the news, so you get a cartoon. It's for dumb people. I don't follow that stuff.

What was it like being in New York during the Eric Garner protests?

Oh, the Eric Garner Festival, where they had undercover police leading the marches? "C'mon guys, right this way, let's keep walking in a circle." We went down there and said, "Let's shut down the trains. Let's chain ourselves to the trains." No one was trying to do that. "Let's sit down in the middle of Times Square and get arrested." No one wanted to do that. It's not even a protest. You're not protesting the law, you're just walking around until you get tired and go home. Stuff is a joke, man. I don't take any of that stuff seriously. Eric Garner was not killed because he was black. Eric Garner was killed because he was poor. And poor people are not represented by a police force that's there to protect property. He didn't own any property, so of course you're going to be discriminated against. If you're not a shareholder in a corporation, you don't get a vote. That's how it works.

Do you ever envision any situation that would bring you back to Portland?

Yeah, I'll be back in Portland in two weeks for a show! I mean, that'll probably be as long as I'll be back. I love Portland, but the city I grew up in doesn't exist anymore. I'm not from the Northeast—I'm from the Notorious Northeast. I'm from 19th Avenue. That doesn't exist anymore. But the earth is my turf, man. I grew up really poor, so we lived everywhere. I'm able to adapt. But I can't go back to where I came from, because it doesn't exist anymore. They've turned it into a coffee shop.

Do you still think of yourself as the King of the Northwest, then?

Man, something I learned is God is the king, and if you try to usurp his title he will humble you, bro. I'm just Hanif now. - Willamette Week

"Luck-Luck-One Changes His Name To HANiF, Keeps His Usual Wit"

“All I’m saying is, I agree with riding bikes…in theory.”

You ever hear something and just know that it’s going to be gold? Hanif, formerly known as Luck-One, begins his video for “Gentrify” by riling up yours truly with the mention of bicyclists, all of which just so happen to be my arch nemeses. And that’s only the beginning!

While the Portland, Oregon, emcee switched his name up shortly after his relocation across the country to Harlem, he’s still the same old Luck-One that we’ve all listened to, ran it back because he rapped so quick, and then laughed when we finally caught on to things like he says in “Gentrify.” Even if it takes a couple listens to absorb Hanif’s take on gentrification, the visual itself is just as entertaining. One can always count on Hanif to include some sociological commentary, and break it up with his wit. - Uproxx.com - The Smoking Section

"Luck-One on MTV Rapfix w/YMCMB President Mack Maine & Sway Calloway"

During Wednesday’s (March 20) episode of “RapFix Live” Portland rapper Luck-One was featured on our “Get in the Game” segment where he got some feedback from YMCMB’s Mack Maine and DJ Whoo Kid. Unfortunately, we were running a bit late and the clip got cut short. Luck-One was bold enough to tell Sway that he’d cut the video before his best verse, so….our apologies. See his “RapFix Live” segment above. - MTV

"HANiF. Portland Exit Interview"

Exit Interview: Luck-One
The Portland rapper discusses his move to New York, his feelings on the local hip-hop scene, and offers advice for fellow MCs: "Stop biting my style."
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. - Willamette Week

"HANiF. restarts life devoted to rap and responsibility"

Five-year-old Felipe Gonzalez strolls out of the neighborhood grocery waving a purple Popsicle and juggling a bottle of iced tea.

"Stop," says the young man with the little boy. "Your shoe is untied again."

Hanif Collins, a friend of Felipe's father, drops to one knee in the wet, rainy parking lot and ties the lace. The boy leans in and rests the icy Popsicle on Collins' neck. They smile and stand.

"You da bad guy," Felipe says, giggling as the two continue down the street.

"No," Collins answers with a playful poke. "You da bad guy."

Hanif Collins thinks a lot these days about what it means to be a bad guy and a good man. He was a boy who let impulse and anger unravel his life. Now he wants to be the man who can tie his life back together.

When he was 17, Collins pointed a gun at some drug dealers and stole their pot. In Oregon, there's no leniency for armed robbery. Not even if you're young. Collins was tried as an adult and spent nearly six years in prison.

Released at 23, Collins faced the chance to start again. He needed to find work despite a felony record and the worst recession in decades. He wanted to chase his dream of becoming a rapper. And he decided the only way to mourn a good friend was to be there for that friend's little boy.

