Mixtape Review-Tony by King Louie
Most subgenres start out as a descriptive insult. Swag rap is the rule not the exception. While it’s absolutely true that swag is a horribly annoying term that got beaten into the soil a few years ago the music is still pretty astonishing. Fans of the way hip hop should be pointed at this grouping of young stars making fun music and proclaimed in every form they could that they weren’t saying anything at all. A totally valid critique; the masterpiece of swag rap mixtapes Kush and OJ by Wiz Khalifa is a shocking piece of work. I came back to it recently and marveled at how utterly thin it really is while still satisfying. In a way that’s magical.
Rap music demands its master of ceremonies stand center stage and so his or her words are magnified and examined. To stand in that spotlight, not say anything and get the world excited about your music is utterly amazing.
King Louie feels like he fits more snugly into Swag Rap than Drill. All throughout Tony he’s eating space not filling it. While some rappers are trying to throw as many bars as they can he drifts into songs and eats measured beats like Pac-man digesting ghosts. He’s had this skill long before his scene stealing guest verse on Yeezus (Send It Up). This time is different because the songs hang so perfectly together.
The wall of disorienting bass Bobby Johnson throws on Day is made even more disturbing by the base hostility of the chorus/scream (“Make a N famous, put em on the news. He gon’ get a day. He gon’ Get a Day!!”). The anxiety in the strings Block on Da Trakk laces on G.O.D. is amplified by the terrifying whine of the chorus. Louie just seems to have this kind of instinctual intelligence. This is a dude who has put out lengthy mixtapes of off the top freestyles where half of them felt like songs that should be on an album.
So what is the draw? You know what Louie is rapping about; fine ladies and murder (I’m hoping in later projects he broadens via mixing content: enter King Louie and his murderous fine lady squad!). The churlish sneer King Louie has on Michael Jackson Money is normal in rap. You act absurdly annoyingly opulent and satisfied when talking about money. King Louie is like that all the time. When he talks about smoking haters it’s in the same Biff from Back 2 The Future laugh. He talks about shooting your shooters down the same way he says his dick needs a rest (both in Would You Believe It). That complete lack of dimensional fear and understanding makes him an engaging villain. What makes him such a breaking and bankable artist is the mad scientist style experimentation from track to track in terms of hooks. Compare the hooting and hollering on Day to the straight ahead crooning of Live & Die In Chicago.
If you find him annoying I totally get it. If you’re offended I have NO defense. To defend it would defeat the point. This is music from the most profane depths of the American psyche sometimes it’s a malevolent chant, other times its an insinuation to violence that feels too real for its own good. All I’m saying is that its good and I have not figured it all out yet.
stream or download Tony below: