All Driller No Filler: King Louie’s ‘Drilluminati 3’

The God of Drill returns to claim his throne.
By    June 22, 2015


Dean Van Nguyen is first in last out

Chicago drill sledgehammered its way into the throne room of popular modern hip-hop sounds in 2012. It happened partly because its intimidating, unforgiving, concrete synths and grim autotune  just banged harder than anything else at the time — but it also happened because its ground-level depiction of Chicago gang culture was so captivating.

Three years on though and it feels more and more like drill was a flash, which shouldn’t surprise us given the trend was largely built around incredibly young rappers burdened with many of the troubles listeners found so thrilling. Chief Keef didn’t have the discipline to be the genre’s flag bearer. Lil Reese has all but disappeared under the weight of an ever-growing charge sheet. There’s Lil Herb, but he’s been operating with a level of lyricism that seems out of step with the rest of the genre, while Lil Durk recently made the leap to Def Jam, cutting an album that left him with much to prove.

Then there’s King Louie, without whom drill might never have been a thing. He started releasing music as far back as 2007, and since brushing off the mainstream in 2013, when Kanye tapped him up for a verse on his genre-jacking industrial rap classic Yeezus, the staunch Chi-Town loyalist has quietly gone about his business, making lean, chiselled rap music with a hard-edged realism and a lack of pretension. Drilluminati 3: God of Drill regenerates everything that made Chicago  interesting three years ago–a functional but undeniably enjoyable set of short bars, crushing drums and skyscraping keys. King L hits expected reference points like money, drugs and sex on rough bangers “Johnny Tapia” and “Throw Yo Sets Up,” while highpoints “Cliqued Up” and “Where I Come From” offer gritty tales of survival:

“Where I come from niggas shoot at the police / Watch what you say or you’ll get shot in the face /
Where I come from bitch it’s kill or be killed,” he raps on the latter.

At 27, Louie is the scene’s elder statesman, and it’s perhaps a more methodical streak that sets him apart from his more untamed peers. In any case, there’s not too many people making drill music this well.

We rely on your support to keep POW alive. Please take a second to donate on Patreon!