Rapper Louis King Is The Sound Of West L.A.
Louis King is far more than just a rapper, he’s an activist trying to make a difference in this world — specifically prison reform.
The Los Angeles native describes himself as his latest project: De la West Los.
Hailing from the Westside of LA, Louis is here to make music to uplift the people. He states, “To tell a story of a street dude who's striving to inspire the youth, the people in my community, and around the world… on some G-s##t though.”
His Instagram bio alone reads: hip-hop touring artist, award-winning creative, world-class athlete, and educator. Aside from his own webpage and music, it also includes the link for aim4theheart.org which implements community-based programs in schools and prisons to give at-risk youth an outlet to express themselves through art. AIM is founded by Leila Steinberg who first discovered Tupac Shakur.
Louis was prone to head down the wrong path given his environment, but he also had football to hold on to. Suddenly, he became known as a spitter on campus as he juggled being a National Champion Running Back.
His life experiences overcoming obstacles and hardships in itself is what drives him to record in the studio any chance he can.
Serving as tour manager for Earl Sweatshirt, Louis has traveled to over 20 countries with artists like Anderson .Paak, Thundercat, Erykah Badu, The Outlawz, and Solange. In addition, he releases more music in one year than any other artist in the rap game. Somehow, he still manages to play father figure to his one-year-old daughter (his number one priority).
Regardless, his whole mantra is to encourage the youth to pursue their wildest dreams and work hard until they get there.
AllHipHop: You were raised in Los Angeles correct?
Louis King: I'm from LA, my dad’s from Nigeria. I was born in New York City, then raised out here since I was 2. Being involved in the culture in Los Angeles had a lot to do with it. Growing up with gang violence. I was 11 years old, my house got burnt down. We live near a juvenile detention center off the freeway, so we'll always have crazy s##t going on. Our house was like a cultural center. We'll have people escaping from prison jumping over the fence because it's right by the freeway. People could get onto our house through hopping the fence.
One night, I woke up. We all heard the dogs barking at 4am. Came out, the fire was up the stairs. We live on the second floor, the first floor was all our African drums we’d make. As the fire came up, the dogs saved our lives. We ran downstairs and grabbed whatever we could grab, each other really. When I came downstairs, there’s graffiti on the walls at the top of the backroom courtyard area where it connects to the 10 West freeway (so technically the 10 East side).
That s##t made me understand hip-hop. I identify with hip hop and what was going on because I’m the first one in my family, the first generation in LA to experience this type of s##t. As an African drummer, all the songs come from some place. For me, I needed to make s##t that represented what I come from, what I was growing up in. That s##t got me involved. We were moving around, involved in different street things.
AllHipHop: When did the music thing become real for you?
Louis King: It was real for me my whole life because I came into the world with a drum. I've been playing in a band. Before I could walk, I was on stage performing. It was something my family did. My dad came to America doing music, that's how he got here. My mom managed my dad. When the fire happened, I’m like “man, I'm finna rap.” I was listening to Dre, Snoop, whatever was around at the time. This the s##t I'm going through, I had to tell my story.
In high school, we started a riot based on a song we made. This teacher came up to me like “this s##t is pretty good. If y'all actually put your energy into something positive, you can make a big impact.” Literally, everyone on the song got kicked out of school because of the song. They said they didn't feel safe or some bulls##t. Music was always real to me. I always thought “damn, fools are really getting on.” I didn't grow up in Nebraska or somewhere random. I grew up in LA, people are on out here. This s##t’s real. This s##t’s a dream, but this is reality. This is what my family does, and I needed to find a way out.
AllHipHop: Talk about your close relationship with Earl The Sweatshirt and working with him.
Louis King: Earl, the man! We went on tour last year. We've been on tour all around the world. Going to Scandinavia, went through the US and Canada Fire It Up! Tour. I tour managed for him, it was absolutely a blessing. There’s a beast in every blessing, but it was a blessing. It was a great tour. We didn't miss any shows. We had a great time. We made some dope music on the tour.
We always joked around. We could be cousins because we have a lot of similarities, both of our fathers come from Africa. They're both legendary musicians and artists in their own right. It's a crazy energy when you’re looking at Americans from the African standpoint, because the idea of blackness, black people, African Americans, they look at that s##t differently. But that's a whole other conversation. We have crazy ass talks. Earl’s an intellectual. Dope artist. Blessing to be on that tour, he even brought me on stage. I opened up the whole West Coast Fired Up! Tour for him. I got love for Earl for real.
AllHipHop: In 2018 alone, you released over 156 songs in a campaign called Beautiful Grind Collection. What’s your work ethic? What are you working towards?
