Old school, new school, need to learn though
By Cameron Lee
August 23, 2016
If I told you that North Carolina’s rap scene is on fire right now would you believe me? North Carolina has never been known as a heavyweight hip-hop state, but over the last few years, it’s been bubbling with hot new talent. While the commercial masses may refer to Petey Pablo when thinking about North Carolina hip-hop and rap success, we’ve come a long way since the NC anthem hit the radio waves and exhausted the Carolinas in the 2000s. We’ve been long over waving things like a helicopter– it’s more like jets now, with straight fire spouting from the mouths of some of the hottest rappers in the game.
It’s hard to think about North Carolina hip-hop and rap music, without considering Little Brother, an iconic Southern rap group from Durham led by Phonte (The Foreign Exchange), Rapper Big Pooh and super producer, 9th Wonder who has worked with legendary artists like Jay-Z, Mary J. Blige, Erykah Badu, Kendrick Lamar and many more. The group was also a part of a larger rap collective called the Justus League. Little Brother ultimately parted ways in 2010 but all have been active in the music industry, especially 9th Wonder and his protege, NC native, Rapsody who’s taken the rap world by storm. She was originally in Kooley High, and was recently signed to Jay-Z’s Roc Nation. If that’s not enough, don’t forget about Raleigh’s King Mez, who’s been buzzing for a minute now, recently featured on Dr. Dre’s latest album, Compton.
Need more? Back in December, Charlotte’s very own Lute was signed to music industry titan J. Cole’s label, Dreamville Records. Charlotte native and filmmaker, Scott Lazer also directed the HBO documentary series, Homecoming, which followed the process of Cole’s third studio album, 2014 Forest Hills Drive (if you need another local connection). In addition, one of the few artists in Charlotte to receive a great deal of national press in recent years, Deniro Farrar, just dropped another stellar EP called Mind of a Gemini. Well$, yet another Queen City up-and-comer has received a lot of love from all over the Carolinas, having recently collaborated with nationally recognized North Carolina indie pop duo, Sylvan Esso (Durham) on “Young Man” released this month. Well$ and Farrar also recently joined forces on a track called “98 Juvie” and you might recognize some Charlotte landmarks in the video. If that’s not enough, another Queen City rapper, Elevator Jay, released two very impressive EPs in a little over a year, Sum’na Say which dropped in June of 2015 and most recently, Slurred in Mecklenburg.
So who’s next? In the summer of 2014, I caught wind of a rapper named Lotta from another standout Charlotte artist, Rapper Shane, on his 2014 album, Graves. Lotta was featured on a track called “All in Together Now.” After some silence and not hearing much from Lotta in 2015, I caught him spitting some freestyles at an event called Dre Day earlier this year, celebrating the birthday of Dr. Dre at Snug Harbor. It’s a yearly party put on by Permanent Vacation, an art, music and culture collective based in Charlotte, co-founded by Rapper Shane.
There were a couple of verses that caught my attention: “We don’t need a deal, we go straight to consumers, it’s crazy how these younger ni**as livin’ through computers. They payin for persona, I see how these ni**as movin’, it’s old school baby, I’m the teacher and the student.” This type of verbal barrage went on for several minutes, maybe some rehearsed lyrics, maybe pieces from some old songs and bars from new ones. Regardless, I was a little dumbfounded. Not a reaction I’m used to when listening to a new rapper perform live these days. The cadence was convincing, the voice was strong and the message was very clear. These are honest raps, from a battle-tested individual with solid delivery. It took a few months, but Lotta recently resurfaced with a new name– his original name– Erick Lottary. He released two songs “The Sheep” and “CTRL + ALT + DEL” from the forthcoming EP, Hold Please via 2DopeBoyz, a national online hip-hop publication receiving some much deserved hype.
This week he released the video for “The Sheep” which was shot in Red Hook, Brooklyn. We caught up with Erick “Lotta” Lottary.
CLTure: Where are you originally from?
Erick Lottary: Fayetteville, N.C. Westside to be exact.
CLTure: How long have you been living and performing in Charlotte?
