Interview by: Kim Coco
Introduce yourself to our readers. Let them know your name, where you’re from and how we know you!
What’s up every body! My Name is Lou Ortega but most of you know me as Pretty Lou. Born and raised in Brooklyn NY. Park Slope to be exact. I’ve been in the game for 20 plus years. I’m a radio personality on Hot 97, one half of The Closers with DJ Hollywood KO. I’m also one of the DJs from the World Re-known Heavy Hitters DJ Crew, an MC, a crowd motivator and affiliate of The Terror Squad. The creator of Turn the Tables Show with Pretty Lou. BUT- many of you would know me as one of the biggest voices In New York City.
So Pretty Lou, this year marks a very special anniversary for you and you are about to give us the exclusive on that announcement! Without further a due, please tell the readers what is this major announcement you’re about to make! DRUMROLL PLEASE!
(laughs) Well, this year 2020, officially marks my 25th anniversary in the business. I started the same year my oldest son was born actually. 25 years ago.
Congratulations on celebrating 25 years in the business Lou. On behalf of everyone who has followed your journey and all of the fans, we thank you for all you have done for the culture of Hip Hop music. Lou, how did you get into the music industry in the first place? Did someone or something inspire you?
Yes actually, I would say around my high school era around the late 80’s, early 90’s. At that time I was so into the ladies and known as a pretty boy around Brooklyn. I also come from a Hispanic family and having girls and friends calling all the time, you know my mother would be like “The phone bill is gonna be too high. Get off that phone!” That was the same time when you had to pick the phone up off the jack from the wall to answer it or to make an outgoing call so she would hear everything. We didn’t have call waiting and all of that at that time. Since I’m 12 I’ve always been a hustler and made my own money so I wound up getting my own phone line for my room. I use to have this one female call me ALL the time just to hear my voice. She would call me and say “Hey Lou. I just want to hear your voice.” One day I said to her “You know we just hung up like 10 mins ago. What is it about my voice that you love so much? Huh?” So she says “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?” And at that time I was so in love with hip hop music that it just kind of clicked- like wait, maybe this is my path. Remember, I grew up during the era of Big Daddy Kane, KRS One, Rakim. So that was it. The rest is history.
Lou Younger Years:
Where did you get the name Pretty Lou from? Did someone give it to you?
They always called me pretty boy because of how I dressed and how I carried myself but I was from Brooklyn so I was still a street kid. The streets named me Pretty Lou but me and my brothers we use to box and they would call me Pretty Boy Lou. I was always very put together and wore the best of everything. That was my thing. But my younger brother changed it during my boxing days to Pretty Lou. I didn’t like it at first because I felt it wasn’t really masculine enough he would call me Pretty Lou around everyone and the name just stuck. At one point they were calling me Al-Dee. My middle name is Albert by the way. And I was big into art and graffiti. That was my name, Al- DEE. But the Pretty Lou name stuck instead because of my brother
Pretty Lou, you’re known as the first pioneer to make online radio as successful as it is today and for being the first Latino on internet radio as well as the biggest Latino MC in the NYC night club scene to ever get on that mic. So Lou how does a kid from Park Slope Brooklyn wind up as one of the biggest in the world!?
Wow, I started working in local spots and street fairs in Brooklyn NY in 1995 to working at music labels, doing management, internet radio. I was the only hip hop person on internet radio, not just another Spanish show either, to working in some of the biggest clubs in the city as an MC, and crowd motivator. I then became a radio personality to today- to becoming who I am now. I do the mix show on Saturdays on Hot 97 with my partner Hollywood KO. I’ve been with Hot 97 for 5 years now with KO and Hot is the first station to give me the opportunity to be on radio. I also fill in at Shade 45. My son was born the same year I really broke into music.
Speaking of Hollywood KO, you guys have a really close business and personal relationship. You call yourselves the Batman and Robin duo and go by The Closers. Tell the readers about your relationship with him.
