King Los Bio

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Every hip hop fan has watched at least one clip of the infamous “Five Fingers of Death.”

You know exactly what I’m talking about: the hip hop gauntlet thrown down by DJ Sway Galloway on Shade 45. Playing five beats with varying tempos, Sway challenges his guest to freestyle continuously as one beat progresses to another.

Over the years, the Five Fingers of Death has produced some good performances (Logic, Lupe Fiasco, and…Shia LaBeouf?), some bad performances (Skeme, Omelly), and one really awkward sequence (Kanye West, who promptly went south).

And then, there’s King Los.

This street poet from Baltimore took on the Five Fingers of Death twice. Don’t ask me to say which freestyle is better, as that would be akin to choosing between two exquisite cuts of filet mignon.

Look up either the 2014 or the 2015 clip, and you’ll marvel at how Los cooked up delicious bars one after the other. And, just to rub it in, Los made it a point to tell Sway “It’s not enough”…before he even began freestyling!

There’s absolutely no shortage of bravado there, and for good reason. The life of Los has taken so many twists and turns, some of which could have derailed the careers of other rappers.

The King, though, kept his eyes fixed on the throne and rose to his feet more times than he was knocked down. While Los doesn’t exactly have an empire or grand army to command, he has amassed the only type of wealth that he’s ever cared about: the genuine respect of his fans and peers.

Quick Facts

Birth Date March 23, 1982
Birth Place Baltimore, Maryland
Nationality American
Zodiac Sign Aries
Children Brixton Royal Coleman (b. 2013)
Most Successful Songs “Ocho Cinco” (with French Montana, Machine Gun Kelly, Puffy, and Red Cafe)

 

“War” (feat. Marsha Ambrosius)

Social Media twitter.com/iamKingLos

 

instagram.com/iamkinglos

facebook.com/iamkinglos

Last updated November 20, 2022

Early Years

king los early years

He was born Carlos Coleman on March 23, 1982 in Baltimore, Maryland. When asked to describe his hometown in a 2022 interview with VladTV, Los called Baltimore “beautiful ugly,” in that the city’s tough environment ended up shaping his character for the better.

“It prepared me so much for the rest of the world,” Los said of the rough streets that he grew up in. “When I made it out of that environment, things weren’t very challenging to me.”

Los added that Baltimore instilled in him a fierce competitive spirit, which fit perfectly well with the musical genre that he grew up loving.

Like so many other young men in high school, Los filled his bedroom with posters of hip hop greats; in the VladTV interview, he indicated that LL Cool J, Jay-Z, Ludacris, and Lil Wayne had adorned his walls at some point. But, instead of raw reverence, Los would look at each poster and say, “I’m gonna be better than you one day.”

How did Los come to love hip hop music in the first place? Unfortunately, it was tragedy that pushed him in this direction. When Los was 16, his father was murdered inside a car. (To this day, Los himself is unsure whether it was a robbery, a transaction gone wrong, or some other deadly scenario.)

Though it would take Los several years to cope with the loss of his dad, he could at least turn to rap music as an outlet for his wave of emotions.

Aside from this psychological factor, Los already had a literary background that helped him transition smoothly to the craft of writing raps. Even before he entered high school, Los loved to immerse himself in the poetry of William Shakespeare, Robert Frost, Emily Dickinson, and former Baltimore resident Edgar Allan Poe.

For these two strong reasons, Los mustered the confidence to enter his first hip hop arena: the lunchroom. Filled with high school peers that would tap their tables to play a beat, the cafeteria of Los’ high school alma mater would be the first platform for his talents to shine.

Prior to lunch period, Los would prepare verses that he would stack as ammunition to take down his battle rap foes.

With every lunchroom battle, Los honed his craft while soaking in the adulation of his fellow students. The affirmation that he received from this early audience only served to elevate his confidence to even higher levels.

Style-wise, Los patterned his verses after Big Pun, Canibus, Nas, and Big L. (I’d say that there’s a lot of Pun in Los, especially when it comes to the tightness of his flows.)

By the age of 18, Los had already widened his horizons by joining battles around the Baltimore area. While getting some local buzz must have felt great for him, the opportunity of a lifetime would present itself within a couple of years. Conveniently, it would only be an hour’s drive away.

Making the Band

king los making the band

In 2002, fresh from his high school graduation, Los was driving with his homies in Washington, D.C. when they saw a long line of people. When they asked what these people were queuing up for, they found out that it was an audition for the second iteration of an MTV reality show.

The title of the show was Making the Band, and the man looking to put a band together was none other than Sean “P. Diddy” Combs.

So what did Los do? He proceeded to do Los things—cut in line, piss off a bunch of people in the process, and not care. Los got his turn to audition way earlier than he should have, and as a testament to his skill level by that point, he got accepted. What a boss move, huh?

Soon afterwards, Los would fly to New York to join the other talents selected for Diddy’s group, which included Frederick “Freddy P” Watson, Lynese “Babs” Wiley, and Sara Rivers. The band members were housed in a hotel, where they were given their contracts to sign. One person, though, had no intention to ink their signature.

