If he weren’t from Chicago, King Louie might have had a takeover year in 2012. He released one of the year’s best rap singles in the endlessly replayable “Val Venis”. He was shouted-out by Kanye. By dropping a new song or video seemingly every week, he most certainly accrued a not insignificant chunk of change for blogs like Fake Shore Drive. But because he’s from the same city as better-known upstarts like Chief Keef, Lil Reese, and Lil Durk, the 24-year-old Louie was overshadowed all year.
Thanks to some of the songs from his new Drilluminati mixtape, though, Louie might leapfrog one or more of those MCs sometime soon. “Val Venis” is here, but so is the endorphin-rush R&B of “Bandz Up”, the EDM blare of “Dope Smoke”, and the Juicy J- and Pusha T-featuring “My Hoes They Do Drugs”, basically Louie’s answer to “Bandz a Make Her Dance”. These songs exemplify Louie’s two most valuable gifts – a nearly Keef-rivaling knack for hooks and an ear for luxuriating, propulsive beats – and while they might not become bona fide radio hits, you’ll be hearing them around. They’re great.
Unfortunately, Louie’s greatest weakness is also exposed here. None of the upcoming Chicago rappers is gunning to be the next Common, but Louie stands out as a particularly clumsy wordsmith, with bars ranging from the gleefully goofy (“I get more cheese than pictures!”) to the hopelessly narrow-minded (the last verse of “My Niggaz”, starting with “My niggas, I love my niggas”). Still, while Louie might be subject to vitriol from backpackers, there’s an energy to this tape that negates most of its lyrical flaws. Long live the – well, you know how it goes.
Essential Tracks: “Val Venis”, “My Hoes They Do Drugs”, and “Bandz Up”