Chief Keef still releases strong projects, but since he was fired from Interscope, the individual representing the best the dirtiest side of Chicago's street rap, in 2014, is King Louie, the very pioneer of the drill movement. He did it in the early summer with Tony, a release many acknowledge as his very best to date. And actually, it is one of his most consistent; one of his most monochromatic as well, since, as alluded with the cover art, it uses one single color only: the black one.


Lawless Inc. :: 2014 :: download mixtape

Drill has often been presented as the Chicagoan take on Atlanta's own trap music. Tony, though, nuances this statement. It has its own strong features. Some tracks are shimmering and relentless, they are full of bombastic synthesizers, like the great "Sheesh", "Till I Met Selena" or the scary "G.O.D.". Or, still in the Atlanta way, King Louie delivers some tracks full of Auto-Tune, on "Michael Jackson Money", exactly as he did, in a much more systematic way, on last year's Jeep Music mixtape. These, however, are not the most memorable moments on Tony.

The best tracks are slow, swampy and desperate ones: the remarkable "B.O.N.", at the beginning of the mixtape, or later on "Difference", with its heavy synthesizers and the hook from Slitta, the sober "God & King" with Chi Hoover, and "Would You Believe It". And with its saturated bass, the cynical "Day" is even more unsettling. Though humor has a place on this mixtape – on "Fuck Nigga", on "Why They Hating on Me" – the tone is pessimistic and subdued. It feels colder and more northern than the exalted gangsta rap of King Louie's southern peers.

If only one track should be remembered, though, this is "Live & Die in Chicago". Let's state it simply: this is not only the masterpiece of the mixtape, but one of the best rap song released this year, period. It doesn't require much, though: just a few piano key, a few shouts and onomatopoeias, and a diction which, from the beginning to the end, stays exactly the same. King Louie doesn't need more to talk about his city and to expose his love/hate relationship with the "murder capi' of America". By the end of the song, King Louie says "I'm the heart of Chicago". He is right, indeed. In 2014, Louie le Grand is exactly that: he is the high king of Chiraq.

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