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Raising Kanan’s Malcolm Mays and Lou Lou’s Quest for The Simple Life

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Set in South Jamaica, Queens, in 1991, Power Book III: Raising Kanan precedes the events of the original Power series. This family drama revolves around the coming-of-age of Power fan favorite, Kanan Stark, the teenage son of Raquel “Raq” Thomas, a cocaine distributor with an emerging network of dealers across NYC. It explores themes of identity, violence, and legacy, but it also takes a deep dive into the pathology of family, discovering that those closest to us are the ones who betray us most. Season one explored these betrayals, secrets, and lies and the ways in which they fester, metastasize and ultimately erupt. But that was only the beginning.

When we last saw the Thomas family at the end of season one – Raq, Kanan, her niece Jukebox, and brothers Marvin and Lou Lou – they were all in very different places, personally, emotionally and…criminally.

As the first season of Raising Kanan ended, Uncle Lou Lou ended the season looking for an exit out of the business. Having barely survived an attempt on his life, he was horrified and shaken by Raq’s decision to kill a cop. Unaware that Raq had a desperately personal reason to have Howard murdered, Lou found her decision to be reckless, alarming, and dangerous. With his burgeoning interest, both financially and creatively, in the music industry, Lou had started to imagine and build a life for himself that was distinct from his big sister’s plans. Lou had started to dream of a life of his own, outside of the family business.

The youngest of the Thomas siblings, Lou Lou is seemingly gentle and soft spoken, unlike Raq and Marvin. He is also tough, fiercely loyal, and won’t hesitate to pull the trigger when called upon. Often the voice of reason, Raq trusts Lou Lou’s judgment and relies on him as her right-hand man for work and family matters. In season two, Lou Lou’s passion for music and dreams of expanding his label continue to pull him away from the family business. As he focuses more time on growing a new artist, he reaches a crossroads and must decide what he truly wants for his future.

In celebration of Raising Kanan season two, The Koalition spoke to Malcolm Mays to learn more about Lou Lou’s mindset after the events of the finale and whether breaking away from his sister ins season two could cause more harm than good. He sheds light on possible conflicts as Lou Lou tries to establish himself in the music business, overcoming broken trusts and dreams for a peaceful life.

Whether or not Lou Lou will break free from Raquel “is the dramatic question of the season and the seasons at large. What’s really difficult is definitely [the] direct conflict. Where that leads, I cannot tell you. But hopefully [Lou Lou] finds his soul.”

Lou proves unreliable as he starts to turn his back on the crime world in favor of his record label, placing all of his hope on a hot new artist since the light has faded on his previous star, Famous.

He is kind of in-and-out, and that’s irking Raq a little bit and he is focusing more and more of his time on pursuing his ambitions as a music producer: “You can’t be half a gangster. I really actually agree with (Raq). You’ve got to pick one or you got to do both full-fledged.” He continued, “It’s difficult when you start your own path…I think she’s just trying to pretend like she is not emotional but…she took it personally.”

For Lou Lou, music is a “physical manifestation or representation of his spirit and his soul. He is trying to connect with his spirit and his soul because he has not been in connection with it since starting this venture with his family. You see [him] wanting to connect with the spirit and the soul [but it has] a direct conflict with Raquel, as she calls it a ‘hobby.'”

The last we saw of Marvin, he was being arrested for drug distribution courtesy of Toni Deep, who had snitched on him to the police. Of all the Thomases, Marvin was perhaps the most content with his place in the world around him. Having finally worked his way back into Raq’s good graces, Marvin was ready to re-assume his role as his sister’s heavy hand. And unlike Lou, he was onboard with Raq’s vision to expand their territory and reach at any cost.

Despite the many differences and fights with his brother, “He can rely on London’s character Marvin the most. He can rely on everybody but Raquel for support. When it comes to who’s supporting his dreams, it probably would be Jukebox and that relationship gets tested this season as well, because they share the same dreams, and he inspires her, and she inspires him. He can rely on her for support the most as of now.” 

In Raising Kanan season two, viewers were introduced to Cartier ‘Duns’ Fareed, played to perfection by Omar Dorsey. Handsome, charismatic, overflowing with confidence, and always dressed to kill, Cartier sucks up all the oxygen in any room into which he steps. He has a vision for business, expanding into less crowded markets like DC and Baltimore and even into other types of business, like music, and he sets his sights on Lou Lou; especially his artists.

Omar is basically the manager and ‘family member,’ distant cousin of Zisa [played by Paulina Singer] who’s an artist I signed. He and I come into conflict often. At first it seems like he’s a homie, but I think there’s going to be conflict later because he’s so slick and Lulu isn’t with the slick shit, and Crown Camacho [played by Quincy Brown] is still in the equation, so it gets real. He is prepared for conflict. What he’s not prepared for is the manipulation behind the scenes, mechanizing and people plotting and shit. The Game of Thrones shit, he’s not with all that.”

“He’ll learn, he has to learn because Raquel is so manipulative, he would have been aware, but he didn’t know. He found out later. He didn’t realize he was being manipulated by her until she put her own son in the front lines and then he realized.”

In a lifestyle where success and death are interchangeable, Lou Lou dreams of a simple life that’s often free of Raquel’s drama. Whether he’ll live to see his dream come true is unknown, but until then he’s going to continue to work hard to make it come true.

“He would have his record label up and functioning [with] several artists. [He would be] producing [and] writing all their records. [Having] people hearing the records in Queens would be great, but he’d love to go global. [He would have] a cool little spot out of town the family could come to. The family [would] be completely divested from the criminal enterprise and fully invested in whatever enterprise he’s doing, and we all would live peaceful, happy lives [with] the kids going to better schools. Nobody is looking for bullets and guns and he [would have] a cool little lady in a cool little vehicle and some fly clothes. He’d be straight, he’d be at peace.”

To learn more about Malcolm and Lou Lou’s season 2 predicaments check out our full interview in the video above. Raising Kanan airs exclusively on Starz and the Starz app.

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