Carolina Champions: How Lute Linked With J. Cole for WEST [1996] Part 2

Luther Nicholson (Lute) found his way onto playlists of wholehearted 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 result, “Lil Ace” became “Lute” which led to a more organic and genuine following. With a new moniker and a fresh outlook, music began to come naturally for this Carolina native.

Hip Hop Early

Lute picked up a microphone in eighth grade when he formed the group, Teen Starz with confidant, Jimmy Kelso. At the age of seven, Lute’s older brothers left him with an entire “treasure-trove” of hip-hop classics, which Lute took full advantage of. Hip-hop formed a significant bond that deeply connected him intricately to each member of his family.

In 2008, Lute’s sound invaded speaker systems throughout his community and beyond. The vehicle by which Lute planned to mobilize was called, “Road to Southwest Boulevard.” This project did not amass major musical traction, thus Lute returned to the drawing board.


Drawing from golden-era influences, nostalgia and nineties soul rhythm, Lute bounced back in a major way. In 2012, “West 1996” materialized with glossy production, sleek delivery and well-polished bars. The spiritual manner by which Lute awarely graces the microphone is reminiscent of Joey Bada$$. The two have been paired in comparison due to their 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 Lute’s mixtape through social media channels. Creative Loafing Charlotte featured Lute and his Forever FC collective on their magazine cover.

There was much adieu for the reception of, “West 1996” and the artwork drew an immediate parallel to Nas’ classic, “Illmatic.” There wasn’t predetermined listener admiration that arrived as a result of this debut project. Lute simply detailed his perspectives while coasting over soulful energies to participate and contend with the type of music that he loves.

Time to Resign?

To no avail, magazine articles and social media hype failed to accumulate surmountable funds for Lute. Faced with the dilemma of raising a newborn daughter, Lute decided that his next body of music would be his last. Since this industry lacks stability, Lute shifted his concentration toward immediate funds for his family.

Ultimately, Lute’s daughter deserves the utmost credit for driving her father to elevate and orchestrate a potent quality of musical output. For her benefit and best interests, Lute honed his craft and demonstrated smooth delivery and an enthralling surge of lyricism.

The morning prior to the release date for, “West 1996 Part 2” Lute fielded an last-minute phone call from Fayetteville, Carolina legend J. Cole. Cole urged Lute to delay his “last” album in exchange for the perks of becoming a Dreamville artist. 

Dream Come TRUE

Upon signing to Dreamville Records, Lute escalated his following. Tangibly, Lute lives in the form of documentaries, live performances and featured records. Dreamville announced their partnership with Lute on the day “Revenge of the Dreamers 2 (2015)” released.

“West 1996 Part 2” became grew roots to on or around September 29th. Since that important 2 A.M. conversation with J.Cole, Part 2 has experienced a multitude of adjustments. Lute modified structural elements, exchanged instrumentals and revised refrains to augment and advance the album.

The two singles for “West 1996 Part 2” are “Juggin” and “Premonition.” Keep your eye trained for the impending boost of Lute’s preeminent presence.

WRT: Ian

Wordsmith: Ian Romaker

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