Erick Lottary's new EP Hold Please was a buzzer beater of a release, dropping on the last day of 2016 and ending a two-year drought during which the Charlotte-based rapper hadn't even released a single.
Lottary's new-and-improved style has people drawing comparisons to another rapper from his hometown of Fayetteville, as his trap music style has morphed into something more reminiscent of J Cole after an adrenaline shot.
Creative Loafing sat down with Lottary in the waning days of 2016 to discuss what's he's been up to since that last release and what comes next.
Creative Loafing: What was your goal with Hold Please?
Erick Lottary: I haven't dropped nothing since 2014. I've been working on an album throughout that whole period of time. I was actually trying to get that album out and I had one of my good friends hit me up like, "Yo, you need to drop something before the album so that people can get in tune with what you've been doing for the last two years." I pretty much dropped this, and that's why I called it Hold Please. Just like any good business sometimes you've got to get put on hold in order to get good customer service. That's the premise for it.
What is the biggest difference people will notice about this EP as opposed to your last project in 2014?
My experiences. When I make music the only thing I worry about putting in is real life experiences or shit that I've been through or shit that I understand and know. You can tell that throughout those two years I went through a lot of shit. I had a second child. I was dealing with changing from a lifestyle that I used to live before I had kids, and it's a way different lifestyle now and you can hear it in the music.
Why the long wait between releases?
I would say doubt, really. A lot of shit had happened to me. I didn't have as much time to write. I didn't have as much time to record. Then I changed my lifestyle, so I didn't have the money to record. I didn't have the money to do all the things I wanted to do like I could before. I would say that was really the whole issue.
How do the two cultures differ between Charlotte, where you've lived since '08, and Fayetteville, where you were born and raised?
They differ as far as, Charlotte moves way faster than Fayetteville does. There's really not a big array of different artists in Fayetteville. Everybody is pretty much trap. You might find a gem here and there, just like J Cole was.
When you talk about "my city" in songs like "Where You At," do you mean Fayetteville?
I'm talking about Fayetteville. The whole "Where You At" record is pretty much based on Fayetteville and how it was when I stayed there. When I say my city I definitely mean Fayetteville.
Do you consider yourself a Charlottean now?
I always rep my city but I would definitely say that I'm very well groomed in the Charlotte culture.
Do you feel like that culture is strong?
It's huge. Charlotte should have been blew up, man. Charlotte should have had a light put on it. I feel like Charlotte isn't a place that supports its own music. And that's like all around. You got people that go to shows and sell out shows at The Fillmore for people that they've never met in their life, but you throw a show here with people that they grew up with and have known for years and they don't show up. They always got an excuse. I would feel like that's the only down part about Charlotte, but as far as the culture, it's budding. There's a whole bunch of artists here that are really good. Once the light is shined on it, there's going to be so many people that pop here that it's going to be an epidemic.
Do you see that happening in 2017?
I feel like there's potential for it to happen, but you know, the city has got to get behind something. The city actually has to respond, like "Yo, we're the shit. We got this shit right here so we're good on your state." Then other people will be like, "Yo, what's going on over there?" and actually want to hear the shit. At the end of the day, that's really all we need is big group of supporters to really push the artists.
How has the time you've spent in Charlotte reflected on your music?
When I moved to Charlotte, I ain't even going to front, when I lived in Fayetteville and Atlanta I was heavily influenced by trap music. I was a trap rapper when I started. When I moved to Charlotte it was a total change. I didn't know anybody and I had to get it from the ground up. It changed the way that I made music. It changed my thought process about music and the shit that I wanted to write about. I would say that Charlotte changed me in a huge way. It definitely made me a better artist. It made me work harder. I wasn't getting shows until I came here. I didn't have an actual project that was online and had digital and physical copies. I hadn't had any of that until I moved to Charlotte, so Charlotte has a huge influence on my music, my sound, everything about me as an artist.
Do you have a timeline for releasing the new album?
The album is pretty much done, the timeline will just be how long it takes for Hold Please to get older and for people to want new music. I'm going to do a couple shows with those records, and maybe toward the end of the first quarter I'll start working in new records from the album at shows just to see how people react.