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Wednesday, December 13

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Concert Tue Oct 29 2013

Review: King Louie @ Reggies, 10/24

King-Louie-3.jpg
Chicago is a city in transition, transforming into a central force in hip-hop before our very eyes. In between the meteoric rise of Chance the Rapper and the relentlessly confrontational presence of Chief Keef, Chicago plays host to a slew of artists who are on the verge of making it. This past Thursday at Reggies, I was able to witness one of those on the cusp artists; King Louie.

You may recognize King Louie from his appearance on Kanye's latest album Yeezus, where Louie raps the first verse and chorus on "Send it Up." Perhaps you recall seeing his Basquiat-inspired promo stickers all over town a year or so ago. Maybe you're into the local rap scene and are already familiar with him and his impressive lineup of mixtapes. The point of this is that knowingly or not, you probably at least have a passing knowledge of the man and his work.

King Louie (or King L he's legally known as now due to a trademark issue with Disney and a cartoon character with the same name from The Jungle Book) has been rapping for the better part of a decade. He released his first mixtape, Boss Shit back in 2007. According to an interview with David Drake, Louie's career was put on hold briefly after a car accident. He bounced back though with a series of acclaimed mixtapes which culminated in him getting signed to Epic Records and recording with the aforementioned Kanye West.

I walked into Reggies last Thursday night and was greeted by small but loyal and enthusiastic crowd. Louie's DJ got the crowd excited by playing Kanye's remix of Chief Keef's "I Don't Like" and as Kanye's verse gave a shoutout to King Louie he appeared on stage wearing a white tuxedo, perfectly maintained dreadlocks, pitch black sunglasses and holding a half drunk bottle of champagne which he charismatically continued to drink throughout the night. "I usually don't dress like this," he mused. "I just got back from shooting a music video," he said as he launched into a freestyle over Jay-Z's "Tom Ford." His set consisted of mainly fan favorites; from his love letter to weed ("Kush Too Strong") to his declaration as a rap contender ("Rozay Flow.")

Another highlight was about halfway through the set. "I adore the money and fame," King Louie said as he took another drink from his quickly vanishing bottle of champagne. "But in the end I do this all for my people," he said as he launched into the drill anthem "My Niggaz." The crowd went ballistic as Louie played the preacher as he passionately rapped about the brotherhood and the struggles of life in the projects. I looked around and saw everyone cathartically rapping along. I then looked to my side and I noticed a man moving fluidly in sync to the tempo of the drum snares. It looked somewhat like pop and locking, but more relaxed with movement concentrated in his elbows and knees. It took me a moment to figure out that what he was doing was bopping. Bopping is a new hip-hop dance craze that's appearing in pockets of the west and south sides of the city. Our friends at Pitchfork and the Chicago Reader both have thorough articles examining the origins of the dance if you're interested.

To close he performed the first single from his upcoming mixtape, Drilluminati 2. The song is called "Tony" and is essentially an ode to gangster archetypes. He ended his set with his duet with another rapper on the ascension, Katie Got Bandz, for the joyful "Pop Off." "Katie ain't here tonight," Louie said as he finished his bottle of champagne. "So y'all are going to have to sing her part for her." The crowd sang and danced along in celebration as to how far Chicago's rap community has come. It was a short set, clocking in a little over 40 minutes, but in that small amount of time he proved how he's made a believer out of so many.

 
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