King Louie Breaks Down Chi-Town Influences, Says Common “Was Going Over Our Heads”

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Lately it seems like you could stop on any corner in Chicago and find a talented rapper within earshot. From Chance The Rapper and his Save Money Crew to Chief Keef and the GBE boys, there’s a lot going on in the Chi. Still, one of the city’s sons, King Louie, might be having the best year of  all. After signing with Epic Records in 2012, Louie dropped the incredible Drilluminati mixtape and kicked off 2013 with a feature on “Send It Up,” a standout track from Kanye West’s Yeezus. When Louie swung by the XXL headquarters last week, we asked him to tell us about some of his other Chicago influences. From Common to Bump J, Louie pays homage to the icons. 


“I used to listen to Crucial Conflict and Twista. R. Kelly. I liked R&B music and soulful music, because it touches you. I call my style gumbo because I like so many types of music so it’s like they all compressed in one, like a boiling pot. I call that shit gumbo.

“Kanye was a spitter. He used to wear polos and shit, and then everybody used to wear polos. Niggas was dressing like ‘Ye. ‘Ye made it stylish to wear Jesus pieces again when he said, ‘I got family in high places like Jesus niece.’ It was like coming from the crib who looked like us. He didn’t look like my guys, but some of my guys could look like ‘Ye. And he wasn’t spittin’ like everybody else that was coming from Chicago. He was spitting on some New York shit, or something like that.

“I remember when he said, ‘Mayonnaise color Benz, I push Miracle Whips.’ It was like, he makes you want to go hard and spit bars. To me, him and Bump… Him and Bumpy Johnson, they was the ones from the city that were spitters.

Now, everybody’s rapping, but back then it was ‘Ye, Bump, Common… but we weren’t really listening to Common like that. The shit Common was talking about was going over our heads. We were shorties, but you could kinda digest the shit ‘Ye was saying. And then Bump was from we was from and we was actually seeing the shit Bump was saying, so we knew that shit was for real.”—As told to Dan Buyanovsky