Luther Nicholson (Lute) firmly situated himself in the collections of avid hip-hop listeners back in 2012 with his mixtape, “West 1996.” For a while, he struggled with identity and lacked the ability to garner recognition. As a byproduct of shifting from a prior alias, “Lil Ace” to “Lute,” he generated a genuine following. With a new moniker and a fresh outlook, music began to come naturally for this North Carolina native.
At the age of seven, Lute’s older brothers left him with an entire “treasure-trove” of hip-hop classics, which he eventually took advantage of. Lute picked up a microphone in eighth grade as one half of Teen Starz, a group formed with Jimmy Kelso. Hip-hop connected Lute to those who surrounded him.
In 2008, Lute planned to invade the soundscapes of his local area and beyond. The vehicle by which Lute planned to mobilize was called, “Road to Southwest Boulevard.” This project did not amount to musical fruition, thus he retreated to the drawing board.
Lute breaks through with “West 1996”
Drawing from Golden Era influences, nostalgia and 1990’s rhythm, Lute bounced back in a major way. In 2012, “West 1996” surfaced and showcased glossy production, slick delivery and a well-polished flow. The intellectual manner by which he graces the microphone is reminiscent of Joey Bada$$. Each one utilizes nineties influences and inherently gifted sessions of lyricism.
Shortly thereafter, anticipated acclaim and recognition began to swarm Lute. Reputable sources like Complex and 2 Dope Boyz raved about, “West 1996.” The Source and The Fader accompanied the list of prestigious hip-hop outlets that funneled the mixtape through social media channels. Creative Loafing Charlotte featured Lute and his Forever FC collective on their magazine cover.
Creating a classic
There was much ado for “West 1996” and the artwork drew an immediate parallel to Nas’ classic, “Illmatic.” Lute intricately detailed his perspectives while coasting over hip-hop melodies and relaying the type of music that he loves.
To no avail, magazine articles and social media posts failed to generate financial reward. Additionally, to support his newborn daughter, he declared resignation following the release of his next album. Since the music industry lacked stability, Lute began to shift his concentration toward providing for his family.
Ultimately, his daughter deserves the utmost credit for driving her father to strive toward a stronger quality of musical output. For their benefit and best interests, Lute honed his craft and demonstrates smooth delivery and flow that captivates listeners.
One timely phone call
The morning prior to the release date for “West 1996 Part 2,” Lute received a call from J. Cole. Cole kindly asked if he would place his “last” album on the back burner in exchange for collaboration, revision and rebranding. The call from J. Cole indicated an entirely different trajectory than the one Lute had imagined.
After signing to Dreamville Records, Lute has popped up in documentaries, live performances and featured records. Dreamville announced their partnership with him simultaneously with the release of “Revenge of the Dreamers 2.”
“West 1996 Part 2” will be available to stream on Sept. 29th. Since that important 2 a.m. conversation with J.Cole, Part 2 has undergone a multitude of adjustments. Lute tweaked structural elements, swapped out instrumentals and revised refrains to improve and rejuvenate this project.
So far, the two singles for “West 1996 Part 2” are called “Juggin’” and “Premonition.” Keep your eye trained for the impending boost of Lute’s prominent presence with his newest mixtape.
“MY MOM WAS ALWAYS THE ONE ALWAYS TELLING ME TO WATCH MY CIRCLE, DON’T GET INVOLVED WITH THE WRONG CROWD, AND DO THINGS THE RIGHT WAY. MEANWHILE MY DAD WAS LIKE, FORGET THAT, YOU GOTTA GET OUT THERE TO FIGURE OUT HOW LIFE WORKS. I’VE ALWAYS JUST TRIED TO FIND THAT BALANCE.” (THE 360 MAG)