Lou Phelps came to Calgary and performed one of the best sets of Sled Island 2017
Calgary, AB – This last week the annual Sled Island music festival took over Calgary for a week of music and live performances from local, national, and international up-and-coming and underground artists.
Because Sled Island has a mandate to give shine to the underground artists, we always see a few Canadian rappers slotted on the bill. This year the festival got Lou Phelps to (finally) come out west to perform, and it was one of the best sets of the whole festival.
Lou Phelps is an experimental Montreal rapper who just dropped one of the best EPs of 2017, his debut solo project 001: Experiments. The project marks a different direction for Lou, who’s spent an unfortunate amount of time in the shadows of his brother Kaytranada.
Lou came up as the rapping half of The Celestics duo with Kaytranada. But then Kaytranada blew up and everyone started just referring to Lou as “Kaytranada’s little brother”, instead of recognizing that Lou actually has his own brand of artistry.
001: Experiments makes that distinction though. Even though the project was executive produced by Kaytranada, it effortlessly glides between different flows, different beats, different feels, and a heavy dose of self-deprecation.
Photo by Sarah Jay
Lou took the stage just before midnight and had his DJ start with a DJ set that included everything from Michael Jackson’s “Rock With You” to Goldlink and Ciscero’s “Fall In Love.” Eventually Lou took the stage and kicked things off with the throwback cut “Uptempo” from The Celestics’ Supreme Laziness album.
Guaranteed most of the people in attendance at the show had heard Kaytranada’s 99.9% album and could list off their top 5 all-time favourite Kaytranada cuts. And maybe they’d even listened to Supreme Laziness. But I doubt a lot of them had taken the time to listen to 001: Experiments in its entirety. But the room packed out for Lou regardless (and actually hit its capacity later on in the night).
One of the best parts of the night was Lou’s performance of “What Time Is It?” which is Lou’s favourite track off the EP, and is also pretty much peak Lou Phelps. Obviously the track is hype AF. But it’s also hilarious because it’s an anecdotal rap about Lou sneaking out of his mama’s house to go to a house party, and then getting a call from Innanet James (who is featured on the second verse on the song).
And through it all Lou is rapping about putting on his nicest shoes, and thinking about bumping and grinding with a female… But also like… how he’s got dirty dishes in the sink and is getting missed calls from his mama, who probably wants him to get his ass home. The great thing about that track is how easy it is to pick up on the hook. Which also means it’s a great live performance track. It goes back-and-forth with the audience: “What time is it? / I don’t care!” Crowds live for that kind of question-and-answer stuff with performers.
The thing that’s so dope about where Lou’s at is that he’s lost a lot of his inhibitions. He’s not longer trying to make the Kaytranada style tracks that defined The Celestics. And he’s also definitely not trying to flex or floss. He’s just Lou. And people vibe with that; relatable millennial rap about having to pay rent, sneaking out to house parties, and being unapologetically “average”.
Twitter: @LoU_pHELPS | @sledisland