“Like 5 AM I’m on a rise, found my spaceship and you know I’m ‘bout to ride” – fresh lines and creative freestyles make out the base of Cousin Louie’s single “Rockin Wit Tha Best”. In a half-striped, half-flowered shirt and sunglasses, the rapper born in LA, California, brings in his attitude in the dark streets of Salt Lake City, UT, inside of parking spaces and buildings. The song itself impresses with a mix of hard beats underlined with dreamy sound effects.
While Louie already has shown some spaced out sounds in his 2019 released EP “Midnight Recordings”, where he provided playful beats in songs like “Golden State of Mind” and “Don’t Wear a Cape No More”, his free-spirited hip hop content is turned up a notch when “Rockin Wit Tha Best” rolled down the carpet as the first single of his second project and full 12-track album “Catch Me If You Can”, released in early 2022. His playful side, therefore, is also shown in video form, already shown in “Golden State of Mind” where he wiggles around with the camera in sunny LA woods in 2020, and later in 2021s video for “Rockin Wit Tha Best”, in the nighttime inside parking spaces around Salt Lake City.
The album’s title, a nod to the 2002 film of the same name, doesn’t only speak for the album’s content but also connects with Cousin Louie’s own path in his life. Though born in LA, he lived in many places throughout the country, often relocating with his mother and older brother. The base of Louie’s household, however, was music – playing the latest and greatest radio hits on a stereo with everyone in the family singing and rapping together. But it wasn’t until middle school in East St. Louis, Illinois, when the year 2000 brought up unique artists like Nelly and the St. Lunatics as opening acts from the city, setting a new template for success in the rap game in that era. It made Louie recognize the power of being a unique artist, and after graduating from law school years later, found himself trying his own hand in rap and began forging his own path to be respected among his predecessors and peers. Although described by Louie himself as ‘being a very dark time in life’, and facing adversity in many life areas, it inspired him in his own words to “having to decide that I deserved more in life and that I was not going to stop working for what I wanted!”
Now choosing his path to be a rap artist, his original approach was writing raps over instrumentals, back then to cope with the pressure to succeed in sports and school, later producing beats in workstation program GarageBand, recording song ideas, and sharing them with friends. When ideas turned to singles and singles into albums, it brought Louie’s talent to the next level by teaching himself how to engineer through YouTube, later Berkeley College of Music Online, ultimately taking complete creative control in the entire process: “My attention to detail with my work didn’t lend well to working in a professional studio where jr. engineers charge $300 plus dollars an hour for mixing and mastering, so I just had to do the research on my own.”
Now, with “Catch Me If You Can” out on streaming platforms, Cousin Louie combines his past, present, and future, and showcases both the good and ugly parts of life. Either uplifting and fun (“Loud Talk”) or dark and dusky (“Maison No. 9”), the album makes places for the in-between, too. Like sounds of a basketball dribbling and the squeaking of rubber shoes in “Young Bull” declaring tough roads in figurative speech (“I’m just another young bull making my way”) that he also defines with hard emotions and trap sounds in “Rowdy”. Then, almost sad moments in “Long Summer” are balanced out with out-of-the-ordinary ringing sounds and a high-pitched voice in “We Ain’t Gone Stop Now”, and for old school fans brings in some classic hip hop beats in “Oh Well” to the side. To stir the pot, the lead single “Rockin Wit Tha Best” acts as the introduction of the album, combining hard beats and chill sounds in one, perfect to turn the bass on. Louie, therefore, has upped the ante with its leading- and also second single “Maison No. 9”, spending more than a year and a half to create the project, as he felt that it’s a promising second effort and another milestone on the journey to the top. Also active in the follow-up process on his third album currently, planning more upcoming singles by the spring of 2022.
Below, Cousin Louie speaks with The Urban Twist about his single “Rockin Wit Tha Best” and his album “Catch Me If You Can”, his inspirations, and lyrical contents of his music.
First and foremost, how did you come up with your stage name Cousin Louie?
It was a producer tag I sampled from “I Wanna Be Like You” by Louis Prima when I first started making beats. Then I wrote my first verse for a song called “Doin’ My Thang” and I just used the tag name as my rap moniker.