Louis King: Absolutely. A couple years ago, I met E.D.I. Mean, Young Noble, and Fatal from The Outlawz. I started touring with them internationally. The vibe was there. They work so hard because they come from the Pac school. We just meshed together. With the 156 songs, my goal, my message isn’t to tell everyone to make as much music as you can, or try to oversaturate the market or none of that. Do what you do.
For me, I felt I wasn’t doing enough. A couple things here, trying to match whatever standard they got me to do, but I'm a creative creature. I do this s##t for me. I wanted to make a mural. Think of a mural on a big ass building. You’re not thinking how big the building is, you’re just like “damn, that's art right there.” That's what I wanted to do when I made 12 songs, through the 12 albums that all connected into each other with matching artwork. The artwork was done live each month by an artist named Vanessa Rivera who went to USC. She’d listen to the music and do the artwork. It’s really a whole, connected art experience.
There's no record label, there's no artist that has the data I have as far as algorithms, Spotify, Apple Music, of what happens when you release this type of music. There's no artist in the internet era who's released as much music as me in a year.
Louis King: I don't know, is there? [chuckles] I haven’t met anyone in the Guinness Book of World Records. We’re not doing it to try to put a bunch of music out and make that be the thing. The ordeal is not the amount, it's the music. It's saying "hey, this is the music I make.” I make all kinds, a lot of music got placed on TV shows, commercials, movies, and documentaries. That was the goal. To do something at all, anything, every single week of a whole year, is a crazy idea.
That attracted certain people who helped me get on tour with Earl, Anderson .Paak, all these other amazing artists. Okay, I'm supposed to be here. We’re working that hard and I'm not trying to slow down. Some people can do some s##t, they get it. It's easy, it comes to them. But for those of ya’ll it comes hard to… I'm the type to put that energy, go to the gym, get on your Kobe s##t. I’m on that Mamba energy lately.
AllHipHop: Why’d you name your new project, De la West Los?
Louis King: In Spanish, it means “from West Los Angeles.” They call it the West Los. Ater doing this 12 super album, I wanted to put my next foot forward. Only song I really dropped last year was "In the Fire" produced by MIKE, we did that on the tour. But I wanted to do a project that really represented me, to show people who I was.
AllHipHop: Do you speak Spanish?
Louis King: Un poquito. I ain't no D Smoke now, shouts to my n##ga D Smoke!
AllHipHop: Talk about putting real content in your lyrics.
Louis King: I wanted to make something that represented me, and real content is part of that. You know how Nas made Illmatic sound like Queensbridge? Nipsey sounds like Slauson, like Crenshaw. You feel me? I wanted to make something that sounded really West LA.
AllHipHop: What is the sound of West LA?
Louis King: That's De la West Los. It's in the middle right, because it's in the hood. The Westside of LA, that's from Crenshaw, Inglewood down to Mid-city up to Santa Monica, Venice. You’re in the hood, but you’re also in Hollywood. You’re in Beverly Hills, you’re in Santa Monica. You’re in all the areas where there wasn’t a rapper who came out to say "oh, I'm from the West.” You got a lot of n##gas from Compton.
When I hear D Smoke, he sounds Inglewood. That’s its own unique sound to show where he’s coming from. You really haven't had a West Los Angeles rapper come out, so I wanted to produce tracks like “Silhouette” and “Shadows” — that has an EDM feel to it. Still in Hollywood, but that was dark. I wanted vocals. I want them funky, groovy joints! Them Anderson type joints. I wanted to tell stories. I wanted to tell a story with real content.
The TED Talk song, “When TedxTalk,” I'm really going to perform that at a TED talk. It’s really to exemplify emotional literacy in these two characters really needed somewhere to express their trauma. They didn't get it, so this is the direction they went. I told that story, trying to be in the same realm as any of the great storytellers. “Brenda’s Got A Baby”-esque, all that type of stuff. Education, this is the curriculum. That's why I made that the first track right off back after the intro. Because a lot of times people look at you with a banger on the second song, but I like giving you something real. Let them know “this the type of s##t you finna hear.”
AllHipHop: What are some goals for yourself as an artist at this point?
Louis King: I want to continue to grow and take this to another notch. Continue touring. It was really cool seeing the Anderson and Earl tour, how the stories of both of them coming up. Eventually, I'm going to be on my own world tour with my own group of artists I'm putting on. The visions I have are even bigger than music. Jay Z moves, feeling the community. Destroying the school to prison pipeline. I want to be in the schools and the prisons.
I want to create opportunities for the youth. I want to create a bridge to Africa and I'm going to say this last because we need to bring our kids to Africa, and we need to bring Africans to America. And that's what I think is like, my goal in terms of long term. The money’s going to come, all the stuff will fall into place, but I want to make an impact at the end of my legacy.