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“I’m just tryna feed my daughter, ni**a fuck a rap.” A line from Lute’s “Paychecks (Intro)”, the Charlotte, North Carolina native was ready to quit rap altogether. In fact, he had already decided West 1996 Pt.2 was going to be his last project ever. Until his phone rang, with J. Cole on the other line. From that moment on, his life would change forever. Read more…

Signing to Dreamville proved to be the e̶x̶a̶c̶t̶ only validation Lute needed to continue his rap career. This meant creating feel-good hip-hop the way it was always intended, with his lyrics being a mere reflection of real-life struggles. Through vivid storytelling and imagery Lute recounts his own hardships as a young African American struggling to make ends meet. While his experiences are his own, it’s through music that Lute subconsciously gives fans the motivation and drive needed to make something of themselves, no matter the situation.

For Lute, this came in the form of a DM on Twitter, as he was on the clock at Walmart. The funny part is, J. Cole had to reach out to Lute’s friend to get to him, as Lute was not following Cole at the time. We spoke with Lute ahead of his opening set at The Roxy in Los Angeles, while on tour with labelmates EarthGang and JID.

For those who don’t know, who is Lute?

Lute is… I guess you could say Lute is the voice of the people. Lute is the representation that struggle is real but not final.

What do you think about the current state of Hip Hop and where do you fit in it?

I believe the current state of Hip Hop is growing. I believe it’s in a good place. I know there’s a lot of music out there that people may not think is Hip Hop, but I think all music is music — to me, in my personal opinion. I feel like what I’m doing is needed. I feel like I got a good place in the game of Hip Hop, and music in general.

How important is it for artists to come to LA for their musical career?

Man, there’s so much out here. So many avenues, so many producers, so many record labels. I feel that it’s vital for artists to come out here. At least to experience it, if not come out here and stay for a while (or stay in general). You should at least come out and experience LA. I still have yet to do it, because I really need to — as far as production wise. But LA is where it’s at.

I’ve been bumping your project West 1996, Pt. 2. If you have one song for fans to hear your story, what would it be?

Either “Crabs in a Barrel” or “Morning Shift.” I say “Crabs in a Barrel” because I literally freestyled that. I had a couple drinks and I just needed to vent a little bit. So that was like, really genuine. Not saying that none of those songs aren’t genuine, but that was like literally from me taking a couple sips to me getting off what was on my chest — straight to the mic.

“Morning Shift” because that’s just my daily thoughts in the morning. Before I go to work or before I do anything. It’s what comes to my mind when I’m getting up in the morning.

What does Black History Month mean to you?

To be honest, it’s just another month to me. I feel like we all should be celebrated and we should all know our history every day, not just a month. February is just February to me.

How do you plan on using your platform to celebrate black love?

Oh shit. I mean, I plan to express it in all kind of ways. Being a black father, black lover, whatever.

What’s the best encounter you’ve had with a fan?

I signed a couple shoes. Some hats. Some shirts. People telling me their day to day life and how my music got them through certain situations and that’s the most impactful thing for me. I remember I had a guy tell me that one of my songs got him through Job Corps. I was like damn that was deep because some of those shifts got me through a lot of shit, like depression and stress and stuff like that. So to hear that my music got somebody through something, it makes me push and continue to make the music that I make.

Last question, who’s the most played artist on your phone?

Right now, I would probably have to say Joey Dosik. I think he’s from a band called VULFPECK, I’m not sure but man I love his music right now.

Dream collab?

That’s a hard one. There’s a lot of people I want to work with. I would like to work with Andre 3000. Anthony Hamilton. Anderson .Paak. Joey Dosik — that would be fire. There’s a lot of people out there.


Interview by Shirley Ju