Well I met KO through his brother actually. He’s about 10 years younger than me by the way. I use to host in the early 2000s and I was always with his brother Jordi. We became really great friends about 10 years ago working at the strip clubs together. When we started working together we had such chemistry and really understood each other. It was just something different between him and I. Look , I’m not gonna lie, I had a lot of friends growing up and I also have 2 brothers but I never had a friend that I felt like was an actual brother to me. He is someone I consider a brother. We are best friends but our bond is so genuine. We are honest with each other and trust one another completely. I trust him with my life. When we work, in the clubs he does the music and I’m on the mic. What’s interesting about us is this- we never practice. I have been on the mic with many legends – Flex, Kid Capri among many others but him and I, we just synced. When we are in the clubs and he plays the music and I’m on that mic, we don’t even need to talk to each other or even say anything. It’s like we can read each other’s minds with no words. What’s that word when you can read someone’s mind? Telepathic communication. (laughs) We just know each other THAT well that we know what the other person is already thinking. You know what, we did the Barkley’s center twice together already- The Sofrito Event- shout out to Adam Torres by the way but me and Hollywood KO ROCKED that building for that event SO CRAZY that people still talk about it. People were like you must have practiced so much before doing this event. But no- we didn’t. We never do. That’s why we are so good together.
Well – you not only go by The Closers but people call you guys the Batman and Robin duo. So I have to ask- whose Batman and whose Robin?
(Laughs) I’m Batman! He’s Robin. Batman always had his sidekick. He’s my sidekick. I’m his. We became the Closers 10 years ago and still going strong. We are energy, powerful and dynamic.
“Me and Pretty Lou met while working in the NY nightlife one night!!!!! The first time we worked together our vibes of him being on the mic and me being on the 1’s and 2’s were like NSYNC we sounded amazing … Never practice a set never rehearsed together for any event …. we just have that very strong Connection!!!! I consider pretty Lou my best friend but the love I have for him is deeper it’s like a brother love … like if he was my mother son -pretty Lou is a huge inspiration in my live because to see what he goes through battling his demons and still having the energy and ability to out work anybody in this industry is amazing! He always says this “I might have cancer but cancer doesn’t have me !!!! Pretty Lou aka Batman The strongest man in the world!!!!!!!”– DJ Hollywood KO
Pretty Lou- the thing that really makes you the wild card right now is that during the Pandemic when the rest of the world thought the music industry was at a standstill, you created your show on Instagram Live called Turn the Tables with Pretty Lou. You just wrapped SEASON 3! Tell the readers about your show that went viral.
Turn the Tables with Pretty Lou was born during the pandemic in the middle of March as a way to give upcoming DJs an opportunity to show their skills. It’s the first DJ game show of not just mixing music and being a DJ but it’s really about knowledge. It’s about knowing the music and about your craft. We give away major prizes and provide a really big platform and audience for the DJs to be seen and heard. Turn the Tables in on every night Monday- Friday and I always have a special guest celebrity. So far I’ve had The Heavy Hitters DJs on as guest judges, Fat Joe, DJ Drewski, N.O.R.E, Kelly Rowland, DJ Scratch,Ted Smoothe.
So, I have an episode every night at 9pm EST and I change the theme up every night. The DJs get 2 -10 minute sets. First set is of them playing music from the theme that is picked and the second set is a trivia question. Whoever wins the episode gets moved along to the championships. The championship winner gets a plague from both myself and Def Jam, a $2000 Pioneer DJ Controller and a trip to Puerto Rico and not to mention the major audience and platform from the viewers.
Turn the Tables
Pretty Lou which Turn the Tables episode has had the highest viewers to date? Your most viral?
Oh it was the Championship night episode with Fat Joe as the guest. We had over 20 thousand views that night.
So you just wrapped up Season 3 of the show! Tell the readers about the season finale episode and about the winner.
The winner was a DJ out of Miami. He did a great job. DJ Got Now. He got a plaque from myself and Def Jam, a $2000 pioneer DJ controller and the trip to Puerto Rico but he also got a ton of exposure and a new fan base.
Season 3 Finale:
When does season 4 start? And can you tell the interested DJs how they can submit to be featured on an episode of Turn the Tables with Pretty Lou.
Season 4 we back November 30th! The DJs interested in being on the show can send a DM to me and ill get back to them. One thing I will say is that their page cannot be private because I like to see what they are about. I say this is the Lion’s Den so if they are ready for the Lion’s Den, this is the place for them to flex their skills. Def Jam is a sponsor for the show. Big shout out to them.
Submissions: IG @PrettyLou
Pretty Lou you have broken some major records on radio. Tell the readers which songs you are responsible for breaking!
I’ve broken some big records in the nightclubs over the years but even before that I did when I was at Jive Records, Track Masters.. My Biggest Record that I have ever broken was ALL THE WAY UP by Fat Joe in the club. I was the first one to ever play it. I just a broke a record actually called Back by Jeezy ft Yo Gotti on Turn the Tables. I’ve been breaking records for years.
