[EXCLUSIVE] Interview with Chicago Southside MC/Rapper King Louie
Chicago may be the birth place of house music, but frequently overlooked in the Windy City is how prominent the hip/hop scene has become. I don’t think I need to tell you that Chicago has given birth to the likes of Kanye West and Lupe Fiasco, and the fact remains that there is a thriving urban community that is not done churning out stars just yet. Last week, I had the opportunity to sit down and chat with one of these rising stars in the form of South side rapper King Louie. Check out the interview below as I talk with him about his new music, why social media is important, and his favorite flavors of weed. Enjoy.
The Sights and Sounds: I’m sitting here with Southside Chicago MC/rapper King Louie and crew. You want to introduce yourself for the Internet audience?
King Louie: I’m King Louie, Mr. Too Cool, Mr. I’m Arrogant. I’m just an up and coming artist from the south side of Chicago on the rise.
The Sights and Sounds: You just got back from LA last week, how was the trip?
King Louie: Yeah, we got back a couple weeks ago. It was dope. We got real high. I can say whatever I want to say, right?
The Sights and Sounds: Yeah, we’ll tell it like it is.
King Louie: Yeah, we got pretty high. I got my weed license, too. We went down to Venice on the beach.
The Sights and Sounds: We can get right to the point then. I know you guys are smoking what you refer to as ‘Loud’ weed.
King Louie: Yeah, we call it loud pack.
The Sights and Sounds: So I take it you’re a connoisseur of the plant, do you have any favorite flavors?
King Louie: Well in LA, my favorite flavor is Luke Skywalker. I call it Luke. And when I’m in Chicago my favorite flavor is Iran. Bubba Kush is good, too, if it’s the real Bubba.
The Sights and Sounds: How did you get started into rapping? Where did you get your roots?
King Louie: Just listening to music. Liking it. And then I started writing my own music. But I didn’t start recording until I got kicked out of school. That’s when I really started.
I got kicked out of school my last year in high school and I didn’t have anything else to do. I went to an alternative school and it was hella dumb because I didn’t have to do any real work to be in school. So when I got out of class I would just go to the studio. And we started going to the studio a lot, putting out cd’s and stuff.
The Sights and Sounds: You dropped your first official release in 2007 with Boss Shit. That was a long time ago, how have the last five years been for you?
King Louie: It’s been dope. Just gradually growing, you know? This past year has been nuts.
The Sights and Sounds: Yeah, I’ve been seeing your name cropping up more and more.
King Louie: Yeah, it’s decent. I feel like I should have been on the blogs getting a little buzz. I’ve been on my grind and it’s paying off.
“…if you’re willing to be noticed, you’ll be noticed if you work hard enough.”
The Sights and Sounds: And it’s been interesting to see how artists are getting noticed with the rise of the Internet.
King Louie: Yeah, everybody has the Internet now. Everyone has it on their smart phone. So now everyone can watch all the music videos easily. If I go out and feel like listening to music, I can just listen to my phone. That’s what everyone’s doing. You can just download a mixtape on your phone or watch the videos on YouTube and it just helps to get your name out there better. It’s a good way to promote yourself.
The Sights and Sounds: The Internet is being flooded with new artists, do you think that makes it easier or harder for a good artist to be found?
King Louie: I mean, if you’re willing to be noticed, you’ll be noticed if you work hard enough. It’s just that it’s an even better way to get noticed because it’s free! You can put your videos on YouTube for free. On some of these websites you can’t even upload your mixtapes without paying for it of having an account with them. So it’s just like free promotion. You can build yourself up and you can keep track of how many views you get or how many downloads you get. So that’s how you know, “I’m working. It’s paying off.” The fact that if you think you’re good but no one is listening to your shit, you’ll be able to see through your views.
The Sights and Sounds: Speaking of YouTube views, your recent track and video for “Too Cool” has been getting a lot of online attention. It’s gotten some airplay on WGCI Chicago and spun at Magic City in Atlanta.
King Louie: Yeah, it was spun a couple times when we were in the A. Now they’re playing it in New York. It’s decent.
