Clocking in at a relatively brief 40 minutes, King Louie’s Jeep Music, is a familiar yet enjoyable and comforting dose of new material from one of the preeminent figures at the front of Chicago rap’s recent resurgence. It’s become easy to lump the hotbed of talent coming out of the Windy City into one singular subgenre known as “drill music,” but Louie has always maintained a conscious balance between his appreciation for the dark, brooding, head-banging elements of “drill” with a tendency to also dabble in a less brash, more melodic, euphoric sound that finds precedence somewhere near Zaytoven-esque Southern trap bounciness and smooth, sample-driven or luxurious R&B-tinged production. Jeep Music, a cohesive 12-track effort, is a fine example of Louie’s prowess in the latter.
While Louie is admittedly a man of simple pleasures- after all, he is intent upon titling his debut album with Epic/Sony Dope & Shrimp- don’t let his focal subject areas fool you (bands, dope, whips, women, sometimes shrimp, and more bands.) King Louie has always displayed a great deal of wit, charisma and depth within his wordplay, making his verses consistently exciting, no matter what he is talking about and how repetitive it might seem on paper.
“Time,” the tape’s opener, produced by SnapbackOnDaTrack, is a great tone-setter for his self-titled Jeep music as a whole. A cheeky sample from “Hard to Say I’m Sorry,” an early ’80s hit by Rock band and Windy City natives Chicago, accompanied by a warped, reverberating synth pattern leads Louie through his verse, one that strikes a perfect balance between a withdrawn effortlessness and smirk-inducing arrogance. Tracks like “Summer Dress,” “Jeep Music,” So Many Hoes,” and “Actavis,” are in a similar vein as “Time”- down-tempo, melodic and flat out enjoyable.
And while he proves on “Jeep Music,” he’s still a technically skilled bar-for-bar rapper when he wants to be, it’s moments like on “So Many Hoes,” where Louie ends his final verse by bellowing out (in pitch-perfect Auto-Tune, of course,) “ya-da-da-da-da-bum-ba…. I got so many hoes-ah” that makes Jeep Music as fun and replayable as it is. If there were one, single greatest moment on the tape, it would be the Chase Davis-produced “Nice & Slow,” an incredible reworking of Usher’s record by the same title. In his own warm, groggy and withdrawn way, Louie harmonizes à la Usher Raymond, and the result is pure bliss.
While there’s a giant swell of talented rappers out today, many of these artists are stuck at a middling level because they fail to transcend one mode, emotion and speed at all times. For Louie, as demonstrated by projects like Jeep Music, he’s able to skillfully incorporate elements of Auto-Tune, screw music, drill, trap, and humor and deft wordplay all without sacrificing his thuggish persona. Jeep Music is a short, albeit concentrated effort, which finds the Chicago rapper building on his strengths, and many of the high points displayed on hit on his latest effort, March Madness.—@WavyDaveWilliam