DePaul student publicist bringing hip-hop "king" to throne
Published: Tuesday, May 22, 2012
Updated: Monday, August 27, 2012 16:08
“Shout out to the white boy at the Congress who knows my music,” tweeted King Louie about a year ago.
The up-and-coming Chicago artist is making huge waves on the hip-hop scene, even receiving a shout out from Kanye West on a recent track. The white boy in question was Phill Roche, a senior business management and marketing student at DePaul, who now knows a whole lot more than just Louie’s music.
“I met King Louie at a concert before he had any national media coverage,” said Roche. “After I left the show, I remember thinking that I should have gotten his contact information so my brother Tony could produce for him.”
When Roche arrived home to the Twitter mention, he replied simply, “that was me, let’s knock out a record.”
The Roche brothers arrived in the studio and actually did ‘knock out’ a track that day. After seeing some of the other work Roche had been doing for New York-based artist Kil Ripkin, Louie wanted him on his team. Yet according to Roche, before they did business they were friends.
“He invited me to his ‘Too Cool’ video shoot where he introduced me to his managers, Larro Wilson and then John Monopoly, who used to manage Kanye,” said Roche. “After that, I started working around the clock to get his music out there.”
It seems that he has definitely done his job. In the same week Roche was able to get Louie featured on MTV News and The Source, as well as a large feature in Forbes Magazine. Each accomplishment is a further breakthrough that began with the “Too Cool” video that was picked up by Pitchfork, according to King Louie.
“Good music is going to spread regardless of the marketing behind it, but teamwork makes the dream work,” said King Louie.
Roche was born in Seattle but graduated from high school in Boise, Idaho – not necessarily a breeding ground for aspiring hip-hop moguls – but his interest in the culture was largely influenced by his father, a Southside Chicago native.
“The first CD my dad bought me was by Notorious B.I.G and I spent my summers in Chicago visiting his family,” said Roche. “Then my brother won a beat contest with Mikkey Halsted and I got into the Chicago circle like that.”
According to Roche, his role as a publicist is a full-time job. Although he became involved with publicity by simply investigating music and networking with journalists, it has become much more than that.
“The first part of my day is researching new mixtapes and albums and looking into what magazines or news outlets they were featured in,” Roche said. “Then I’m looking to see which journalists posted the tape or did the review and I’m looking for shared contacts with them.”
Right now, Roche has a database with more than 10,000 music-related contacts, which might lead you to question the size of your own Rolodex. Although he is working around the clock to keep up with both publicity and school, he claims that his passion for the music and the artist make it all worthwhile.
“On a daily basis, I’m setting up interviews and sending out press schedules to my current contacts, or depending on the time, sending new contacts videos and songs,” said Roche.
It appears Roche’s talents aren’t only benefiting King Louie.
His brother Tony was recently mentioned in The Source, reviewing his very first track. Roche plans to continue to publicize for him in the future.
“I’m very critical of music for better or worse,” said Roche. “But King Louie and my brother are two projects that I’m very passionate about working on.”
King Louie’s label, Lawless Inc., is a newly formed Chicago record label that features Larro Wilson (Louie’s Manager) as its CEO. According to Louie, the label has received national coverage from BET to NBC.
“Lawless has a major label budget, and I am their primary artist,” said King Louie. The label is looking to expand but plans to target Chicago-based artists. “Right now the label is looking for any artist that is up next.”
Although Louie has plans to relocate to Los Angeles to record his next album, he anticipates spending a lot of time in Chicago.
After graduation, Roche is looking into the possibility of working with MTV for their summer coverage of the Chicago scene. With all of those contacts and experience, it’s safe to say this won’t be the last time we hear from Phill Roche.
UPDATE: King Louie earns deal with Sony:
Monday marked another huge step in King Louie’s rise to the throne. According to Roche, the up and coming hip-hop star signed a deal with Sony Records in Los Angeles over the weekend. While the explicit details of the deal have not been released yet, the deal marks a distinct move into the major leagues of the music industry.
“A lot of artists get ‘deals’ that basically amount to them getting fronted the money to produce an album, but they aren’t getting paid by the label,” said Roche, “This isn’t like that; this is a real record deal.” The deal will provide a link between his current label, Lawless Inc, and Sony/Epic records. The debut record with the label will be the long-awaited Dope and Shrimp album. A single from the album titled “Val-Venis” dropped Friday via the new partnership.
According to Louie, the title of the album comes from his experiences last summer.