It's a tale of two rappers.
King Louie and K-Town native Mikey Dollaz offer parallel stories of two artists in Chicago. Louie is from the South Side, Mikey is from the West Side. Both carry the torch for Chicago street rap. And both have suffered from the same street that helped inspire their music, whether a target of violence or target of law enforcement. King Louie was the first drill artist, Mikey Dollaz came in towards the end of the wave, one of many artists seeking to follow his success. King Louie’s gone national, Mikey Dollaz is still working on it; his music improves drastically with each release, but the viral and semi-voyeuristic nature of certain listeners meant that over time only true fans have continued tuning in. As vocalists, they share an admirable disregard for tradition; no boom-bap rhymes to be found here. King Louie’s clipped drawl since Tony purrs, and Mikey Dollaz has been barking his raps since the beginning (“BOW BOW”).
Two rappers whose paths have both been wrapped in the smoke of music, business and life. Maybe it's because of labels looking for the “next big thing”, but the money and hype came and went for a lot of performers in the sea of drill the city found itself floating in a few years back. A shame, because the talent was, and still is, there. What the rappers from the movement lacked in technical prowess, they made up for in creativity, atmosphere and honesty. It's music of grit, of gangways, of skeleton blocks’ and vacant lots. That music painted a painfully aware picture of the city of the Chicago and all its lumps, so while critics were inevitable the fans were too. And while there’s definitely room for disappointment in what happened to that drill class, we have reason to be positive because artists like King Louie and Mikey Dollaz have been pushing the movement forward. Mutual relationships with DGainz, who helped Dollaz with his first breakthrough video “All I Know Is Drill”, resulted in a King Louie cosign of the up-and-coming artist. From there they started creating together, which brings us to this point.
If you had to go purely off their music, you’d probably guess that King Louie and Mikey Dollaz don’t make for the most upbeat pair; as individuals, both rappers maintain a dark but real focus on life struggles. Impressively, King Louie is still shining a light on the grime even as he finds commercial success. Mikey Dollaz has likely deliberated over a similar conflict of accessibility of sound, authenticity versus marketability. So here's the kicker; turns out when King Louie and Mikey Dollaz get together things aren’t quite as serious as they were before. The music is still real, still authentic, but a lot of this is a refreshing blend of drill and party music. There's a sense of fun, which coming out of their era in Chicago music isn't always the case. Moreover, there is experimentation; it’s clear from listening to their tracks together that when these guys are collabing in the studio, the wheels start turning and something clicks.
So now we come to the past and present of King Louie and Mikey Dollaz collaborations, which you’ll find above. Most recently in the present category is “Forever Be Dat Guy”, produced by EDM mainstay Salva. Coming out just last week, the track samples Art of Noise’s eery “Moments In Love” and smashes together the surprisingly compatible worlds of dance music and Chicago rap. At almost 60,000 Soundcloud views in 7 days, it may be Mikey Dollaz biggest success story to date. Moreover, it caters to both hip-hop heads and the EDM crowd, and crossover success is nothing to scoff at. As for the future? Mikey Dollaz’ project Picture Me Rollin’ is tentatively slated for February 19. If “Forever Be Dat Guy” is any indication, Dollaz will be straying off the beaten path as memorable artists do. Don’t be surprised when King Louie shows up.