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Q&A with King L

King L presents, Drilluminati 2.
Swank Publishing

Two years ago I interviewed Chicago rapper King Louie about his start in the rap game. Since then Louie has signed a deal with Epic Records, released a handful of mixtapes, been featured on platforms like MTV and the Chicago Sun-Times, and landed the only guest verse on Kanye West’s platinum-selling Yeezus album on the song ‘Send it Up’.

Louie handled the chorus and stole the show from Mr. West with lyrics like, “Last night my bitches came in twos/And they both suck like they came to lose.”

Louie has come a long way, and plans to go further. Now going by King L, the man born Louis Johnson recently released the free mixtape, Drilluminati 2 and has more in-store for 2014.

SS: Tell me about Drilluminati 2.

King L: It’s hard bars. It ain’t really like Jeep Music. It’s more hard beats and grimier. It’s the younger Louie back, but more intense.

SS: How is Drilluminati 2 different from part 1?

King L: The first one was more laid-back. I recorded a lot of that in L.A. The environment was totally different when I was making some of the songs. The environment was different so the songs came out different. The majority of the material that I recorded on Drilluminati 2 was in Chicago so it’s real hard music.

SS: So does the scenery shape the way you write or is it the music?

King L: It’s just like the mind frame I was in. With the first Drilluminati, the drill scene was on top and emerging. Me and my guys invented and put drill on the map. Drilluminati 2, they were giving credit to too many artists for the drill sound and they didn’t have nothing to do with it. So I felt like I had to make a statement and come back out with the real drill music, not what they’re calling drill.

SS: The last time we spoke was almost two years ago right before Motion Picture came out. How have you grown as an artist since then?

King L: My confidence has grown due to all the things that I’ve accomplished over the years. It’s just easier now.

SS: A lot of people criticize rappers for their violent lyrics, are you worried that your lyrics might influence younger kids negatively?

King L: Not really, due to the fact that when younger kids see me they probably come from where I come from so it’s more like seeing somebody succeed. It’s not like seeing one of your big brother’s grow up and you gotta go visit him in a prison. I grew up and you can check me out on TV or buy my album, and it might make you want to succeed. They just blow up the negativity because everybody wanna judge, but you don’t judge actors about their movies if they play a violent role – it’s just a good movie. It’s entertainment at the end of the day. If you’re a success and can promote that to the youth, I think that’s good. I let the positive overrule the negative.

SS: What do you think should be done to stop the senseless murders going on in Chicago?

King L: Legalize guns. That’s in the midst of happening now, you can get your F.O.I.D. card. People will think about it now. Nine times out of ten it’s ignorant people out here with guns killing people, but if the victims were legally armed it would calm down.

SS: I agree with, you 100%. They make you go through a lot of hoops to get that carry and conceal though.

King L: Naw, it’s not really a lot of hoops. You gotta think about, not that many people are going to go through that. But if you can defend yourself and you’re rightfully armed I think a lot of people like innocent bystanders won’t get killed. I think people second guess it. I don’t think anybody will send their selves off to go and kill somebody with a registered gun or your ass gon’ go to jail. I think if they did that it would slow a lot of stuff down.

SS: On the rap side, a lot of people have different opinions regarding the support they receive from in the Chicago rap community. Some people say it’s all haters, some people say they get support. Do you feel like people in the Chicago rap scene support one another?

King L: Not the Chicago rap scene. Chicago has been down and been haters so long all they really know how to do is hate. Me, I’m a real dude and what I speak in music is really my life if you know me and see me in the streets. A lot of these rappers talk about being in the hood and all this street stuff but you never see ‘em in the street. Some of your favorite Chicago rappers are not really in the street like they portray to be. It’s a façade. If you’re real and the people can feel you and they respect you, you’re going to get the respect you deserve. The industry has a lot of politics but if you’re a straight-up person in the city you get love. I know they show me love. I can’t speak for nobody else. I get love from all sides. You just gotta go hard with your work and your craft gotta be believable and organic and the people will naturally take to it. They’ll take to some BS, too, but I get love, even though some of the BS gets love, too. I don’t have any complaints.

SS: I saw a video on Youtube of Common freestyling at House of Blues and he shouted you out. Were you there that night?

King L: Yeah, me and Katie Got Bandz actually performed. I performed and brought Katie out with me.

SS: OK, I didn’t even know he was doing a show. He’s been around for over twenty years along with Twista. What’s the reaction toward you like from those guys that started it here?

King L: It’s like homage. Some guys won’t even say nothing to the young bloods. It’s a boost of self-esteem and confidence to my craft. When I met those guys they were fans of my music. It was like, wow. I grew up actually listening to Twista and I’m a fan of Common’s as well. When I met Common he told me I had some cold bars. It felt good to know people knew me on that level.

SS: Another person who reached out to you was Kanye. How did collaborating with Kanye West on his album affect your career?

King L: It didn’t really affect my career. I still gotta work hard, or whatever. It’s like having something on your resume. It’s good, but it ain’t no super turn up. People didn’t start blowing my phone up like, “Ah, you’re on a song with Kanye!” It’s just a good opportunity for confidence, for the craft, and motivation. It ain’t turned up like that. It got me a Grammy nomination. That’s dope. Once I win a Grammy then I think that’ll turn me up. ‘Cause it really wasn’t a co-sign, it was like working with ‘Ye. Once I win the Grammy then that’ll turn me up, but until then I’m still grinding and striving to get to the top.

SS: I was real happy to hear you on that record, man. For me it was the best song on the album and you set that sh*t off perfectly.

King L: Thanks, that’s what I’m saying, that certain love you get, that’s the love I’m talking about. You’re a guy that’s been rockin’ with me from the beginning and know I’m one of the most lyrical guys in the city. I really don’t get that light shined on me like that. The goofy guys get all the light. That type of love, that’s what I drive off of, what you just told me. That’s what I do it for.

SS: What’s next up for you?

King L: I’m in the studio every day working on anything that could possibly be for the album. Me and Katie Got Bandz, we’re working on a mixtape. I’m probably going to start working on a mixtape with my artist Leek.

SS: When will we hear the full-length album on Epic?

King L: I don’t know exactly. Like I said, I’m just working. I’m trying to force their hand. I’m trying to make as many moves as possible without Epic’s help so it can force their hand and they can get me out here like I’m supposed to be out here.

Download: King L – Drilluminati 2