Fans know him as part of the Living Legends collective but Luckyiam has also been a consistent solo artist, dropping albums and tapes since the early 1990s. Traveling from the Bay area to Los Angeles and then around the globe, Lucky is still energized, still making music and still learning about life’s different obstacles, victories and lessons.

This month, Luckyiam is giving away his latest project, I Love Haters, for free. The emcee has linked up with Lifted Research Group to offer it up as a free download on LRG’s website. On this project, Luckyiam shares that “it used to be so simple back then,” and talks about the importance of “another lesson.” Taking a cue from this, HipHopDX chopped it up with Lucky to talk about the simplicity of the past, his upbringing and the significance of life lessons he’s learned along the way. He also discusses the status of the Living Legends and how “onstage is the only time the entire Living Legends crew ever gets together.”

Luckyiam On Overcoming Obstacles & Earning Victories

I made a wrong turn headed down a one-way street
It’s all for nada if I can’t find peace
Completely out of sync with the way I should be
And problems, all the obstacles that I’m supposed to beat.

HipHopDX: When do you think you made that turn? For listeners who’ve had this type of experience, and I think many people can relate, what would be vital to remember when going the wrong way?  
Luckyiam: I probably made that wrong turn after a series of consecutive tours. I did the Paid Dues/Rock The Bells tour. Then I went straight to the Atmosphere Everybody Loves a Clown Tour. I got kicked off the Atmosphere tour bus. Then, I started my first solo tour right after that. I was drinking a lot, wilding out and fucking birds like crazy. By the time my solo tour started, I was partying and doing drugs often. Whenever you are fucking up, it’s vital to remember that there is a better you inside of that shitstorm of a person you have let emerge. The trick is getting back to who that is and being content with him or her.

We essentially sabotage our victories and celebrate our misery
And wonder why we’re feeling depressed, it ain’t a mystery.

DX: How do you feel you’ve personally done this? What can we do, as a people, to avoid this type of negative thinking, this celebration of our misery?

Luckyiam: Well, with the Living Legends, Mystic Journeymen and [other musical groups], I have been blessed to travel the globe and touch hearts minds and souls with music we created, sold hella music, ripped countless shows but I used to concentrate on what I didn’t have or what I had not done. That was sabotage of my accomplishments. Also I got into a stage where I felt the inspiration of pain to create art and I fed off it to make Most Likely 2 Succeed. That, combined with being in a toxic relationship, brought me to a very dark place. I never listen to that album ever, by the way.

DX: Also, CMA’s “The Good Side” comes up when I hear that line. What would you say are additions to “The Good Side” since you first wrote that verse? In other words, how do you feel you’ve improved even more since the “heart of gold” verse?

Luckyiam: I try to work out often. I recycle. [I] have a garden full of vegetables. I never perform drunk or high. I take care of my dog and he’s beautiful and I think I’m more humble these days. I don’t know, I’m pretty chill. 

Luckyiam Reflects On His Past

My father had dreams I abolished
Vicariously living through me was not an option.

DX: What kind of dreams do you feel you abolished? Do you regret your choices or do you feel that it showed your independence and your perseverance to do something that you weren’t necessarily pushed to do by others, something you were driven to do on your own?

Luckyiam: I was a three sport all-star since pop warner football and little league baseball. My whole life was consumed by sports up until my senior year of high school when I just rejected it all. I was being recruited by a dozen colleges for baseball and football, baseball especially. I could have went to the league. But I threw it all away when I got serious about pursuing a life of Hip Hop culture. Dancing, [graffiti writing] and music took over. I know that shit broke my pop’s heart too. I kind of fucked up but I didn’t, I hope.

It used to be so simple back then
Or maybe it was hard and the scars made us men
Maybe we’re in charge of the cause of events
It’s easy moving on, but it’s hard to forget.

DX: When you look back at simpler times, what is your greatest memory? When you look back at the scars that made you a man, what would you say was the deepest cut, one that truly shaped you?

Luckyiam: I have had many scars and they all have collectively shaped me but I have to say the murder of my cousin Tameka in her freshman year at college and when my little homie Kevin Murray was killed in a drive-by a few months before I was gonna get him out of [Los Angeles] cut me really deeply. Those were the first two deaths of people I loved that I was really close to in age and life, period.

Luckyiam On Global Issues & Activism

Thinking about the children crying,
Dying, starving, stuck with AIDS
While people buying magazine
To find what up with Jon & Kate.

DX: This observation is interesting. You’re saying people are focusing attention on a reality television couple while bigger problems are often ignored. What do you think made you more aware of this type of issue as opposed to say, what comes on the TV or the other shows you talk about on another track, “TV in the Afternoon?” What caused you to really wake up to more of the issues outside of your living room?

Luckyiam: I’m a balanced dude due to the travels I’ve experienced, I think. Plus I like to know what is going on around this planet we are on. So, sharing those views in my music is only natural. That reality TV shit is dumb as fuck. I watched some of it in the past but I can’t stomach any of it now, except for Top Shot and Man vs. Food! There are so many other ways to waste your life or not.

Can’t pretend that they don’t exist
Problems tend to stay
Stay until we raise a fist
Stay until we can’t forget
Raise up off the couch
Or the revolution you will miss

DX: How important is activism for you? How important is it to speak to these types of issues? Why?

Luckyiam: It’s important to speak on it but it’s also very important to act on it. I’ve been to some peace rallies and I support causes vocally and on social networks and musically but there is so much more I could do. “Wait till I get my money right” [in a Kanye West tone]. I have to do more if I’m gonna speak out on issues.

I’m reluctantly solo
I show mo’ love for my crew and took hold of low blows
Booked shows and split dough with eight bros
With three kids and bills, tough to pay those
They know, still flake on rehearsal,
We rip shows, then fake like it’s hopeful
Fans just don’t know

DX: When you play those lines back, what do you think are some things that fans should know, or things you would like fans to know?

Luckyiam: Everything I wanted them to know was said in the song. They have favorites and I have to accept that. I’m from a very talented crew where some guys are more popular than others. For instance, there are Grouch, Murs and Eligh fans that will never listen to me solo unless it’s on a Living Legends track or a song that features those guys because some fans are programmed like that.

DX: What did you mean by “fake like it’s hopeful?”

Luckyiam: On stage is the only time the entire Living Legends crew ever gets together. It looks fun and promising but there isn’t really a future in that type of continuous distance. That’s faking it for the crowd and fans.

DX: When you go through this type of experience, this journey that you’ve taken with the Living Legends, what is the most valuable thing that you take from it?
Luckyiam: You never miss it till it’s gone. Document everything and loyalty is grand and rare.
DX: Finally, what would you say has been your greatest life lesson, one you want to share with the world?

Luckyiam: The most important things in life are not “things.” Eat your veggies, kids and swag don’t equal skill. [Also,] get I Love Haters at LRG before it’s gone to iTunes. Shout outs to Machina Muerte & the Living Legends, yo.