As one of the premier record labels, J. Cole‘s Dreamville Records is both gifted and cursed with one of the deepest rosters in rap. On one hand, because there are so many artists signed to the label — an embarrassment of riches, so to speak — it can be easy to overlook the less flamboyant personalities that comprise Dreamville’s bench rotation. However, that gives the label’s lesser-known artists the chance to grow and develop at their own pace — and when they’re ready to, surprise fans with their creativity and polish.
One of the more pleasant surprises from Dreamville of late has been Cole’s fellow North Carolinian Lute, who has taken advantage of the opportunity provided by the original Dreamer and the rising tide of Carolina’s prominence to grow his fan base and position himself to be the Tar Heel State’s next rising star. On the heels of Charlotte’s DaBaby, Snow HIll’s Rapsody, and his Fayettesville-raised benefactor, Charlotte native Lute distinguished himself last year rapping alongside DaBaby and Cole on the Revenge Of The Dreamers III intro “Under The Sun.”
Now, Lute’s capitalizing on that notable buzz with his fantastical video for “GED (Gettin’ Every Dollar)” and its accompanying web series, Gold Mouth Chronicles, giving his newfound fans a window into his world with a knowing sense of humor and classic Southern charm. Taking inspiration from surprising sources — including the art of Keith Haring, Bob Ross’ The Joy Of Painting, and Wu-Tang Clan’s Ol’ Dirty Bastard — Lute shows off glimpses of winning, multifaceted personality.
With the latest episode of Gold Mouth Chronicles premiering today, Lute graciously broke down the two previous episodes, his satirical approach for the “GED” video, and how he feels about one of North Carolina’s most famous residents.
First of all, how have you been during quarantine?
I’ve probably been a little better, but I’ve been man, I’m just trying to finish out working on this album and just trying to tap into myself. I got to like correct or whatever. I got a little routine in the morning that I write in my journal, I do my skincare, work out. I’ve been big on that and I watched a show called Outer Banks, that shit was pretty straight. I haven’t done a lot of that because I’ve been trying to write and get some music shit done. I’ve been watching Michael Jordan shit [ESPN’s The Last Dance] and something else I was watching.
Oh yeah, that Michael Jordan documentary is great. Loving that. Were you a big Jordan fan growing up?
I was, but not a Chicago Bulls fan. I was definitely a Jordan fan at the time.
How about him buying the Charlotte Bobcats/Hornets? Did that change your opinion of him at all because he did a bad job?
I agree. He did a bad job. It’s bittersweet because it’s like he got the team back, but it’s like he could probably be doing a little better, but I don’t hate him for it.
Gold Mouth Chronicles is a crazy way to promote a single.
Yeah, it started off with “GED” but the Gold Mouth Chronicles is basically me giving everybody a window into who I am and what I do outside of music. It’s funny and then sometimes some of it’s very informative but it’s just to give you my personality. I have anxiety, so I’m very much introverted. I don’t really express myself a lot around people or I don’t really show people my inside world. So, Gold Mouth Chronicles was a way to get people to see me open up a little more.
You styled the first episode after Bob Ross’ Joy Of Painting and your painting was actually inspired by Keith Haring. So are you a big art guy?
How and when did you get interested in art and in Keith Haring’s work?
I actually got into art way before I got into music. I found music a little later.
It started in kindergarten. I had an English and art teacher and she used to make us read these little books and she would make us draw what we did on the weekend or she would make us draw what we were feeling or thinking. So that’s how I got into art. She would also incorporate famous artists and she would dive into Keith Haring, Van Gogh, Leonardo da Vinci. She would just plug in little things like that and inform us of other artists.
What is it about Haring’s art that speaks to you so much?
Just the fact that he did a lot and expressed a lot with the simplest shit. He did, like, caveman paintings but was able to express love and all kinds of other shit — just through cave art. There’s no definition. It’s not 3-D, it’s one-dimensional or 2-D. He was just able to express a lot.
The “Wish Sandwich” episode blew my mind because I’m watching you make this sandwich and I’m like, “Is he about to put Doritos in this sandwich?”
That comes from being broke. That’s the whole purpose of the Wish Sandwich is you don’t have none of the ingredients. To be real with you, a wish sandwich don’t even have meat. It’s really just bread and butter and whatever seasoning you got.
That’s what I was expecting to see.
The premise of the episode was very much real… we really didn’t have shit. We didn’t have bread, we didn’t have… So we were like, “What the fuck can we come up with?” Then we just made an episode out of it. So I just find the shit that was in the crib.
An interesting thing that has grown out of your exposure on Revenge Of The Dreamers III is that the video for “GED” has as many views as some of your older videos from over two years ago. It looks like you’ve increased your fan base a whole lot. Have you noticed a difference in West 1996 Pt. 2 Lute versus “Getting Every Dollar” Lute?
Oh yeah. There’s a super big difference. West 1996 Lute, it was a slow process. But with “GED” Lute, it’s like people are finally getting to see the real. Not necessarily saying that the 1996 Lute wasn’t the real me, but “GED” Lute is more polished.
It’s funny that you said you don’t show your personality because your personality comes out so much to me in “GED.”
Because I’ve shot so many of these episodes and now I’m starting to get more familiar with myself. As I said, I’m just trying to tap more into myself and see what more I need to work on and what more that I need to do. So now I’m a little more comfortable with doing certain things and showing people my personality on social media. Before it was super hard to do that.
I grew up watching ODB and seeing him wild out and watching his interviews and shit like that so ODB is in my top five. That’s like my spirit animal. So I feel like a little bit of him comes out of my personality as well.
The idea was: If Gold Mouth is a character, then Gold Mouth is to me as Buddy Love is to Professor Klump. Gold Mouth is like my alter ego when my anxiety steps in. Not over the top, but when I need to be able to work a room or whatever the case may be, that’s where Gold Mouth comes from.
Check out Lute’s Gold Mouth Chronicles on his YouTube channel.