OregonianHanif Collins and Felipe Gonzalez Jr. leave the library on Northeast Killingsworth Street where Collins and Felipe, 5, read books in English and Spanish. Collins hopes that spending time with his friend's son will help the boy on his journey to manhood.Collins doesn't fit the cliche of the young black man who finds trouble. He did not grow up an underprivileged child from a broken home.

He had two loving parents, played the alto sax in Metropolitan Youth Symphony ensembles from fifth through 11th grade. His devout Muslim family encouraged their youngest son to read books and think for himself.
So when his parents, Aqiylah and Omar Collins, first saw their son after his arrest, inside that tiny waiting room at the juvenile detention center, even before the hug, Aqiylah Collins couldn't help but ask:

"Why are you here?"

Collins put his head down and said, "Bad choices."

"I just wanted to be sure," his mother continued, "because we did everything society tells you you're supposed to do. We put you in after-school programs. You had mentors. You were in the youth symphony. We did everything we could to give you the resources to be successful. ... So, I just want to be sure about why you are here."

At 17, Collins was working and going to school full time. He and his friend, Felipe Gonzalez, were part of a rap group called the 7th Science Collective. They were born 17 days apart, loved to spar with words and were about to release their first album.

But Collins confesses that he also had a lot of anger. Maybe it came from reading books like the "Autobiography of Malcolm X" when he was 11.

"I read a lot of things that were good for me to read, but I don't think I was really ready for them," he says. "It kind of caused me, I think, to take a stance like anti-everything. Anti-society."

The summer of 2002, he remembers, was "the summer of chaos."

"I was around a lot of people doing negative things, and I was one of them. I wasn't innocent."

In fact, he bluntly confesses, "I was a stick-up kid."

The more he robbed people, the more invincible he felt. So when a friend talked about robbing a guy living in an affluent Portland suburb who had a lot of weed, Collins was in.

Only this time, Collins said, he had a bad feeling.

"We were driving out there and I was thinking, 'Man, this might be my last one.'"

June 26, 2002: The robbery went pretty much as planned. But when Collins and his partner got back to the car, they found the driver had shut off the motor, was smoking a cigarette and listening to the radio. That gave the angry drug dealers time to catch up.

Afraid of being shot, Collins drew his .22 caliber handgun and pulled the trigger. The gun jammed. He and his partner handed the marijuana over and ran. They were about two blocks away when they realized their driver wasn't behind them.

They went back only to discover he'd run in a different direction. And, they found a swarm of police cars and motorcycles.

On Dec. 13, 2002, Collins began a 70-month prison sentence. He was young. Outspoken. Defiant. He spent eight months in the custody of the Oregon Youth Authority, then was transferred to adult prison. He arrived at the Eastern Oregon Correctional Institution near Pendleton wearing a white jumpsuit and rubber sandals.

He felt like the kid he was.

"You're chained to about 20 dudes by your wrists and your ankles. And you're shuffling in with those tiny little steps," he says. "I'm 18. Just imagine that. These dudes are convicts, killers, tattoos on their face."

Unlike the movie portrayals of solitary confinement, Collins found the hole wasn't such a bad thing. He fasted. Prayed. Exercised. He played solo chess, taught himself to speak Spanish and read voraciously.

He was days from finishing a 120-day stint for a fight when the letter arrived.

Out of all his "homies" on the outside, his friend Felipe was one of the few who never wrote him after he went to jail. Collins had started a letter to his friend many times in his head: "Ey dog, what's up man? How you living?"

The letter from Sonny, Collins' cousin, was pretty typical until Sonny mentioned that he'd gone to Felipe's wake.

Collins stopped reading.

Excuse me?

Felipe was killed in a car accident, Sonny wrote. He died on impact.

Collins must have read that letter 50 times. "I never had anybody close to me just die."

A year and three days from getting out of prison, Collins had counted the long days but suddenly he understood how short life can be.

He promised himself he'd make up for lost time. He'd make sure his life stood for something. Later, he remembered Felipe in a song he wrote: "Yo, I knew a young man shining lost his life in a crash, 22 but living life in a flash, the cycles impasse/was taken from the righteous with his likable mass and all I'm think is that coulda been me/ "

Two months after Sonny's letter, Collins wrote to Felipe's parents: "Hearing about my boy's untimely demise, I felt a lot of regret."

