On his latest solo project 001: Experiments, Lou Phelps is not just standing out. He is having fun at it. The Montreal native has been here before. Phelps and his brother, Kaytranada, once comprised the hip hop duo The Celestics, releasing Supreme Laziness back in 2014. He was known then as Louie P. And while Kaytranada remains involved in Experiments as the producer of several tracks, Phelps takes the main stage. Make no mistake — this is his album.
Phelps is a confident and low-key braggadocious artist. Why should he bother being humble when his light-hearted rhythms and rhymes show that he is as skilled as he boasts. Often, you will find yourself chuckling along to his lines and references as he playfully raps to funky instrumentals and bass-heavy beats.
Though this album lacks a unifying theme, it remains coherent and connected. Phelps starts Experiments with “TELL ME,” a ballad in which he tries to both woo a romantic interest and gauge their desires. On “Average,” however, Phelps is on a vendetta against basic rappers. He spits vitriol, “A lot of average niggas where I’m from / Had to stand off from all of them / You say you cool but you average / Can’t fuck with basic bitches y’all don’t have the total package.” This sentiment sounds familiar. In “Charles Barkley,” a track off of Supreme Laziness, he explores similar ideas: “How can, all these niggas these days are tryna be trill / They should focus on how to be real.” In these moments, where we see the development of rhythmic and lyrical exploration, it is clear that the distinct voice and perspective of Phelps holds Experiments together.
But Phelps is by no means the lone voice on Experiments. In an attempt to cultivate a Montreal sound, he enlists the help from other hometown artists. KALLITECHNIS throws amazing vocals unto “Average” and CJ Flemings assists with bars on “My Forte.” Other notable features include Innanet James on “What time is it?” and Bishop Nehru on “LAST CALL.”
Experiments shows that Phelps is comfortable with his identity as an artist. In an interview with Sarah Jay of Hiphopcanada.com, he says, “It’s sort of cringe-worthy when I see blogs posting my music with a title like ‘Kaytranada’s little brother raps!’ But I don’t sweat it. In the end, if you make good music, the people will like it.” And with Experiments, Lou Phelps has made good music.