Pretty Lou Celebrates 25 Years in the Music Industry
Written by: Julz Mancini
Becoming known as one of the biggest voices in New York City, Pretty Lou was a natural crowd pleaser from the beginning of his career. Learning and mastering his craft was imperative as he climbed the ladder in the music industry. Many of the artists, DJs, and radio personalities, whether underground or mainstream, look at Pretty Lou as an inspiration and blueprint to success. When individuals come across a highly successful professional in the business, they typically look at their present status forgetting to reflect on their journey in which helped mold them into the prominent asset they are today. Having the honor of remaining a relevant talent in the industry for twenty five years proves that Pretty Lou has earned every accolade he has accomplished.
Growing up in New York, the “mecca of hip hop”, as Pretty Lou described it, developed his captivation for music. Witnessing artists and DJs control a crowd lured Pretty Lou into his passion in which catapulted his drive and determination to be one of the most sought after people in the industry. During my interview with Pretty Lou he stated, “I didn’t want to become king in another state”, expressing that he had his heart set on remaining in New York City while striving to be recognized for his talent. New York City is a cut-throat area where many struggle to obtain recognition. However, this was not the case for Pretty Lou. He worked diligently on developing himself and creating his own lane.
Pretty Lou recalls having a phone conversation with a girl during his teen years, “What is it about my voice that you love so much?” he asked. “I just love the raspiness, the deepness of your voice. I love hearing it. You know Lou, you ever thought about doing radio in the future?” she expressed. It was after this conversation when Pretty Lou realized this was his niche. Becoming the host of “Front Stage Radio” introduced Pretty Lou to a plethora of talented artists, co-hosts, and DJs in which further enhanced his growth as a personality. With a seven year run, Pretty Lou continued to build his buzz throughout New York City, allowing him to build his foundation and accomplish anything he set his mind to.
He soon started working in local venues and street fairs in Brooklyn which allowed him to branch out obtaining opportunities to manage as well as host. Hosting became Pretty Lou’s bread and butter. He expressed, “I got a genuine high when I got on the mic in a club. If I was ever in pain from anything, getting on stage would alleviate that pain like a Tylenol.” Many of you reading this, who considers music your passion, can resonate with Pretty Lou’s statement.
It was during the early 2000s when Pretty Lou and Hollywood KO started a friendship that later transitioned into a lifelong brotherhood. While working at a strip club, Pretty Lou and Hollywood KO immediately sensed a rare chemistry with one another resulting in an unstoppable force in the club scene. Pretty Lou described his experiences in the club. “When we work in the clubs, he does the music and I’m on the mic. We never practice. It’s like we can read each other’s minds with no words.” It has been ten years since they titled themselves “The Closers”, a name that suits them perfectly as their energy controls every crowd they come in contact with. Being on the mic with well-known DJs such as Flex and Kid Capri, were memorable moments in his career. The connection, however, between KO and Pretty Lou is unmatched. Having performed at the Barclay Center twice together, Pretty Lou reflects on the undeniable stage presence the two shared with the audience, “Me and KO rocked the Barclay Center and it’s crazy because people still talk about it till this day. This is why we are so good together because we don’t even practice.”
As our conversation continued, I asked Pretty Lou about additional relationships he had built throughout the duration of his career. One person who embraced Pretty Lou was Fat Joe. “I’ve known Fat Joe for so long. I look up to him on a business level and in personal life. I tell him everything. There is so much history with us and I know I can call him anytime and he would be there for me. I love this man.” In addition to Fat Joe, Pretty Lou also mentioned Tony Sunshine, expressing that he has one of the best voices he has ever heard. “Tony Sunshine was my partner in crime. I learned a lot about the industry from being close with him.” Pretty Lou also credited DJ Enuff and DJ Camillo as two people he learned a lot from in the music business. He made it clear that relationships are crucial in his line of work. “You take 5 steps back to build a solid relationship to take 10 steps forward.” For those of you whom read my material, I repeatedly mention the importance of building strong relationships in this business. Throughout one’s career, the relationships you develop can be the game changer pertaining to success.
