Review Summary: "Praise the RZA"
Lute claims that, as a child who grew up during the 90's in Charlotte, he was exposed to genres such as blues, jazz, and rock. Sure, he also claims some of his biggest influences as Common, Nas, and even the RZA, but blues and jazz seem to be held very close to his heart. Lute, philosophically speaking, actually seems to be stuck in the past entirely. This would explain why he named his album ”West1996”
, commemorating the moment he listened to his first hip hop album. His style and flow harken back to the 90's, arguably the golden era of the genre. Lute certainly believes this, and his work makes it unmistakeably evident.
He also believes in breaking the barrier that North Carolina has something to contribute to the rap game. He establishes this by having an assortment of guest emcees, so local their names even elude Google, spit lines “ignitin' like my blunt lit, spittin' like a full clip”. On the track "West Nine 6”
, Lute nonchalantly confirms that we are hearing correctly by stating “my whole team is the illest, infectious with the flow so you gonna need some penicillin”. He brings it back home on the track "Carolina Folks”
with a subtle stab at the Petey Pablo song ”Raise Up”
, telling North Carolina to “keep your shirts on”.
Wit is not in short supply on ”West1996”
, but neither is style. The jazz inspired sampling blends flawlessly with the lyrical delivery. Lute's flow floats effortlessly atop the gritty samples as he depicts his struggle to make it. In fact, jazz sampled albums, such as ”Illmatic”
, clearly inspired much of this one. It is this same fact that holds the album back though, or at least somewhat. There are no tracks as memorable as “NY State of Mind”
but when it comes down to it, that is hardly a complaint. ”West1996”
is so smooth, so fluid of a listening experience that it ends before you realize it. Ultimately that is the biggest complaint, that we only get a little over 30 minutes of material.
Lute, who also happens to be influenced by the artist Big KRIT, points out that “Music is music long as it comes from the heart. No one can tell you that it's not a song if you can paint a picture of your struggle, your happiness, whatever it may be, as long as it's true to you and some one out there can relate, then it's music.” and he has a point. It may seem humble of him to make that point but make no mistake, he has big plans. Lute's presence on ”West1996”
demands your attention, as if the throne of hip hop was his for taking. This is an incredibly solid debut for the young Carolinian, and right now it seems as if the sky is the limit. “Praise the RZA” because Lute has risen.