In neat cursive on two pages of lined notebook paper, he closed with a promise: "I heard that since my imprisonment Felipe had a son. I would very much like it if, when I get out and Lord willing get my life together, I could play a part in helping him along in his journey to manhood."

OregonianHanif Collins performs at an Old Town club. His counselor says lots of young men get out of prison wanting to be rappers. Collins is the only one he knows who is actually doing it.It's a hot July night and almost a year to the day since Collins got out of prison. He greets a mostly white audience at the Southeast Portland club Rotture like an old pro.
"Hey, yo! What's up Portland? How ya doing out there?"

Wearing baggy jeans, an oversized orange T-shirt and a necklace of wood beads that had belonged to Felipe, Collins introduces himself to the crowd as "Luck-One Conscious" -- his emcee name.

Then he dives into a rap: "Back in 1984, a child came glow on the low, lo and behold I was fresh..."

Young women in tight jeans push their way to the front to dance and flirt.

After the set, the crowd lines up to buy the CDs Collins sells from a cracked brown vinyl bag slung over his shoulder.

The CD, "Beautiful Music," contains seven tracks ranging from synthesized '80s beat to jazzy blues to bang-it-out rap. The lyrics speak to prison and prejudice but also to peace and a 17-year-old girl who "abolished the misconception of her race" by graduating with a scholarship. The songs recognize reality but also urge listeners to dream.

Surrounded by the crowd, Collins wipes his sweat with a towel someone offers. In a voice hoarse from performing, he jokes that he feels like a rock star.

Life is good.

But not like a rock star.

"Home" now is a small room on the fifth floor of an old downtown Portland hotel. Collins cooks with a hotplate, convection oven and toaster.

His bookshelf overflows with titles for a young man intent on improvement: Barack Obama's "Audacity of Hope," "Gandhi: An Autobiography," "The Souls of Black Folk" by W.E.B. DuBois. There's also: "The Idiots Guide to Real Estate Investing," "Spanish the Easy Way" and "Limited Liability Companies for Dummies."

In the weeks before he got out of prison, Collins' parents worried about their son. He'd become an adult while locked up. His father wondered: Had his boy matured psychologically?

Shortly after his release, Collins went to his parents' Vancouver home seeking advice. That, Omar Collins notes with a smile, was something his son had not done before.

Collins had been warned about the sour economy and scarcity of jobs. But he was determined.

"I always felt like there's nothing that can stop an individual as long as they put their mind to it," he says. "I was like, 'I don't know what you're doing but I know what I'm doing and getting a job is mandatory.'"

It didn't take long for him to talk his way into an office, answering phones, filing and doing simple accounting. He had a hunch it wouldn't last. His skills were rusty, and he admits he spent too much time on the Internet.

His back-up plan involved a trade apprentice program to become a roofer.

By the time he was laid off from the office job, Collins had lined up roofing work. But in August, with construction slow, he was laid off again.

These days Collins is working two jobs and says he may have to line up a third. He's marketing gourmet cookware, and this week, he landed a second job canvassing customers for a home siding company.

Music remains his priority, and Collins invests money from performances back into his business, "Architect Entertainment LLC."

Proceeds from his CD -- $420 so far -- go to FreeTheKids.org, a nonprofit that helps impoverished children in Haiti. Collins says he wants to use his music to create some good.

"I could take this money and buy T-shirts and stuff," he says. "But to them it means so much more."

Justin Heilenbach, the counselor who helped Collins make the transition from prison to the outside, says at least one in 10 of the young inmates he works with wants to be a rapper. Collins "is the only one who is doing it."

Still on parole supervision, Collins has received permission to travel to other states for performances. This fall he flew to Miami and then on to Atlanta.

He sends reviews, show posters and pictures to his friends who are still locked up.

Nicholas McCarty, an inmate at a medium security prison near Salem, says he's heard Collins on a local station, KXJM 107.5, on Saturday nights.

"For people that know him, it's inspiring to hear his music," says McCarty, 29. "He symbolizes to me the ability to use will to overcome obstacles."

Collins says rap is all he ever wanted to do, all he and Felipe ever talked about. He knows it sounds strange, but he guesses he'd become a teacher if the music thing doesn't work out.

