Fire Starter: King Louie
It isn’t just a Chicago thing anymore — just ask King Louie. There was a time when 24-year-old Louis Johnson was just making music for fans within his native city’s borders, but in the past year, the Eastside Chi-town MC has seen his name spread like wildfire. A well-timed Kanye Westplug only fanned the flames.
“I was coming from the dentist, he had gave me all those meds, so I was kinda out of whack,” Louie told Mixtape Daily of when he first heard Yeezy name-check him on the G.O.O.D. Music remix to Chief Keef’s underground riot starter “I Don’t Like.”
“Shout-out to L.E.P., J Boogie, right?/ Chief Keef, King Louie, this is Chi, right?” ‘Ye spits on the souped-up remix, which hit the Web last week on May 1.
“It was crazy, because you don’t think them type of guys on that level hear your music just coming from the hood,” Louie said of his surprise during an L.A. interview three days after the song dropped.
Though Louie plays humble, it has been increasingly difficult to ignore his musical output. His 2011 track “Too Cool” has been consistently buzzing thanks to its infectious hook and polished music video. It also doesn’t hurt that he joined forces with Kanye’s former manager John Monopoly about eight months ago.
Now, Louie is signed to independent label Lawless Inc. and continues to pump out street-inspired, hard-hitting, dope-boy music. His latest mixtape, Motion Picture, serves as an appetizer for his upcoming album, Dope & Shrimp.
Lou was about 16 years old when he first started hitting the recording studio. He started taking rap seriously after he got kicked out of high school. Now KL is part of a budding Chicago music scene that includes Chief Keef, Rockie Fresh, L.E.P. Bogus Boys, YP and Def Jam’s latest signees Lil’ Durk and Lil’ Reese. “The music scene is crazy. It’s younger and energetic. … It’s fun again,” Louie said of his city’s new crop of spitters.
King Louie is particularly proud that he has had a hand in influencing a lot of Chi’s new talent: He and 16-year-old Keef are frequent collaborators. “Makes me feel like I did something right for my peers,” he said.
Now that rap’s spotlight is shining on him and his team, King Louie doesn’t plan to let up his verbal assault any time soon. Next up is Dope & Shrimp, a title Louie said he chose because all he does is “smoke dope and eat shrimp.”
“It’s more mature; you can tell that I’m growing,” he explained. “You can hear the growth and development in my craft. Sounds like a better Louie.”
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