Erick Lottary: I’ve lived in Charlotte since 2008. I went to college in Atlanta, and my brother talked me into moving here for music opportunities. Took me a while to get my feet wet, as far as performing, but I’d say I stepped on the scene in 2010. Started getting shows around the city, met a few people. The rest is history.
CLTure: You recently changed your name from Lotta to Erick Lottary. Any particular reason why?
Erick Lottary: Well, I’ve been going by Lotta for quite some time now, but it was always short for Lottary. Unfortunately, when I began to go by Lotta, I realized after a while that it wasn’t very searchable on the internet. The only way people could find me was by searching Lotta 910. So I decided (since I took some time release music again) I would change it to my government first name and keep the Lottary this time around. Hopefully everybody will continue to support in the same way. As of now, everyone has been accepting, and I’m grateful that there wasn’t a disconnect. It will definitely be my final name change. I’ve always said, you can’t be who you want to become by staying who you are.
Erick Lottary: HomeSkool is a collective that a very close friend of mine named Kris Kasanova started in NY. Me and Kris have worked together a lot throughout the years. We have always had a mutual respect and held each other to very high standards. We both went through a time of doubt about where we were heading. We realized that everything we got and everything we worked for, we pretty much got by ourselves. No one taught us the things we learned. We learned on our own. That’s what HomeSkool is. We have made it a collective of musicians, artists, DJs, videographers, and much more. It all started with Kris. When we put our heads together, it always becomes something bigger than we originally think.
As far as Permanent Vacation, man… All I can say is these guys are probably the best to do it in Charlotte. That goes for music, nightlife, art, shows, and everything in between. Me and Shane (Co-Founder of PVDFF and rap artist) met years ago. He had some of the most positive energy about him. Just an all around genuine dude. He told me he thought I was super dope. After hearing and seeing his movement I felt the same. He’s done a lot for my career as far as booking me for shows, making me a part of his family and letting me rep the brand, and they always showing love to what I have going on. Really Homeskool is my city brothers and PV are my country brothers. I’m good in both areas.
CLTure: You’ve recently released three songs from your forthcoming E.P, Hold Please. When can we expect it to drop?
Erick Lottary: Hold Please will be out in September. Won’t give an exact date because it’s a surprise EP. I only plan to drop it to get people back on my wavelength for the next project. Which will follow shortly after…
CLTure: What are your thoughts on the North Carolina rap and hip-hop scene right now?
Erick Lottary: I feel like we are ready. So much talent. I feel like the forefront of artists are finally bringing the eyes to us and once they are open it will be an epidemic of NC artists. When everyone realizes that we are a lot more than what they want us to be, we will be the ones to catch up with.
CLTure: The video for “The Sheep” was shot in Red Hook, Brooklyn. Any particular reason why?
Erick Lottary: Well, honestly, we shot this video on a whim. I knew I wanted one shot in New York. We figured this one out at the last minute but it kinda made sense. The beat gives you the NY feeling for obvious reasons (Jay-Z’s “P.S.A” sample originally from The Little Boy Blues “Seeds of Love” produced by Just Blaze). Most of the members of Homeskool grew up in Red Hook, Brooklyn, besides me and maybe three others. We just wanted it to have a New York feel, and I think we achieved that. As bad as Red Hook may seem, it’s almost a second home now.
CLTure: What originally inspired the lyrics for “The Sheep”?
Erick Lottary: I sit around and watch. I listen. I critique. I wrote it just thinking about how amazing artists get looked over for mediocre raps and trap beats. I mean, it’s hard to believe artists of this generation. So I wanted to write a song that was believable and honest. Even if it came off harsh or disrespectful to certain people. I realized that it doesn’t matter how much people want to turn up, they still respect the art of putting words together if you do it right.
CLTure: What can we expect from you musically and professionally in 2016 and 2017?
Erick Lottary: New music, new visuals, new merch from both HomeSkool and PV. Definitely some more bodies of work. We will be at a few festivals coming up. And also look out for some of my directorial work under the “ShotXLott” name.
New video released this week for the “The Sheep” by Erick Lottary