You became a one of the World Famous Heavy Hitter DJs 3 years ago. Tell us about that and joining the Heavy Hitter family.
First Big Shout out to DJ Enuff the President of the Heavy Hitters. It’s been one of my dreams to become a Heavy Hitter for as long as I could remember. It was actually something on my bucket list of things to do that I never thought would actually happen. I know Enuff for years and because of him, I’ve learned so much. I’ve learned so much from DJ Camilo too. For all these years I just wanted to make sure I was good. I’m the type to make lists of goals and things I want to accomplish for myself and becoming a Heavy Hitter was on there for soooo long so when DJ Enuff surprised me and told me he wanted me to become one of the Heavy Hitter DJs, it was- to be honest- UNBELIEVABLE. I never thought I would see it. But because of him I got to prove to the world what Pretty Lou could do and have a crew, a team and a spotlight that I could own. The whole crew of DJ’s all over the map from the HH’s are just amazing. I am proud to call myself a Heavy Hitter DJ and I’m extremely thankful to DJ Enuff that he made that happen for me. Actually DJ Enuff announced it on the radio that I was officially a Heavy Hitter. It was so special because it was like I earned my spot finally.
“Lou is a special breed to the game. He always gives 1000% weather is hosting events or putting competitions together for DJ’s.. He plans and executes flawlessly like a true general”– DJ Camilo- Heavy Hitter
“Before I became a Heavy Hitter, I always saw pretty Lou out here working and doing his thing. I didn’t know him but I was always watching and I saw he went thru a crazy battle of cancer and that man never gave up. He is a trooper and I have nothing but love and respect for him. Now we are legit brothers & family and I will continue to watch him succeed and shine”– DJ Nicky Rizz – Heavy Hitter
“Pretty Lou is one of the strongest people I know! I’ve seen this guy go from the hospital getting treatment to ROCKING multiple clubs later that night. It takes a powerful and resilient individual to not let not an ailment effect his God giving ability to entertain others” – Dj Wallah – Heavy Hitter
“Pretty Lou brings to The Heavy Hitter family- courage, energy and talent. He is a solider of strength. He contributes to the culture of Hip Hop Music in a positive way and Lou always goes out of his way for the rest of the DJ crew. During the pandemic , he gave DJs from all over hope, motivation and an opportunity to showcase their skills. Here’s to 25 years. Pretty Lou earned it”- DJ Stacks- Heavy Hitter
Pretty Lou, you’re also very closely affiliated to Terror Squad and especially to Fat Joe. Tell us about those guys and your relationship with Joe.
I know Joe for years and years through the industry and ya know, over the years we moved apart and did our own thing but about 10 years ago we came back together. With me and Joe- it’s different with us. He is like a brother to me. I look up to this man as a business level and on a personal life. There’s just so much with us. So much history. I know I can call Joe anytime and he’s solid, he is there for me. I love this man. I love Joe so much I’d probably give my life for him.
Fat Joe photo:
In 2015 you were diagnosed with a rare form of cancer and have been fighting over 6 years already.
In the early fall of 2014 I started getting real sick and losing weight rapidly, a few marks on my body here and there. With working so much we seem to forget about our health. At once point I thought I had the flu but it was like a flu that just wouldn’t go away. But my mother rushed me to the doctor. I remember the night before I was given my diagnosis I was in the club sweating up a storm with a hoodie over my head. The next day my mother took me to the hospital and a few hours later I got a call from the doctor saying “You need to go to the hospital”. At first they thought I had Aplastic Anemia and a few days later I found out I had leukemia. They sent me to Columbia Presbyterian in NYC to start treatment.
I’m not in remission yet, they don’t consider it that yet but it’s been a year and 3 months since I’ve had any treatment. Last year in June 2019 I did my last chemo session and it just didn’t go right. Something happened to my body and I went into kind of a shock and fell into a coma for 2 weeks and they were predicting I wasn’t going to make it. BUT- I ended up waking up. And when I came back, when I woke up, I came back 10 times better.
During the 2 weeks you were in the coma , the Hip Hop industry and the whole world really all came together for you, sending in prayers and sending love. The industry even carried on with your charity event called The Pretty Lou Birthday Charity Concert. What do you think about all the love and support you received during that time? Is there anything you want to say to the people.
