King Louie, 24, came up in a part of Chicago's Southeast side that many call Dro City, but, thanks to an active street team and strong online presence, he has found fans across the entire city, and, increasingly, on a national level. A recent shout out from Kanye West on West's “I Don't Like” remix further elevated Louie's profile. We spoke with Louie to get his thoughts on New Chicago music and its YouTube presence.
How do you think YouTube helps people get in touch with music in Chicago, and what effect do you think that has had on you finding new fans?
As far as it being effective, if you look at the stats or whatever on YouTube – a lot of people have phones that you can watch videos on so, like, more people watch it off their phone, rather than around in their 'hood or whatever. Looking on phones, it was just more convenient, so that’s how I [reached] more people... Like, everybody don’t have a computer. Everybody had phones, so it was a way to market yourself. If you think like someone [thinking] ‘I can watch it on my phone’ – it’s more convenient than the crib. That’s how I went with it. And then I’m pretty sure that’s how everyone else went with it... And then, like, as far as fans, it gains fans because you can promote your Twitter and then it’s like – just the Internet [bleep]. People look at the Internet all the time…somebody might look at something and then it pops up [with] a 'recommend' or something, like after you watch a video that you had searched.
Like it’s easier watching a video on your phone than downloading a mixtape or something?
Yeah, it’s easier doing that or – you can do anything on the phone. You can do all that [bleep] on a phone, even download – you could download a mixtape on your phone. It’s just easier, in terms of you being at the crib. Everybody don’t got a computer; it’s a higher percentage of people with phones than it is with computers. It’s more convenient.
You were one of the first New Chicago rappers to start getting noticed. Now you’ve got people like Chief Keef and Lil Durk getting attention from all over the country. Do you think there’s a whole scene coming out of Chicago right now?
I would say that. As far as the generation now, I would say – I would have to pay homage to, Bump [J], Goon Squad and all that. That’s who I was – like, coming up on the East [Side] – that’s who I was watching coming up. That’s who we was watching take off. And then, like, after that, it’s like ‘boom.’ I started doing what I was doing, and then it was, like, making a sound. And the Chief Keefs and the Lil Durks, they was younger than me, like way younger than me, way younger than I was when they was first listening to the music...So I started getting out there, and then they started putting their music out there, executing just like I was. And that’s the new sound that everybody likes. Just, we get to say we still hood.
Do you think this is a chance for Chicago to make an impact nationally right now?
I believe it is. All the talent is raw talent, organic, real. It’s not like no made up stuff, no façade. Everything is raw and that new type of raw talent coming that ain’t nobody got a taste of yet. Yeah, I think so. I see us on the rise as a city.
What do you think about working with DGainz?
DGainz just, to me, like he knows how to make something look how he wants. Like, I come to Gainz with an idea and then he’ll just make it look like that. Like, dope. I tell him like, ‘this is what I want, bro’ and then he’ll execute it. Every video that I did, they gradually grew. They had growth and development within this crowd. He’s got the raw look, that talent that can’t be denied. It’s just raw talent that I can’t explain what it is.
If people are just getting into King Louie, what’s the first song they should check out?
I don’t know, man, check all that [bleep] out. I would think, like, “Kush Too Strong/Man Up Band Up” on YouTube. They’ve got the most views, but that’s what [fans] think. I’ve got a bunch of songs.
Thanks for talking to me...
All right, happy 4/20
Kyle Kramer is a RedEye Special Contributor