So, in the middle of the night, Los got one of his friends to pick him up from that hotel and drive him back to Baltimore.

The balls on this guy! I can’t even begin to fathom the audacity that fuelled Los to up and leave an opportunity offered by one of the finest producers in the rap game. And when Puffy called him up the next day, Los had this to say to the Bad Boy Records founder: “It ain’t my style, man. I don’t wanna be in a group.”

Apparently, that day in D.C., Los cut in line with the end goal of meeting Puffy and going to business for himself, with no intention of sharing the spotlight with a collective unit.

Though Los himself closed that particular door of possibility, it wouldn’t be the last time that he would cross paths (or, perhaps more appropriately, run around in circles) with Mr. Combs.

Los Joins Bad Boy, But…

I think it’s worth noting that, after graduating from high school, Los did have a brief college stint. Claiming to have had no financial assistance from family members, Los entered a computer science program, which he would leave after a couple of life-altering events.

You see, aside from the Making the Band saga, Los also got to attend the BET Awards in California. Mesmerized by the presence of Snoop Dogg and other hip hop luminaries, Los realized that he was in the “wrong place” as far as his college enrollment was concerned.

Soon after his sojourn out west, Los dropped out of school to fully commit himself to the pursuit of a hip hop career.

After turning down the contract connected to Making the Band, Los continued to hone his craft. In particular, his freestyling skills gained more and more notoriety.

In the time-honored tradition of “I’ll call my guy and see what I can do,” Los impressed one industry insider after another until he finally worked his way back to the head honcho that he’d targeted a few years earlier.

On October 14, 2005, Los found himself in the studio with Puffy. No long queues, no reality show, and no band members to ingratiate himself with. That studio session was caught on camera, so that every hip hop fan can lose count of the number of flows, punchlines, and intricate rhymes that Los unleashed.

Not long after this session, Puffy made Los a Bad Boy talent via a record deal with the Baltimore label Bloc Incorporated. In the process, Puffy beat Jay-Z to the punch.

Hov had been slated to personally meet Los, but using some sleight of hand, Puffy ensured that the youngster would sign with him instead! (What sleight of hand is this? Well, let’s just say that Puffy may or may not have prevented the meeting from even taking place.)

Whether this was Los’ master plan back in 2002—to rid himself of all hindrances en route to a solo career under Puffy’s tutelage—is a discussion worth having.

The sad irony, though, is that Los would not even get a chance to release any sort of material during this time. Bloc Incorporated would fold in 2008, and Los’ deal with Bad Boy ended up being a casualty.

Back to the Lab, Back at It with Bad Boy

After all the line-jumping, network-expanding, and freestyling, Los found himself exactly how he started: unsigned, with no record label to call home.

This would have been rock bottom, but with uncanny wisdom, Los realized that he knew exactly what that looked like. “I used to weigh everything against the death of my father,” Los said in the VladTV interview. “So…nothing could really fuck me over no more.”

Determined to pick himself back up, Los decided to go the independent route in terms of dropping his material. And boy, did he get busyfrom 2008 to 2010, he released no less than seven mixtapes.

For someone with as much pride and passion as King Los, it was almost as if he regurgitated the pent-up brilliance that he’d been dying to put on wax since he was in high school.

This body of work was quite impressive for an independent artist, but Los drew some next-level acclaim when he dropped the mixtape The Crown Ain’t Safe in 2011. I’ll give you three chances to guess the hip hop legend who wanted to sign Los off the strength of this project.

That’s right: in 2012, Puffy proudly announced that he had directly signed Los to Bad Boy Records.

In an interview with Sway Galloway (who was working with MTV News at the time), Puffy had this to say about Los’ signing: “It’s time for a whole new generation…we’re trying to put that young, youthful energy out in the air and do it the only way that Bad Boy can do it.”

For further context, this was shortly after Puffy had signed a couple of other young bucks to Bad Boy: Machine Gun Kelly and French Montana. Having bolstered his ranks with young lions, Puffy was right to be pumped about the future of his team.

So you have Los, Puffy, and a team. You might, therefore, have an inkling of how this ends…

To be fair, Los did have a few things going on at Bad Boy. In 2012, he was a featured artist on the French Montana track “Ocho Cinco” (alongside Puffy, Red Cafe, and Machine Gun Kelly). The following year, he released the mixtape Becoming King, which received positive reviews.

Why, then, did Los leave Bad Boy yet again in 2014, despite having to live through that dry spell from 2005 through 2008 (not to mention overcoming all that Making the Band drama)? Los has since stated that his issue was with the parent label Interscope rather than Bad Boy itself.

I’m not sure what the exact issue was, but I did come across an interesting perspective on the second time that Los and Bad Boy parted ways.

Here’s what Wesley Case of The Baltimore Sun had to say just days after this transpired: “Chances are Los realized artists with fewer natural gifts – French Montana, Machine Gun Kelly, Cassie and even Diddy himself – are likely to have their releases properly pushed before his.”