You know, the event, just to know everyone came together for me – it was humbling and amazing that they did that. I have done 3 charity concert events- every year and was actually supposed to have one this year but because of the pandemic we put it off. But the fans, the other major artists who reached out and were there for me. People who don’t even know who I am to the biggest stars in the industry like Cardi B, DJ Mustard, DJ Khalid, Every celebrity you can possibly think of was there for me in prayer. What’s crazy is that when I woke up from the coma I realized that I had really stopped the whole world. I am so thankful for all the love. The doctors and nurses at the hospital saved my life but I honestly believe it was the prayers from all the people that woke me up. God heard you. GOD HEARD THE WORLD. Like this man has a purpose on this earth. Thank you from the bottom of my heart.
“One of my greatest memories of Pretty Lou was when I visited him in the hospital when he went into a coma. He was unconscious for over a week and to many people he was gone already. we still had faith he would push through this cancer episode. A bunch of us including his wife held hands around his bed at hospital and Out of nowhere I started to pray. During The Prayer I asked God That he please give Lou strength to pull through, and to please give us a sign that he will Make it. That’s when out of nowhere he started squeezing his wife’s hand and trying to raise his foot. Everyone who was in that room felt the power of the unknown. I was so use to watching Lou turn up and move crowds at concerts, clubs, and etc but nothing was as powerful watching God Move Lou Breathing life back into him. True Story, Lou was not done yet creating greatness. Happy 25th year anniversary”.
– Ricco ~ Terror Squad Affiliate / Pretty Lou’s very close friend
Pretty Lou 2019 Birthday Charity:
“I have done publicity for Pretty Lou’s benefit concert for the past two years. He is one of the most humbling personalities I’ve ever worked with. He genuinely cares about ny hip hop culture and we love him back” – Chanel Rae PR The Legion Team
Pretty Lou, tell us about how your family inspires you.
My family is everything is to me. I have 2 sons, a daughter and a step daughter. My kid’s man- they are everything. Everything I do is for them. My wife, we just celebrated 1 year of marriage in October and she is my rock. Every single thing that I do and every decision I make is for them.
Lou and His Wife:
Rapid Trivia you ready? OK Rapid Trivia – One word answers and no elaborating. Ready?
Ok let’s do it.
Who do you think is the best Latino Talent to come out of NYC?
Come on! My man Fat Joe . That’s easy!
Sum up the current state of Hip Hop in just 1 word
Best Pizza in Brooklyn
Damn this one is Hard. Pino’s Pizzeria in Park Slope. My neighborhood.
Top 3 Radio DJs of All Time
Angie Martinez, Howard Stern- I love him by the way- DJ Enuff
Favorite Old School Rapper
Favorite New School
New School Wow, Honestly I’m beginning to really fall for Travis Scott. My 14 year old daughter got me into him.
Who are your TOP 5 artists of all time dead or alive?
Prince, KRS One, Nas, Rakim and I love R&B so I gotta go with Al Green. And Tony Sunshine has one of the best voices out there. Always said that.
“I am extremely proud of Pretty Lou & his determination. A true warrior. Congratulations on 25 years”– Tony Sunshine
You are standing in front of 2 doors with only one key in your hand. The door to the left goes to your past. The door to the right goes to your future. You get 24 hours behind one door. Which door are you opening?
I would go back to the past. I would love to see people that have been gone from my life and maybe change a few things, do a few things over.
Pretty Lou if you had the opportunity to sit on a bench for one hour with anyone dead or alive, musician or not musician, who would you sit down with?
My cousin. My cousin Karen. I actually have this tattoo for her. She is gone for almost 14 -15 years already. I miss her.
Lou, what can the readers expect from you after the world opens back up?
I feel bad for the world! (Laughs). You’re going to see and hear more of me. You may see Turn the Tables on the big screen – a network,. I would love to get into acting so I’m going to try my hand with that. I’m at a different part in my career and I want to focus more on the business stuff of things. I’m still going to be working in the clubs, working with more sponsors. Anything is possible. I’m ready.
Pretty Lou Congratulations once again on your 25th year in the Music Industry.
Where can our readers find you on social media? Plug yourself in so we know how to find you for submissions, business inquiries, more interviews, bookings and all things you!
Booking/ Inquiries: @PrettyLou11
Pretty Lou Birthday Charity: https://youtu.be/Ivjpb3ZurYQ
Knock Out Desserts: @Knockout_desserts
Heavy Hitters: https://theheavyhitterdjs.com/pretty-lou/