Louis King: Rapper, Director, and Voice of the Masses
BY SARAH LA'BERGE
Louis King, a New York-born rapper, is making his mark on the film and music industry one political statement at a time. With music and documentaries that focus on current political issues, King’s work serves not only to please, but to educate.
King, who lived in New York for a year or two before migrating to Los Angeles, says he was raised in a music-oriented family, with a touring artist as his father and a manager/artist as his mother. King says, "I’m rich with music. Musical people have been placed in my life -- like my cousin was a sick, freestyle MC that I would rap with everyday, always." The musical bond King had with his family helped to fuel his passion for creating rap music.
Hip hop and rap aren't the only passions for King. Around 2013, King directed an international documentary series titled, "Hip Hop Lives: Japan" which generated over 1 million views on YouTube. The process behind making the series was a creative one for King. "It’s all a part of art for me," King genuinely tells Blended, "I think with directing, for me, it's about the vision, and believing it. Sometimes it might be, like, you have to put it together yourself, and sometimes you get great people on your team that help bring those visions to life."
King was actually signed as a director to Adolescent Content before he was signed anywhere as a musical artist. "I had mad interest in filming people out here [The East Coast]. I was the protégé of a big filmmaker out here, and had won some big festivals." King explains the film scene wasn’t as saturated when he was studying and creating films back in Philly. He was forced to ‘hustle’ and do all that he could to create a name for himself when working on films in Los Angeles, taking on any jobs and creative roles he could.
In fact, King worked as one of the directors on the first documentary of the "Bring Back Our Girls" movement, a call to justice for the kidnapping of young Nigerian school girls. He spoke passionately about an artist's role in the political world, saying, "It’s our responsibility to tell the stories that need to be told. Sometimes it’s not even us telling them, it’s about giving a platform to those that don’t have their own voice." For King, it is about "the movement, the artwork, and what we can accomplish with it."
He also tries to adapt the same mindset to creating music, and pays homage to the way in which Tupac used to tell stories and spread messages through his verses. King’s work in music represents his goals to raise awareness, with his release of songs and corresponding music videos touching on current political issues, such as “Growing Up Fast” featuring Outlawz. King drives the message home in the song's music video with intense visuals, including a scene that shows viewers a news headline that reads, "Breaking: No Justice for Blacks in America" with King sitting on a police car.
King spoke to Blended about the backlash that can be received from raw tracks and music videos such as "Growing Up Fast," saying: "To them, you telling the truth of what really is happening is offensive." King confidently added, "I’m gonna keep on offending you, because I’m gonna keep on defending my truth."
In reference to police brutality, King believes a lot of people don't want to talk about it. He openly explains how, as an artist, it’s easier to write about what the masses do, and to not write about the hard hitting, political issues in the world. King, however, doesn’t wish to take the easy route. He realizes the fight is not over, and plans to continue the conversation regarding the rights and fair treatment of POC in the United States.
"For me, I remember watching Kendrick Lamar 7-10 years back, and rooting for him because I felt like I was moving in this lane of positivity," he says, "I have to speak on something that’s real, or I feel like I can’t do this shit forever. I have to do something of substance."
Lead Image Credit: Victoria Testa / BLENDED