But for now, rap is his world. And he feels as though Felipe is guiding him.

"I come across scenarios and opportunities, and I feel like he's playing a role presenting them to me. Opening doors for me. You know what I mean? Like, 'I can't do it but you can do it for me. We can do it together.'"

Martin Gonzalez, Felipe's father and a member of the Portland School Board, says he cried when he read the letter Collins wrote two years ago promising to be part of his grandson's life.

"I have to tell you," Gonzalez says, "that young man delivered on what he wrote."

Among the other promises Collins has kept since his release is the one he made to himself.

He logged 23 misconduct violations during his time in prison. He has not had one parole violation since his release.

"As far as getting in trouble," Collins says, "I let that go a long time ago."

-- Michelle Cole - The Oregonian


Still working on that hot first release.



Continuing the lineage of timeless MCs who at once rep a region and transcend geography–Tupac, Nas, more recently Kendrick Lamar—is epic up-and-comer HANiF. An enigmatic and versatile MC, HANiF boasts equal aplomb on grin-inducing boom bap or brow-furrowing street savagery. From the man himself: “A hip-hop artist is supposed to have more than one style and flow. In hip-hop, there’s too much of ‘he’s this kind of artist or that kind of artist.’ Other genres don’t work that way; artists are praised for their growth and for expanding horizons. We all encompass many things in our lives and should express those things in our art.”

This dexterity comes as no surprise given Hanif Collins’ road to visibility. Part of the journey feels all too familiar for black youth in America: Street life begat a prison sentence. But within those confines, HANiF found his voice—a voice for change. He looked to galvanize and uplift his brothers while preparing himself for life on the outside: “Through friction, a blade is tempered. My fire, my struggle was getting locked up. I was able to move past that, learn my lesson, and here I am. But people make the mistake of assuming that if you’re not talking about or glorifying it, you’re not from the same places that others are. That’s wrong. It’s not about promoting a life of crime. When we were in the streets, it wasn’t about a lifestyle. It was about getting paid to leave that behind, to advance yourself.”

And advance HANiF releases his 12-Inch Vinyls EP, The iTunes purchase link is available here: https://itunes.apple.com/us/album/12-inch-vinyls-ep/id964318276?ls=1

The EP is making waves, thanks to the neck-snapper “Feels So Good,” which chronicles HANiF’s road to the present: “Back in ’99, I was a young whippersnapper with hoop dreams/ A ratty Timberland coat, a Portland fitted and Wu jeans/ Had only just begun to meddle with rap / For the ciphers I killed at parties but they said I was wack.”

Well, no one’s calling him wack now. Having built a powerful underground rep under former stage name Luck-One, HANiF stepped out from behind the persona and embraced his faith and the power of his government name. With trademark bravado, he challenges societal convention to its very core—case in point, the tongue-in-cheek didacticism of “Gentrify,” a commentary on America’s displaced ghettos.

Elsewhere on 12-Inch Vinyls, look for the seductive, J. Dilla-inspired funk of “Speakeasy“ and “Miss Kenya” featuring Adrian Adel. Finally, there is “Frontin’ On The Rappin’,” with 2 bonus tracks “Chalk ‘Em Out” featuring Michael Zoah, “Servant II The King” that together close the EP with an 11-minute master class in mic control. HANiF flows first over classic headnod flavor; then a mélange of Chicago house and go-go; finally, over some filthy, ominous trap slathered with sizzlers like “You couldn’t hang if you was Nat Turner.”

Says HANiF of the effort, produced wholly by old-soul savant and self-proclaimed ‘boom bap specialist’ 5th Sequence: “It’s a concept album, reminiscent of the 1990s. I consider myself a craftsman and so I like to challenge myself. The album is full of stories about coming up in the ‘90s and seminal points in my life. It’s a good introduction to who I am and it’s steeped in the foundations of hip-hop. The content matches the sonic aesthetic.”

Frankly, HANiF thinks today’s artists need to delve further: “An artist, a painter, is supposed to work with negative space; As rappers, as wordsmiths, we have to rely solely on words. So if you keep relying on the same few words, you’re not challenging your audience to come into your world; you’re just painting the same picture over and over.”

Consider us convinced, HANiF. We’re looking forward to inhabiting your world.

Band Members