The Hardest Working Hustler in Flint, Michigan

Louie Ray talks Still Grindin’ 4, Life in Flint, MI & Being a Real Hustler in a Game of Frauds

Taking a break from the insane mania of back to back H-Town celebrations with both Screw Week and Trae day, I made my way up the towering elegant structure of Downtown Houston’s Magnolia Hotel to the 21st floor corner suite to sit down with the Flint Michigan’s favorite hustler.

How’s it like being here in Houston for your stay? Are a lot of things different or the same?

Louie: Everything’s different. Cars, the streets, the buildings, clothes.

Don’t y’all have similar buildings and streets in Flint?

The biggest building we got would probably be maybe three floors under this one

You know I would think with Nestle out there and everything that there would be more money going into the city?

This is my personal opinion, but I don’t think there are enough resources out there. There aren’t any jobs out there either but there’s also not really a reason to because there aren’t really any people in Flint.

How’s the relationship between Flint and Detroit?

I don’t think they’re really entwined like that. Flint isn’t anything like Detroit. It’s almost like comparing Flint and Houston. Flint is almost like a little country town. Everybody knows each other, motherfuckers have cows in their backyard. Like it’s not the country but its damnear the country.

So about Flint do you deliver to listeners with your music?

Watch the video for “P.Y.C.O.” by Louie Ray from his brand new project Still Grindin’ 4

I feel like our music reminds me of how certain Florida rappers have this type of raw sound that makes you say “Damn, that motherfucker is too raw”. I get that with us in Flint. The people in Flint are just now able to do things like get their teeth done or get their ass done. Looking nice like that for real, you know? Motherfuckers can’t hide their flaws where I’m from so niggas don’t really hold nothing back. Like I’ll tell you the bad about me and what’s good about me in the same sentence.

People are just now starting to try and look nice for the block?

See, what’s so crazy is that I’m in the age bracket to where I can see why young niggas under 25 might think “I been see motherfuckers get they ass did or I been seen motherfucking getting big body.” I had the chance to be little when that shit wasn’t a thing, everywhere I go I now motherfuckers swole and stocky, bitches thick as hell. Like niggas just now going to the gym tryna look good for the summer. Niggas don’t really do that where I’m from, we tryna look good for our neighborhood and ain’t worried about the Internet. Flint was like a “Myspace” and “Facebook” kinda city. I’m not even on Facebook anymore because it’s so local.

What do you mean by that?

Like I’m on Instagram but not on Facebook. If you’re on Facebook in Flint you gonna be on that bitch arguing and beefing. Somebody got something to say about you, you’ll see every comment. So I get on Instagram because no one from my city is on Instagram. I feel like I touch more people because I end up seeing more and doing more and reaching people who experience things that I’m not even used to.

Is it real personal like that in Flint?

Man the same niggas you went to church with are the same niggas that’ll kill you.

Is Flint similar to other cities in Hip Hop that might function like a double edged sword for its artists? Almost like you get your success and put on for your city but the hate from people in the city might function like a trap?

It’s definitely like that but it’s about what you bring too because I don’t bring that attitude to the game. I’m not tryna be tough I don’t try to talk shit to niggas. I really don’t give a fuck about people like that. I’m more of a hustler, I’m more on the money side. The niggas who be on that come with aggression, talk crazy and be on wild stuff so you’re gonna bring that type of attention. I bring niggas who trynna get some money. Niggas know we ain’t on that, “Louie ain’t on that”. If you come up on me you really tryna take it there. You ain’t just pulling up on me to flash guns. We got guns tryna protect what we got. We don’t got no opps, know what I’m saying? Niggas put they self in that position.

So even though Flint can be somewhat of a trap for people you’ve put yourself in position to where people know they have know reason to play with you?

I feel like I’m comfortable walking down Saginaw, the biggest street in my city, us three alone, and I don’t think no niggas would try me.

That’s a good type of security to have in your city.

You gotta fuck with your city. Niggas be young and dumb too, but I been rolling for a minute. I know how to roll with shit. I don’t have to get mad at every little thing. 

Who are some other artists that you feel comfortable with as you rise in this pocket of Hip Hop you’re in?

Solid dudes I met are like Lou Gram from Detroit, solid artist, solid dude. Never rubbed me no type of way ever. Lil Yachty is another person. Trae the Truth of course, that’s big homie for real man. We’ve talked to Moneybagg Yo recently over some business deals and we appreciate someone like that because those are the kind of people we need support from. I actually fuck with bro heavy, I been jamming with him for a minute too so he really cool people too me cause people don’t know he don’t even really fuck with niggas like that.

You know you kinda remind me of Freddie Gibbs?

I met that nigga before too. You know what’s so crazy? My people from Gary [Indiana] too.

Y’all might be cousins, not gonna lie.

Bro, I probably am cousins with him. I haven’t had the chance to venture out and meet my family outside of Flint but I do have cousins in Gary, Indiana.

Tell me about meeting Freddie Gibbs?

We were at Rolling Loud or South by Southwest, I think? It was a festival outside in Texas. I net him and Mo3, rest in peace to bro. I haven’t really met too many like influential rappers like that yet, I’ve mostly been fucking with underground artists.