Is that so, Mr. Case? While we may never know the exact thought process behind Los’ departure in 2014, it’s worth noting that Los called Puffy his “mentor” in an MTV interview just a day after he left Bad Boy. Puffy also happened to be an executive producer on Los’ long-awaited debut album, which was just about to simmer on the stove.

Big Things on the Horizon

king los big things on the horizon

During an appearance on Hot 97’s Ebro in the Morning, Los announced that he had secured a deal with 88 Classics/RCA Records. This would be the platform for the launch of his very first studio album on June 23, 2015.

To say that the God, Money, War project was long overdue would be one hell of an understatement. I’d have to say, though, that Los’ fans didn’t wait in vain, as this album is characterized by the ingenious wordplay that his fans had grown accustomed to in the underground scene.

There is also an impressive range of topics covered in this project—from political themes to personal milestones like fatherhood.

Though I assume that the distribution of God, Money, War would have been on an entirely different level had Los remained with Bad Boy, I’d say that it’s still impressive for the project to have cracked the Billboard 200 (with a peak position of number 68). So now, the question is: when is Los going to follow this up?

In the years that followed the release of God, Money, War, Los’ discography has consisted of mixtapes and EPs, but no second album. I wouldn’t be too worried, though, as Los has expanded his presence and visibility in the industry. For one, he revisited his battle rap roots by going toe-to-toe with verbal assassins on platforms like URL and Rare Breed Entertainment.

Check out his epic fights with Head Ice, DNA, and Daylyt on YouTube, and look at all the praise he’s getting in the comments section! (I do have to point out that, in the battle against DNA, fans clearly thought that Los BODIED his opponent.)

He was also featured prominently in the 2019 Netflix competition Rhythm + Flow, where he lent his expertise as a coach to aspiring hip hop superstars. I’m sure Los enjoyed giving constructive criticism—and, occasionally, tough love—to the contestants as they prepared their songs, cypher verses, and music videos.

As I watched him coach up these Rhythm + Flow kids, I couldn’t help but feel a sense of pride. His presentation as a Yoda-like figure—a sage who knows exactly what the hell he’s talking about—framed him in the right context as far as his place in the industry goes.

Legacy

So what is King Los’ place in hip hop history? While he definitely has plenty of mileage left, I can safely predict that his legacy will be defined by technical credibility and audacity.

As his entire career shows, his skill is undeniable, his fearlessness more so. I have no idea if platinum certifications or chart-topping singles are in the cards for him, but he has most certainly done enough to earn the respect of any fan or performer who values the poetic qualities of hip hop.

Why is King Los Influential?

why is king los influential

Anyone who hears King Los freestyle for the first time—whether on Sway in the Morning, at a rap battle, or in a face-to-face encounter like Puffy’s case—invariably picks up their jaw from the floor.

The scope of his imagination, spontaneity and lyrical ability is unfathomable; and it’s this caliber of lyrical skills that inspires emcees everywhere to set the mic on fire like King Los does.

FAQs

Question: Does King Los have a Family of his Own?

Answer: Los shares a son with femcee Lola Monroe. Brixton Royal Coleman was born on March 14, 2013.

Question: Did Puffy Diss King Los on the Rick Ross track “Nobody”?

Answer: Back in 2014, right around the time that Los left Bad Boy for the second time, there were rumors that he was on the receiving end of a cryptic, expletive-laced rant by Diddy. On the Rick Ross track “Nobody,” Diddy can be heard giving some unfortunate soul the business: “You don’t wanna embrace your destiny, you wanna get by.
You don’t wanna go into the motherfuckin’ dark where it’s lonely.” Is this rant the missing piece that explains Los’ departure from Puffy’s label? This mystery might remain unsolved, though Rick Ross claims to know the identity of the individual that Puffy was ripping to shreds.

Question: Why did King Los Respond to Kendrick Lamar’s “Control”?

Answer: If you watch his 2022 VladTV interview, you can tell that Los responded to Lamar’s incendiary “Control” verse out of respect for the Compton rapper’s ultra-competitiveness.
Rather than taking offense to anything that was said in the verse, Los perhaps wanted to demonstrate that he could verbally murder emcees with the same proficiency displayed by Lamar.
I find it even more awesome that, when Los and Kendrick finally got a chance to meet up, they exchanged numbers and took a picture together with Los’ son Brixton.

Bottom Line

At the end of his 2015 Five Fingers of Death freestyle, King Los let the world know precisely what he thought of himself: “I think it’s okay, man/I think it’s really, really safe to say, man/best rapper alive, on point, man.” Heather B cheered, Sway lost his mind, and no one disagreed.

If Los—the witty wordsmith and freestyler extraordinaire—wants to crown himself as hip hop royalty, emcees simply have to step in the booth with him to challenge for the throne. As far as I know, Los is still waiting for that challenge to come. All the while, he’s perhaps muttering two words: “Not enough.”

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