Timothy Love, aka Lukah Luciano, has been an integral part of the local rap scene for years now, performing all over town and opening for the likes of Playa Fly, Raekwon and Three 6 Mafia. With a new album arriving later this month, Luciano could be on the verge of making the next step in a career that's already seen him drop five albums. We sat down with him to find out more about his new album Bad Guy x Goodfella, what it's like to try to break into the local rap scene, and his obsession with mafia movies.
Flyer: When did you first get involved in the local rap scene?
Lukah Luciano: I've been doing this since I was about 16 years old. Jason Da Hater kind of pushed me to get out there. I was on the show IMC with him, and I was one of the only younger cats that was on. Jason Da Hater helped me out a lot in the beginning, and he's still helping now.
When did you make the switch from Royal T to Lucha Luciano?
I went by Royal T the Top MC, because I was more of a battle [rap] type of guy when I first started, and I wanted a name that made me the top guy. Later I was doing research so I could go ahead and make the name final, and there were a million Royal Ts out there, spelled the same exact way. Some of them were even more established than me, so I changed the name. I like mafia movies so I changed it to Lukah Luciano. Luciano is a real guy, and Lukah is from Luca Brasi from the Godfather. Luca was kind of a big guy like I am, and Luciano was a boss, so I just decided to put them both together.
Beyond the wise-guy name that you've adopted, there's also a lot of mafia and organized crime references on the latest album. Why is that such a big part of your music?
Growing up in the family that I grew up in, you had to watch Godfather, Goodfellas, and all the other famous crime movies. It kind of stuck with me. I liked the way they wore the suits and handled business. I started watching all those movies when I was 9, but as I got older I started going back to the black and white ones. The snippets on the album are from older black and white mafia movies. I think we sampled three old movies on the album.
Tell me more about your previous albums compared to this latest one you are dropping at the end of the month.
This is actually my sixth album, but I consider this one to be the ONE. This is the first one I want to put my stamp on and actually push. I linked up with a producer named Little A, and he produced the majority of the album. He had the sound that I wanted, the old Memphis sound. He's a Memphis guy, but he recently moved to California to pursue the music industry. So now I've got connections in Memphis, in California, and in New York with Cities Aviv. We've got all the regions covered.
Cities Aviv has always been a fan of yours, and he's actually the one who sent me the album. What's your connection with him?
I met him at the Smoking Caterpillar, but we didn't really get to hang out because he was going to Mexico. So when he came back we hung out, and I liked what he stood for. He had skills but he was also a really free guy with his music. I think our love for hip hop and our drive to get our music out there is what made us work together. I was on all his early recordings and he was on mine. He was on my release shows and I was on his. The last show we did was last year at the new Hi-Tone.
Are you looking to shop Bad Guy Good Fella or are you going to self-release it?
Right now it looks like I'm going to self-release it. We are looking for a label to pick it up, but if not I will self-release it. If I do release it myself, I'm going to go full throttle with it and really push it and put my name behind it more so than I did with my other five albums.
How easy is it to get recognition in the local rap scene? Is there an infrastructure set up to get your music out there?
I feel like in Memphis you have to either know someone or be in the right place at the right time. It's not as easy as it was in the '90s where if you had skills, people would work with you just like that. Now, you don't even have to have skills, if you know someone, boom, you're on the radio.
What kind of studio do you work in?
I work at Section 9 Studios with DJ M3. It's a house in the back of a house, it's real home-like but also real professional. It's located off Summer Avenue, sort of by Poplar Plaza.
Let's talk more about your producer Little A.
His full name is Little A on the Track, and the two of us pretty much put the whole idea for the new album together. He's just a regular guy like me; he comes from the same background. Just like me and Cities Aviv connected over the hunger, drive, and love for music, we hit it off the same way. He was basically just looking for someone who could rap, actually rap, and I was looking for someone to start a new sound with. My fifth album was called Made Man, and he produced the whole album. That was our first time working together, but now he's become my home producer. He's the one I'm rolling with.
Do you have a release date in mind for the album yet?
Late August or early September. I'm still waiting to see if a label is going to put it out, but if nothing has happened by late August I'm going to go ahead and release it. We are still trying to get it out there and do some more publicity with music videos and stuff like that. I've already played a release show, but we pushed back the release date on the album because certain people were interested in releasing it. If I do another release show, I'll do it out of town. Memphis already knows the album is coming.