Dreamville rapper Lute is a paragon of emotional transparency in and out of his music. After personal loss sent him into a depressive spell, his recent Dreamville Festival performance was a sign of how he can channel anxiety to power his show.
“My anxiety is at a 10; at the same time, if I wasn’t nervous and anxious, it probably won’t go well. I know I’m anxious and nervous, but I know the reason is that I’m worried about doing my best,” Lute told REVOLT.
In this installment of “Tour Tales,” the Gold Mouf MC explained how his Dreamville Festival performance helped him feel like himself again, how one of J. Cole’s decisions led to him being booed at a show, and more. Read the exclusive conversation below.
How would you describe your 2023 Dreamville Festival performance?
Man, I’m still trying to process the Dreamville performance. They chanted my name after my set. That was my first chant. It was a moment where I just sat in the chant. I had to be present a little bit. That was my first chant. I used to watch Bas and J. Cole’s sets when they’d be chanting their names at the end. I’m two hours from Charlotte, so Dreamville Festival is in my hometown’s backyard. So, to be up there and see how everything went today was special. I had a car show yesterday, which was successful and had a good turnout.
Onstage, you mentioned your anxiety and depression following your father’s passing. What made you want to share that?
In the past couple of years, my social media presence has been dwindling a little bit. I used to be the type of person that would be on social media a lot, interacting with people and engaging with my fans. I haven’t been able to do that lately because of my anxiety. I had gone through a little depression in the past year and a half. I just wanted to let people know, “I see you, and I hear you despite my absence.” I’m trying to do the best I can to get back to the space I was in before. I just wanted to let them know I appreciate them and also let them know what I’ve been dealing with and going through at the same time.
These are always big performances for the Dreamville family. How did you structure your set?
I put my set together last week. I had a car show yesterday, so I was also trying to get my car together at the same time. But I couldn’t get my car out to Raleigh this year. I had a lot of stuff going on, so I only had a couple of days to rehearse my set. It turned out phenomenal for me.
Were you anxious before you got onstage?
Hell yeah. My boy has this lavender stuff that you put on your wrist. I put that on. I did my little breathing exercises, and I said a prayer. My friends know I need my space where I get about two minutes to take everything in and be grounded in the present. I take at least two minutes before the set time to be by myself, and then go out there and do my thing. My anxiety is at a 10; at the same time, if I wasn’t nervous and anxious, it probably won’t go well. I know I’m anxious and nervous, but I know the reason is that I’m worried about doing my best. I’d be even more nervous if I didn’t have those thoughts.
So your anxiety helped make your Dreamville Festival performance great?
Yeah. My anxiety is me at the end of the day.
How have you evolved as a performer since joining Dreamville?
I’m still evolving. I’m still trying to figure out what works for me. I’m still trying to figure out what feels comfortable to me. This year, I realized I wanted to step up my performance. I realized I’m evolving in my music, but I want to also evolve as a performer. I watch certain things where I’m like, “Yo, I love this person’s music.” But when you see them live, it’s different. I’m still learning and evolving in that.
What was your first tour? What did you learn?
My first tour was the “4 Your Eyez Only Tour.” I learned a lot from that tour. This one time, at the last minute, Cole ended up switching the venue because it went over capacity. I remember fans being really tight about that because some people have probably been out there for a couple of days, and then the venue switches at the last minute. I was an opener. I went out there thinking, “They’re about to boo the s**t out of me.” They booed the s**t out of me, but I kept going (laughs). Towards the end, they were like, “Yo, I f**k with this guy.”
How has J. Cole helped your live performance development?
Before the “4 Your Eyez Only Tour,” Cole actually brought me out. He called me and said, “What are you up to?” I told him I had just got fired. He told me, “I’m going on tour. I want you to see how everything works backstage. I want you to see how everything works.” I went on that tour, which changed my perspective because I had no idea how touring worked. I met Bas for the first time backstage when I did that. That introduced me to all the Dreamville fam.
What has been your favorite show so far?
In Houston for “The Never Had S**t Tour” [with EarthGang and J.I.D.]. That was my favorite show ever, bro. That was my first show where I felt like an artist because of how the crowd reacted. That was my first show I felt like I’m actually doing this. Before then, everything would be surreal. That was the moment where I had to actually be present in it.
What are your tour hits?
One of them is definitely “Juggin’.” But, I would also say my song “Queen City Slummin’.”
What do you have coming for the rest of 2023?
I’m just now getting myself back into the mode of working and producing things since my dad died and my grandma passed. I’m just now getting out of those depressive stages I was in. I’m just now coming back to myself. That’s why I said what I said at the end of my set. You are all going to see more of me soon, for sure.