While hosting at Hot 97.1 and filling in at Shade 45 for the last five years, Pretty Lou has had the pleasure of speaking with profound artists in the industry. As if these accolades weren’t amazing enough, three years ago Pretty Lou was invited to become a member of the Heavy Hitter DJs family. He described this experience as unbelievable expressing that this was an opportunity he had dreamt of his entire career. DJ Enuff, the president of Heavy Hitters, surprised him with this invitation, conveying that Pretty Lou had rightfully earned his position. When DJ Enuff announced the news live, on the radio, it became one of the most memorable moments in Pretty Lou’s life.
Along with every path taken to reach success, we are met with bumps in the road. During my interview with Pretty Lou, I learned that he has been battling Leukemia for the past six years. Initially, doctors made the assumption that Pretty Lou had aplastic anemia. However, a few days after being hospitalized, he was diagnosed with Leukemia. He quickly began treatment and stated he is not in remission yet. In June 2019, Pretty Lou attended a chemo session where he unexpectedly fell into a coma. Doctors predicted that he wasn’t going to live through it. However, two weeks later, Pretty Lou pulled through. During the two weeks of uncertainty, the hip hop community could be seen sending prayers and heartfelt thoughts to Pretty Lou and his family. The biggest stars in the industry such as Cardi B, DJ Mustard, and DJ Khaled, to name a few, were there for him in prayer in addition to his loyal fans. Every year, for the last three years, Pretty Lou has put together charity events. As Pretty Lou was fighting to survive, the hip hop industry in which he has a deep love for came together and held a charity concert on his behalf. He described this moment as humbling and amazing. Till this day, he thanks the doctors and nurses who cared for him but states he truly feels that all of the prayers for him are what also helped save his life. As he continues to fight this ongoing battle, he also continues to make a difference in the hip hop community.
During a global pandemic, the human race is filled with uncertainty and turmoil. The music industry has taken a large hit, specifically being unable to hold events, tour, and network in person. Pretty Lou, however, utilized this time to develop a platform that has put him in the spotlight on Instagram. With the pandemic causing his hustle to come to a halt, his wheels began to turn. In mid-March, Pretty Lou launched his IG live show “Turn the Tables”. This show is geared toward upcoming DJs allowing them the opportunity to share their skills with the world. Having celebrity guests on his show as judges such as Fat Joe, DJ Drewski, N.O.R.E., Kelly Rowland, DJ Scratch, Ted Smoothe, and Dave East also brings a different dynamic to the amazing show. The show is built, not only to entertain and give away prizes, but to educate and inform. Every night at 9pm EST, Pretty Lou can be found on his new IG live show, “Turn the Tables”, allowing the contestants two 10 minute sets. The first set requires the DJ contestant to play music from the theme chosen that evening. The second set is related to a trivia question. The winner of the episode moves forward to the championship. The championship winner is awarded with a plaque from both Pretty Lou and Def Jam, a $2k Pioneer DJ controller, and a trip to Puerto Rico. This show has given people hope during one of the most difficult times we have faced while also providing entertainment. During my interview with Pretty Lou he stated, “I revamped myself. Now it’s bigger than radio and clubs. I need the whole industry to know I developed this kind of show. I’m hoping and praying that this season opens the door to television. Now it’s time for the world to see it.”
I was honored to have such an amazing conversation with Pretty Lou. Although he has already added so much value to the hip hop industry, I can tell he has more in store. With everything he has accomplished to what he is currently battling, he is undoubtedly one of the strongest people I have had the pleasure of speaking with. Continuing to push through while also helping others, Pretty Lou remains humble explaining, “As you get older you think of and evaluate life differently.” I am eager and excited to see where his new path leads him. He will continue to leave his mark in the world of hip hop.
To become a witness to history in the making, be sure to follow Pretty Lou on Instagram and tune into “Turn the Tables” every night, Monday through Friday 9pm EST.