Les Frères Celestin: Two Brothers On Opposite Edges of the Montreal Hip-Hop Spectrum

Louis-Phillippe Celestin, known as Louie P in the Montreal hip-hop scene, has been enamoured with the culture since his youth. Growing up in a Haitian household on the South Shore, he and his older brother, Louis-Kevin, got into hip-hop through video tapes with rap artists provided by their older sisters.

When Louie P and his brother weren’t freestyling over the beat of 50 Cent’s “Candy Shop,” the duo made beats on the popular software Fruity Loops, using a rundown computer that was full of viruses—thanks to file sharing services such as Kazaa and LimeWire.

“Our sister was obsessed with saving memory to make our PC last longer,” Louie P said. “We would have finished tracks and she would go on [our computer] and delete [tracks] that would take up space.

“[She was] like the police behind us, shutting down everything,” he added with a chuckle.

Similar to numerous hip-hop artists in Montreal, neighbouring Laval, the West Island, and the South Shore, Louie P is clamouring for attention. While he has opened for up-and-coming rappers such as GoldLink and Skepta, and has been featured on rap blogs such as Hypetrak and HotNewHipHop.com, it hasn’t turned him into a household name, unlike the older brother he still shares a room with.

Louie P’s brother is Kaytranada, a producer who gained fame after remixing songs from Janet Jackson, Disclosure, Chaka Khan and more, and has gained tens of thousands of listens through YouTube and Soundcloud.

Artists such as Mobb Deep, GoldLink, Vic Mensa and The Internet have used his beats, and he has gained favour from some of the most respected producers in music, including Madlib and the enigmatic Rick Rubin, who didn’t wear socks when Kaytranada met him for the first time. He has also performed DJ sets all over the world, and was recently an opening act for Kanye West at the Summer Ends Festival in Arizona.

As if the smorgasbord of previous accomplishments wasn’t enough, Kaytranada has an album due for release in 2016. The logical next step, perhaps, is to seek out accolades, which the producer admits has always been on his mind, even if awards shows are, according to him and Louie P, a popularity contest. Specifically the Grammys: Kaytranada thinks they are “the lamest shit,” but the beat maker admits he would be “more than happy” to receive one.

Louie P has done numerous collaborations with Kaytranada, mostly through their side project The Celestics.

Unfortunately, as Louie P says, his own name doesn’t carry as much weight without his brother’s attached to his tracks. The Celestics dropped a project known as Supreme Laziness in 2014, and Louie P admits that he was “angry” when the tape wasn’t as successful as he would have liked.

The brothers are two years apart in age but according to Louie P, they did everything together growing up as if they were twins. Once Kaytranada’s music career began to take off, unlike his own, Louie P admitted he did feel “envious” and “greedy.”

“I wanted to be as big as him,” Louie P said. “I was envious but now I’m not envious anymore. It’s more about the love, not about the fame.”

He even remembers releasing music and getting a modest number of views or listens, only for Kaytranada to tell him “it wasn’t good enough.” Now, the younger brother realizes that he has to continue working hard if ever wants to match his brother. If a career in rap doesn’t pan out, however, he feels he won’t be too heartbroken about it.

“I could care less about rap if I don’t make it,” he said. “I’ll do it for the love. I realize you have to do it for the love instead of the money.”

Kaytranada also advises that other Montreal artists need to have the drive to push themselves further.

“I’m not the one who’s going to be behind every rapper in Montreal, or tell anybody what they should do,” Kaytranada said.

“People in Montreal have to push their limits to be as creative as they want to be,” he continued. “A lot of people in Montreal are not doing that, and that’s what they got to do, and that’s what I told [Louie P].”

Both brothers feel that the Montreal hip-hop scene needs to revert to a time when artists offered more support to one another.

“People [don’t need] to wait for other artists to be hot,” said Louie P. “People have to change their mindstate and be open to other [artists].

“It’s cool to be at [Kaytranada’s] show,” Louie P continued. “How about selling out a Da-P show? Or a High Klassified show? Somebody that isn’t actually big, [but is] bringing the culture back. It used to be cool, but now it’s whack.

“I hate Montreal, I’ll tell you the truth. But I love Montreal too.”

“We had such a union, a big union of respect.” added Kaytranada. “But now you can say [the Montreal scene] is dead, because nobody comes together as they used to be.”

“You could make the weirdest music and everybody liked it. Now you make the weirdest music and everybody looks at you like a weirdo,” said Louie P.

The brothers feel, however, that there are promising names within the Montreal hip-hop scene, listing off rappers and producers such as CJ Flemings, Ceasrock, Planet Giza, Da-P, and High Klassified.

“There’s a lot of talented dudes in Montreal,” said Kaytranada.

When asked to pick one Montreal artist who they feel will be the next to find success, Louie P jokes that he and CJ Flemings will both be it, before admitting it will be Flemings and Planet Giza. Kaytranada hopes his friends, including his brother, are next.

“They’re more talented than me, on a creative level,” he said. “I wish all of them success like how I made it. If they want to, they can get it.”

Video by Shaun Michaud and Julian McKenzie

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