Rarity Sniper Spotlight with Louis King from Gala Music

Credit: Gala Music

It’s not every day you come across a new album with guest appearances from Snoop Dogg, Wiz Khalifa, Royce 5’9’’, Ab-Soul, Leven Kali, and more. But that is exactly what Los Angeles poet and rapper Louis King has managed to create with ‘Famous in the Metaverse’ — a new Web3 album currently available exclusively on Gala Music.

Last week, I was lucky enough to catch up with the hip-hop artist and innovator to discuss his career, what Web3 can do for musicians, and the sound he’s created by bringing together such an impressive roster of talented musicians for his latest album. Here it is.

The following interview has been edited for concision and clarity.

I’ve listened to a lot of your music the past couple of weeks and I’m your newest fan. So, it’s great to talk with you. How did you get involved in making music?

I come from a family of musicians, storytellers, and innovators. My dad is from West Africa, and he came with the National Ensemble of Nigeria to America. My mom is a musician as well as an entrepreneur and filmmaker.

They created a space called the Yoruba House, which was the first African drum and dance space in Los Angeles. African Drums are what I started playing first.

And how did you transition into making hip-hop music?

In music, rhythm is so important, specifically in hip-hop. But African drums are about rhythm. There are all these rhythms that are unorthodox patterns, except in rap and hip-hop music, those rhythm patterns and those complexities are what make hip-hop dope. With African drumming, how you use your hands, is like the syncopation while you’re rapping.

When you look at the structure of music, an average song has about eight bars of a verse in most pop music. But hip-hop songs came along and became the pop culture, but we had 16 bar verses, and that’s because we could say twice as much in that eight-bar space. It wasn’t that we doubled the space for the duration of the verse, but we could say twice as much as they did within each bar.

So, when it comes to African drumming, we’re drumming at that hip-hop pace. Our heritage is rich, so that kind of pace, that style — it didn’t start with hip-hop — many of those rhythms came from Africa. 

Shortly after my parents African drum center Yoruba House was burnt down in a fire, hip-hop became my primary tool of musical expression. I was on the West Coast, and I was listening to lots of Dre, Snoop, Pac — and the music was a place where I could gather my thoughts and tell my story. So, for me hip-hop came as a result of the African drums mixed with the experience of growing up in LA.

Let’s talk a little bit about Web3 and Web3 music. What inspired you to enter this space?

I was first introduced to the Web3 Music space by Brandon “Cyrano” Tatum and Leila Steinberg. I wanted to be apart of the next big thing in music and tech; which I believe is Web3 Music. I have been selling Music NFT’s on the blockchain since the early days of Gala Music and eventually I became the first independent artist on the platform to sell out four NFT drops.

After selling out my premier collection, I wanted to shine a light for others to follow so I brought ten of the most iconic rap stars together to create a star studded lineup Web3 Music has never seen before on one project (Famous in the Metaverse).

Web3 can be the marketplace for music artists who never intended to stay within the traditional boundaries of the music business.  Web3 Music is a sanctuary for artists where they can thrive by building direct relationships with the fans who support their journey. 

That leads to my next question. There’s a long history of musicians getting scammed or used by the industry. What do you think NFTs and Web3 can do for artists, particularly musicians?

I think that Web3 is an opportunity for artists to take ownership in a way that we have not been able to occupy in Web2 spaces. We can talk about streaming and the music entertainment industry and how it was never built to honor artists.

We can also discuss many superstars throughout history who were not in control of the money, and then we can dive deeper into race relations in this country specifically. We became world renown in music before we had even liberated our own freedom, so for a lot of people, they never had a shot of having ownership in the business of music and entertainment.

I have a vision that Web3 can be a space for ALL of us. 

I’ve always found it mind-boggling what Spotify pays artists, and also in other industries like writing, authors make a very small percentage of royalties from their own work. It seems artists have no leverage and no power, and yet they are the ones that are generating the art — there’s no product without the artist.

We just want a seat at the table. You just have to be at the table for the discussion, and I think Web3 creates that opportunity for artists.

You’re never going to be at the table of the discussion in regards to how much you get paid from DSP’s. But you can be in the conversation of Web3 and decide how much you sell your song for, how many units there are, and what song you want to release. As an independent artist, I’m able to use my experience in Web3 music as leverage from an entrepreneurial standpoint. I am utilizing my relationships and influence to impact the greater masses empowering artists and fans to learn about the Web3 music space. 

Artists in U.S. often talk about “making it.” To make it in the industry, it seems you either have to blow up completely or remain a struggling artist. I wonder if Web3 can create a space for a “middle class” artist, or an artist who can make a living without being Taylor Swift or Snoop Dogg. Do you think more artists can make a living from their work with Web3 because they can receive fairer royalties?

Absolutely. I think there can be a middle class of artists. You’ve never met a lawyer or a nurse or a doctor and assumed that just because you’ve never heard of them, they aren’t legitimate. You know what I mean? It doesn’t even matter if you have heard of them or not. They are a doctor. They are a nurse. They are a lawyer, so they’ve earned their title.

But when you’re an artist, it’s just low until it goes. There are no steady promotions. You may go up, and then come back down, and then go up. So, you have to create the progress points within your own mind as you move toward your destination.

I look at Web3 as a place where we can create an entire economy for artists, which I think we are doing. 

I also think that the irony of my project ‘Famous in the Metaverse’ is that you can also be a very successful artist in this space and not known in Web2. However, there are some Web3 artists that are single-handedly competing with all the major companies in Web3. That represents what the future can become. Individuals will not only compete with the corporate monster sponsored artists but will also be able to compete with the corporate monsters themselves. And they’ll be able to do that without being the most famous artist.

This album, ‘Famous in the Metaverse,’ has features from Snoop Dogg, Royce 5’9’’, Wiz Khalifa and others. That’s impressive. So, what’s the sound like?

I wanted the sound to be in the range of what Web3 represents — new, exciting, futuristic, but also nostalgic. Lots of hip-hop legacy; iconic artists. The tracks are all interwoven sonically and are inspired by the Metaverse in the sense of what Web3 Music can be.

It’s not about the clout. It’s about who are you behind the mask. Who are you gonna be after your moment? What purpose are you here for? What do you have to say? Sure, we want money, jewelry, cars. We want to be successful. But what are we really here for? Who are we really here to become? And what are we here to create?

Who is Louis King? “You may never have heard of him, but I think he’s Famous in the Metaverse.” And we want to lift up people who are going to bring something positive and groundbreaking to the experience, so that’s what we set out to do on this project. 

We’re here to lift the people up and give them an incentive to do better; that’s something we have the ability to do in Web3 Music that will make the world a better place. 

Final Thoughts

Louis King’s album ‘Famous in the Metaverse’ is available one track at a time on Gala Music over the next several weeks — and some of the tracks have already sold out. There are also utilities tied to the individual tracks which King has developed himself with a personal touch, including handwritten poems and verses on paper.

When King is not on the stage, he spends his days teaching Poetry, Music and Emotional Literacy in schools, prisons and community spaces with the nonprofit Aim4theHeart.org

As a hip-hop fan myself and an obvious proponent of Web3, I think this is one of the most exciting Web3 Music projects to date. When I asked King if he plans to tour ‘Famous in the Metaverse,’ he was optimistic of the possibility. If he can pull that off, considering the line-up and the dynamic skills of King himself, it would certainly be a show to look forward to.

To find out more about Louis King and ‘Famous in the Metaverse,’ you can visit Gala Music.

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