The Sights and Sounds: What was it like hearing yourself on the radio for the first time?
King Louie: It was dope. You know what I mean? It was cool. I’ve been on the radio before though, so it wasn’t really a thing. I want to see my stuff on TV. I don’t really care about the radio. That would be dope to see myself on TV.
The Sights and Sounds: So going back to your music. You’ve referred to your music making as a sort of gumbo style: a little bit of this a little bit of that. Can you talk more about your creative process and how you go about coming up with a new track?
King Louie: I don’t know. I don’t just go and be like, “It’s time to write.” That’s lame as hell. But if I’m high, or if there’s a funny joke or something; that’s how I do. I vent. Like, I just came up with this joint called “Val Venis” because we were high as hell. I just came up with a dance. Check the views, I want to say it has like 9,000 views on YouTube now. And that isn’t even the song or anything, that’s just the dance. So it’s trending.
But I’m not trying to promote or tell people, “Yeah, go get high and you’ll be me.” I’m not trying to do that. But that’s what I do. I get high and just tweak out. But sometimes I’m not high. I’ll just right about some shit that’s happened. I just vent about everyday life. Things I’ve been through, things I’m witnessing. That’s all I do though. I watch movies and shit, too; things like that. I watch people and read people and just incorporate that into music.
The Sights and Sounds: A type of art is everywhere philosophy.
King Louie: Yeah, that’s all it is. I’m like a sponge sucking everything up. That’s why people are liking me because they’ll be like, “How is he talking about wood?” You know what I’m saying? Just stupid shit like that that makes people think that you’re just an everyday person like them. You just dumb it down and make it something they can relate to, even if it’s something that they don’t do everyday.
The Sights and Sounds: As a designer I can relate to that.
King Louie: Well at least you know. Dope helps. You ever have weed brownies before? Haha, yeah that’s the highest I ever got. We had them in LA. and I was hella high. I felt like an astronaut.
The Sights and Sounds: You know Chicago was talking about decriminalizing marijuana recently.
King Louie: If Chicago does that, I don’t know. That would be a lick if Chicago did that. I don’t think they could do that because people wouldn’t be making money anymore. That’s how everyone is getting money. How are we going to make money then?
I would love it because I’m a consumer; I’m a ‘custo.’ So I would love it. But I don’t think the dealers would.
I don’t want to be just me, I want to be the King Louie of Chicago.
The Sights and Sounds: Moving on to your latest project, Dope and Shrimp. Can you give us a little insight into what’s going on with that?
King Louie: To me, it’s one of our best projects yet. That shit nuts. The production on it is crazy. I’m messing with some nice producers who are crazy; young producers who are coming with the new light. You know what I’m saying? A new sound; killing shit. The word play on that is crazy. I’m just talking about life and its nuts. It’s hard. And the people love me, man. They’re gonna go crazy when they hear that shit.
And I’m gonna drop a mixtape before that; on my Rick Ross shit.
The Sights and Sounds: What’s your mixtape going to be called?
King Louie: I don’t know yet. I might name it Kingdom of Louie, or some stupid shit like that. Some bass ass shit. Just to let them know that it’s gonna be some freestyles and stuff that’s already been out. Because, you know, Dope and Shrimp was originally supposed to be a mixtape. Now it’s going to be an album so I’m gonna drop the mixtape before. It’s gonna have some old stuff and some new joints that people haven’t heard.
The Sights and Sounds: I saw the cover for Dope and Shrimp and laughed a little. Where did you get the idea for using that artwork?
King Louie: Yeah, shout out to my homie Juice. He’s the one who did that. I just like simple stuff. I don’t know. If you look at all my mixtape covers you’ll see that I’m a little different with my covers. I don’t always like that basic stuff. Did you see [the cover of] More Boss Shit? With the King Tut stuff? And the back shows the track list and a picture of where I got hit. I got hit by a car, some people might not know that. And then DrIllinois and HardBody, that was like Call of Duty. And now Dope and Shrimp, that shit goes hard.
