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HANiF is hip-hop’s newest master storyteller

Photo credit: Jasmin Madera

Photo credit: Jasmin Madera

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.