By Grant Golden
July 6, 2020
Charlotte’s hip-hop heavyweight, Lute, has released his second new single of 2020 with the poignant and self-reflective track, “Life.” Dedicated to the lives lost in the recent tragedy on Beatties Ford Road in Charlotte, as well as Lute’s own cousin, Marcus Okoye Withers, “Life” helps to bring clarity and camaraderie to what has proven to be a tumultuous year. Lute’s powerful lyrics effortlessly glide atop a hypnotic beat produced by Dom, while the simplistic phrasings of the song’s hook is a mantra of perseverance in times of struggle.
Released on the rapper’s birthday, “Life” shows Lute using his own self-exploration as a way to push himself forward both professionally and personally. Throughout the track, Lute proclaims his own humility while also professing that “the only person that I’m up against is me,” towing the line between knowing your own greatness while perpetually striving to do better. But such ambition comes with its own pitfalls, we hear Lute rapping about crying alongside his daughter after she tells him she misses him, worrying his mother knows how overwhelmed he is because she’s listening to his lyrics.
“Sometimes life gets crazy,” Lute sings on the hook, with accompanying harmonies from Tiera Beverly, “Some days I don’t know up from down / Life gets so crazy, but I can’t turn my back right now.” The song is a sparse outing, built around a simple sample that’s repeated throughout the duration, melded with a lilting string arrangement that flourishes from percussive flares. Throughout the track we see Lute doing a lot with a little, showing that brevity and boldness are powerful punctuations.
Lute displays a vulnerability through his lyrics that are then paralleled through the timely visuals of the Alexander Hall directed video. The video serves as a collage of sorts, interspersing shots of Lute with clips of him playing with his daughter, close-ups on people taking off their Covid masks, and footage from recent protests across Charlotte. Through his lyrics and visual accompaniment, Lute blends the personal with the political, helping to bring into perspective the singularity of these national moments with an anthem for the headstrong, and a pleasant reminder to stop, reflect, and breathe.
Amid the self-reflection, peppered into the track, we hear Lute state, “if it’s me against myself, who really my opponent?” a line that simultaneously outlines his own vulnerability and self-doubt, while proclaiming his place atop the proverbial mountain. While “Life” beckons the listener to slow down and push forward in dire times, it’s also a reminder that so long as we’re looking forward, we’ll see Lute steadily rise.
Watch the music video for “Life” by Lute via Dreamville/Interscope Records.