Chi-Town’s King Louie Talks Southern Rap, Lil B, And Just Staying Alive

    Things are going King Louie’s way, and fast. Beginning with 2007’s overlooked Boss Shit, the 24-year-old Chicago native has been finding his way up the Windy City rap scene through a steady stream of mixtapes, chief among them last year’s Hardbody and #ManUpBandUp Pt. 1. At first listen, a few things about Louie stand out, not the least of which are his cool flow and knack for hashtag-spawning turns of phrase (#MUBU). So, even while other Chi-Town upstarts like Chief Keef and Lil Durk are making waves, Louie is poised for something of a takeover.

    The Motion Picture, Louie’s newest tape, is only further evidence of that. From the Keef-assisted “Winnin‘” to the on-fire “Shot Caller” freestyle to the jarring opener “Bars,“ it‘s arguably the best tape to come from Chicago this year. Plus, its wholly great production should bring drastically increased profiles to its relatively little-known producers, some of whom include Young Chop, C-Sick, Lokey, DGainz, and J-Hill.

    Recently, we called up Louie to hear about, among other things, his love for the Cash Money and No Limit releases of yore, what region means in rap these days, and the details on his long-awaited debut LP, Dope and Shrimp (out during the summer, he hopes). Dude may be a man of few words, but most of what he does divulge has some weight to it. Special thanks to Phill Roche for his help with making this conversation happen.

    Given the current rap scene, wherein seemingly more artists than ever are fighting to be heard, what are you doing to make yourself stand out?
    I just try to make music that my people want to hear. I like to make a variety of music for a variety of flows.

    A good amount of the press about you talks about how you’re from Chicago but most of your music, at least as far as the beats go, has a southern-sounding undercurrent. Is that a conscious thing on your part?
    Not really. That down-south stuff is just what I like to hear. I can’t help my taste.

    That said, from a purely musical standpoint, does it really even matter that you’re from Chicago?
    I mean, I try to put on for the city, show how the city really is. But as far as sounding like what most people think of as Chicago rap? Nah. And backpack rap? Not at all.

    Do you think region is even all that relevant in rap these days?
    I think people should just make whatever they want to make. It shouldn’t really matter where you’re from.

    You’ve said you’re inspired by the prolificacy of Rick Ross and Lil Wayne. What, in your mind, separates them from other prolific rappers like Gucci Mane and Lil B?
    They all rap about the same things, but basically, it’s the wordplay and the lyrical content. And Ross and Wayne are versatile, especially Wayne. He did the Auto-Tune and the rock album, Rebirth. I’m not trying to beef with Lil B, but his stuff is just nothing lyrical. I think he’s really just trying to get noticed.

    You’ve done a lot of freestyles in your day, and The Motion Picture features freestyles over the Harry Fraud-produced “Shot Caller,” made famous by French Montana, and the T-Minus-produced “The Motto,” by Drake and Lil Wayne. What do you like about freestyles?
    On freestyles, I can just go in and let the flow accelerate and take off. I actually like doing freestyles more than I like rapping over original beats. I’ll never stop freestyling.

    In that case, do you think you’ll ever do a mixtape of nothing but freestyles?
    Actually, I’m thinking about releasing something like toward the summer. A lot of my people have been wanting me to do that.

    You’ve said you’ve been influenced by records from heyday-era No Limit and Cash Money. What are favorite releases from those labels?
    Silkk the Shocker had a bunch of joints. Juvenile’s 400 Degreez. Wayne’s Lights Out. [Those labels] put out a whole bunch of dope shit.

    Who are some producers and rappers you’d like to work with in the future?
    The MMG camp, definitely. And working with Lex Luger would be dope as hell.

    You’ve said that Dope and Shrimp is going to be more laidback and have a little less of a trap-music sound to it, in addition to being more mature. Could you elaborate on that?
    Dope and Shrimp is going to be smooth, smoother than anything I’ve done. It’s going to flow like a real, fresh album.

    Where do you want to be one year from now?

    Five years from now?
    Richer. And five years after that, wealthy.

    What about 20 years from now?
    Alive. Just alive.