Yeah I can see that when I look at your music, one of my favorite of yours is “Nobody Proud” ft YN Jay.

Oh yeah the video with the cartoon.

Yeah I don’t know how you did that but that studio y’all hit up for the animation really embodied every lyric of that song. I really like that creativity because it shows a different level of creativity outside of what’s saturating the market.

YN Jay & Louie Ray appear on Genius’s “Verified at Home” for their viral song on TikTok “Coochie”

The picture we’re trying to paint is bigger than that because a motherfucker from a bigger city might be trying to flex, talking about having the most money or the most bodies. Where we’re from you’re already known. People know everything about you so all you gotta do is rap. I can give them my real life where I’m from cause that’s what they’re looking for. They’re not looking for the big dog, Big Dog already moved on in life. I feel like its easier to thrive when I just talk about normal shit. I can say anything and if its some real shit niggas gonna be rocking with it if they feeling it.

Niggas will rap about niggas they don’t have or bitches they don’t have.

People would call it capping. I’d call it something else. I don’t know what to call it, its like you entertaining.

Haha man you took the words right out my [redacted] mouth. I was just about to say people try to be entertainers.

Cause you talking about shit that’s damnear near impossible cause they want people to see they living they best life. “I’m fucking the baddest hoes, I’m getting money, I’m fucking for free; You not bruh”

Meeting Freddie Gibbs and Trae the Truth, two real lyricist, how does that make you feel about the trajectory of your career.

It makes me feel like I’m in the right box as far as my future goes. As far as growing and standing on firm, different businesses. I feel like I’m the poster child in the sense that anybody could be like me if that want too. You don’t have to be shooting guns and beefing over nothing, you can be regular. It’s enough money for everybody. New niggas not even trapping for real so it ain’t the money.

So its the ego?

Niggas be beefing about the pussy and shit over a random girl. That shit ain’t going anywhere. I’m not no fool over the money or the women so I won’t crash out. I never feel sorry for no nigga when they do it to themself.

How old are you if you don’t mind me asking?

I’m 29. I’m not old but I’m older. I’m not going to rap about what I don’t have. I like to be able to show you what I don’t have. I’m not gonna rap about having $20,000 if I ain’t got it on me, I need to be able to pull that out at any moment if Imma have that in my lyrics.

Does a lot of that play into Flint being so isolated and you having to be grounded in your own personal reality?

Yeah man, I gotta see niggas where I’m from. Out here, you might never see the rappers out here unless they’re just loose like that. We can’t just hide and pop out at night; we gon get seen today. Somebody seeing me.

Going back to Trae and the SUC, they were known for being local figures that you would see around the city. Like it wouldn’t be out of the ordinary to see Z-Ro at Wal Mart where I’m from.

You see them and they out there. They not just tryna be a “rapper” or on some tough man shit.

A lot of time they’ll have people who are from a certain city and used that as part of their personality without having a desired to live in or contribute to their city. Some people even have aspirations to leave their city.

It depends on where you are in life sometimes too. Can you make it outside your city? Once you have real paper you can make it anywhere. You don’t always have to leave though but its different stroke for different folks. If I ever got like “Lil Baby” big or as big as Trae the Truth even though I wasn’t there to witness how big he got in his prime, a millionaire, I probably would move. We don’t know any millionaires in Flint, if we did the nigga would probably wear a suit.

You would dip out?

Yeah, if became a real millionaire it would be smart for me to be there because who’s gonna support the businesses we make? I could build three restaurants but who’s gonna eat? Motherfuckers can’t even afford to eat out.

Saginaw Street in Downtown Flint, MI

Something else I wanted to get into, how does the water crisis situation affect the residents of Flint?

Really it just makes you realize that anything can happen and you just might have to make the most of it. So much is normalized that everyone realizes that you really gotta do what you gotta do out here.

Shout out to Amariyanna Copeny who was raising money in the city for the water too.

That shows how you can do something in the city and if it’s positive, the whole city would support you. But if its negative, then the whole city will know too

Tell me about your new project, Still Grinding 4.

I think its one of my best projects to date. I gave people the style my fanbase is used to but still the sound and direction my fans are used to. I haven’t always been on this type of flow. I try to really make music, harmonize and stuff, I’m not always wanting to rap.

Less like a rapper more like an artist.

I gave them all that in there. The feedback has been good too, I haven’t really had any help from anyone bigger than myself, it’s mostly just been support from my peers. Its still been good though but I know for a fact that I need more of a reach. Bigger platforms, getting booked on arena shows. Flint isn’t like Detroit. They’re straight even though I can’t speak on what they do but like we don’t get brought out on tours and stuff like that.

Honestly we could’ve continued speaking with Louie Ray and his team for hours but we had to let him get ready for his show that night at SPACE. It was refreshing to have a chance to sit down with an artist so grounded in their actually life yet still find such success at a high level.

Be sure to download Still Grinding 4 The full hour long interview will be available soon on Haus of Lean’s podcast and video channels.

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