The Sights and Sounds: Chicago is widely known as the birth place of house music, and with electronic music making it’s way into different genres, could you see yourself collaborating or bringing that sound into your music?
King Louie: What kind of electronic music?
The Sights and Sounds: Take dubstep for example. It’s been pushing boundaries into hip hop recently.
King Louie: Yeah, that shit’s nuts. Dubstep’s raw. But you know, if it comes around I’ll do it. If it sounds good, yeah, I’ll do it.
The Sights and Sounds: What’s the future for King Louie? What’s your ultimate goal?
King Louie: Being a sex symbol. (Laughs) I just want to change my name so that it’s a symbol, like Prince. Something like ‘The Artist Formerly Known as King.’ Or like Michael. I want to be big like Michael. But I just want to do some boss shit. Because that’s boss just to change your name to a symbol. You know what I’m saying? I just want to be rich. And I want to go down in history as a mogul, I want to be big. I want to be successful. I want to put my people on. Put Chicago on and go down in history. Be a legend.
The Sights and Sounds: Would you consider yourself like the Jay-Z of Chicago?
King Louie: Not yet. But I can be. I see myself being there. That’s boss shit. But right now I’m me. I don’t want to be just me, I want to be the King Louie of Chicago.
The Sights and Sounds: Some blogs and writers would compare you to Waka Flaka Flame and Gucci Mane. What’s your reaction to that?
King Louie: No, no, no, no, no. They say I’m Waka Flaka because I have dreads. I don’t scream like Flaka, nothing like that. It’s only because I have dreads. And Gucci Man, no. I have a song called “Gucci Flow” that I did off his flow and we were paying homage. But I don’t think I rap like him.
The Sights and Sounds: Who are your musical influences?
King Louie: Rick Ross, Lil’ Wayne, Jay-Z, P. Diddy, Bag Boys. That’s not it, but right now, those are the guys who influence me.
The Sights and Sounds: Who did you listen to growing up?
King Louie: Lil’ Wayne, DMX, Eminem, Jay-Z, I liked a couple songs of Nas, Master P, Ja Rule’s lame ass, Bone Thugs, R. Kelly. Some other people, I just have to remember them all.
The Sights and Sounds: Where do you like to perform your music? On stage or in the studio?
King Louie: I like the studio better. That’s where I make my music to perform. But if the show be bustin’, that shit be crackin’. If the show is weak, I don’t like that shit. But if it’s bustin’, and the people in the crowd are into it, it’s good. Because sometimes in Chicago, the crowd is on some other shit. Maybe they’re thinking they’re too cool to like the music. It’s like, “What the fuck you come for?” But any other place where they’ll be biting that shit, it’s nuts to be on stage. But really the studio, though. I listen to my music and just get in my zone.
The Sights and Sounds: What’s your favorite place to perform in general?
King Louie: In general? I was gonna say in bed. (Laughs) But I don’t really know.
The Sights and Sounds: If you could pick one person to collaborate with, time not being a factor, who would it be?
King Louie: I would want to do another song with my homie Pack. He’s dead now, though. R.I.P. Pack. I want to do a song with folks, that shit would be nuts.
The Sights and Sounds: Here’s one I like to throw out. If you could be any spirit animal, what would it be and why?
King Louie: A lion. Because he’s the king of the jungle.
The Sights and Sounds: Any upcoming shows you want to get the word out for?
King Louie: Yeah, I got a lot of shows coming up. I just don’t know when they are. So just follow me on Twitter and look out for the shows on Facebook. And if you have an iPhone, follow me on Instagram.
The Sights and Sounds: You have any shout outs you want to give?
King Louie: Shout outs to all my East side guys, Throw city guys, my baby Els, the F*** Boys, and shout out to you for showing me love! Shout out to Lawless Inc., to my whole team, John Malcolm, Fly NT, shout out to anybody who comes out to rock it with us, to the East side, shouts to the low, shout out to the Hundreds, out west, to my guys in Cermack, and everybody out there that I’m in collaboration with. Teamwork makes dream work, haha.
The Sights and Sounds: Cool man, thanks for taking the time and sitting down with us.