After spending the last few years carving out his name into the landscape of hip-hop, Dreamville’s underdog finally releases his highly anticipated debut project.
Lute is the next up-and-comer hailing from the state of North Carolina, home to acts such as Little Brother & J. Cole. Coincidentally enough, Lute is signed to J. Cole’s Dreamville Records and is managed by Rapper Big Pooh, whom is 1/2 of the hip-hop supergroup, Little Brother. Having the torch being directly passed down, Gold Mouf carries on the tradition of the region’s soulful boom-bap sound, while segmenting Lute as an artist from the rest of his peers.
Despite Gold Mouf being his official debut album, Lute displays a perfect balance of passionate emceeing and intimate songwriting that goes beyond the realm of hip-hop, placing him various steps ahead of his class.
The North Carolina MC’s breakthrough project undertakes a reasonable runtime of 13 tracks wrapped up in 43 minutes. From beginning to end, Gold Mouf flows smoothly like water: retaining a consistent atmosphere sonically and fluidly transitioning into each track. Right off the bat, the first track, “100”, exhibits Lute’s passionate energy with the opening lines (“Don’t really care bout no numbers / Slept on the couch for three summers”) and continues to show listeners that overnight success wasn’t the deal for Lute in the track’s first verse: “Times change, people change / You don’t go through the pain for nothin’ / It’s yours for the takin’, so don’t get complacent”.
From here, Lute sets forth to flash his spirited lyricism, which is transparent throughout the entire project. Hailing from a state with only a handful of successful hip-hop acts, Lute doubles down on his lyrical ability, attempting to bring attention not only to himself but to his region as well. The album’s lead single, “GED (Gettin’ Every Dollar),” is a perfect example of this as the emcee raps: “Tired of hearing ‘I can’t wait till you blow’ / Had to step out of my shell for a bit / Cuzzo told me put my foot on they throat”. Lute also delivers a handful of sentimental tracks, displaying his diverse pen on tracks such as “Ghetto Love” and “Eye to Eye”, which show him in a more vulnerable space.
Though his lyricism prevails in every track, the Dreamville emcee includes a wide variety of features from close friends. Fellow Dreamville signees all tap in to dispatch their own contributions, with Cozz spitting a melodically intimate verse on the ambient “Eye to Eye”, and Ari Lennox providing vocals on the enchanting “Ghetto Love.” Lute also receives some hometown love from supergroup Little Brother, who appear on the track “Amen” and helped executive produce the album.
In accord with Lute’s passionate lyricism was the album’s exquisite production which provided a sonically soothing template for the North Carolina MC to utilize. The tranquil nature of the soulfully boom bap production helps Lute delve into various spaces, whether he was stunting his lyrical ability or taking a more personal approach to the record. While tracks such as “Birdsong” & “Eye to Eye” have a more intimate atmosphere, Lute also comes through with records like “Flossin” & “Changes,” which are more uplifting. The production creates a moody atmosphere, which perfectly suits Lute’s hard-edged and hotheaded delivery.
For a hip-hop artist’s debut album, Gold Mouf does more than trying to capture the attention of listeners. It establishes Lute’s name in the game and shows all sides to the personality of the North Carolina emcee. It’s unusual for a rapper to open up this early in their career, but despite this being a debut, Lute still has some accolades under his belt, such as being a Grammy-nominated artist. It is one that perfectly displays self-awareness and originality in the music, while also carrying on tradition.
When you hear the Dreamville signee rap intimate quotes such as, “Im not an introvert, I really just don’t fuck with n****s / So to myself nowadays, it’s really hard to read intentions”, or “Some days I can’t explain what I’m feeling / I need space, some days I need healing”, the intention of the artist becomes clear. Being that Lute has spent years trying to perfect his first official project to the world, his ambitions become more transparent, which is the main appeal to the album. Gold Mouf succeeds in all aspects because it represents an artist who is already aware of everything he is and everything he wants.
While it didn’t get the best promotion due to the downtime of all socials upon its release, Gold Mouf is a phenomenal debut project that shines on its own when discussing yearly releases. Often times, artists get drawn into the image they portray, which doesn’t represent them at all, but this album shows that Lute is an authentic artist. And while these artists don’t always receive the initial boost, they always end up winning in the long run.
8.5 / 10
Best tracks: “GED (Gettin Every Dollar)”, “Myself”, “Eye to Eye”, “Be Okay”, “Amen”, “Ghetto Love”