You originally studied Law and made music on the side. What inspired you to become a full-time artist?
The music always has been the main inspiration for me. I have always been a huge fan of all kinds of music and genres so it just naturally kind of started happening. I was listening to a lot of really lyrical rappers like Yelawolf, OutKast, 2 Chainz, Eminem, and it inspired me to start writing verses towards the end of my law program. Then I went and saw Post Malone while he was on his Stoney Tour and I knew that I needed to start making my own music because hip hop was evolving in a way that I could see myself creating and so I started making beats and learning to play guitar after that show in 2017.
When you mentioned having a dark time in your life, are you referring to the struggle of becoming an artist in general or people who try to block your way?
It was a dark time for me when I first started doing music in 2017 because I was dealing with a lot of mixed emotions having just graduated from law school, and I just started doing music, all while getting divorced from my wife after three years of marriage. The highs and lows were so extreme it was difficult to not feel sort of lossed and numb, which is not who I am as a person. I’ve always been a very optimistic person all my life and I always have believed I could do anything is set my mind to, so watching my life go through so many big changes it left me disillusioned and feeling hopeless about my future.
This year you released your newest record “Catch Me If You Can”. The title reminds of the 2002 movie with the same title starring Tom Hanks and Leonardo DiCaprio. Was that intentional?
Yea, the movie is one of my favorites because it’s based on a true story and knowing that was always inspiring to me that this man had really carved his own path in life. I respect that.
“Rockin Wit Tha Best” is chosen as the first single. The first 20 seconds remind of J-Kwon’s “Tipsy”, then afterwards it plays around hard beats with dreamy tones. What is the actual idea behind the song?
The song is my declaration that I am going to be one of the greats in music, entertainment, and culture, and the song will stand as a record of me making that statement.
You also released a music video for the song in November 2021. There, you are rapping inside of parking spaces. Can you tell me more about the concept of the video?
I wanted to showcase Salt Lake City where we shot the video. It’s a cool place that I have really come to appreciate and I wanted to use the video as a medium to highlight some unique locations.
Outside of the main single, the album offers different tunes and emotional vibes. For example, “Loud Talk” sounds uplifting, uptempo, and fun, though “Maison No. 9”, in comparison is dark and has a dusky sound. Did you try to bring in a mixture of feelings and sounds for the album?
Yea, all the songs on the album are really just different emotions I went through for the last year and a half. I always start songs I create by making the beat so because of my process I always feel some emotion before I start writing and my album usually ends up with a whole array of vibes and emotions.
In one other track from the LP, “We Ain’t Gone Stop Now”, the song reminds of a DMX record, and on one point you’re also rapping in fast forward mode like Eminem. Would you say, some tracks are indeed inspired by other rap artists, or is it a coincidence?
I wouldn’t compare myself to the rap god lol but I definitely came up listening to crazy emcees like Em and Busta, and Big Boi, so I can’t help but wanna go in with the delivery sometimes just to pay homage to the great ones.
Lyric-wise, I’m sensing you are trying to tell a story as well. Like in “Long Summer”, it’s like an open book, the dark past of a relationship, rapping “I’m so sick ‘cause I can’t get over things”. How did the writing process go and is it hard to share personal stuff?
Yea, most definitely I am trying to storytell in my music. I believe that is the most memorable music from an artist so I definitely try to incorporate that in my work. My writing process varies from song to song though sometimes I’ll write everything in one session and other times it will take months of re-writes to get a song done.
What would you say is personally your own favorite song from the album and why?
My favorite song is “Rockin Wit Tha Best” because I feel like it’s a great song and the production and mix and mastering that I did was my best execution of those elements compared to any other song on the album.
Last but not least, what else can we expect from Cousin Louie this year?
I have a new single called “Pray For Me” coming out in April and the new album is in progress, and I’m projecting a 2022 release date.
“Catch Me If You Can” is out now on all digital platforms. You can listen to the album on Spotify here.
The single “Rockin Wit Tha Best” you can listen here.
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