By the 1980s, Lil' Louis was hosting the biggest house parties in Chicago, and he began recording his productions around that time as well. His first single "How I Feel" appeared on his own label, and he began collaborating with Marshall Jefferson on several tracks - "Seven Ways to Jack" by Hercules, Byron Stingily's "I Can't Stay Awake." In 1987, his new single "French Kiss" became a local hit, then a platinum-selling international classic after being licensed to CBS and ffrr.
The success triggered a major-label contract through Epic, and the release of his debut album From the Mind of Lil' Louis in 1989. Charting a course across jazz-fusion and R&B as well as house, the LP was one of the best produced by any of the Chicago figures, and included session contributions from Larry Heard, Die Warzau and his own father on drums. From the album, the moody single "I Called U" became another club hit. His follow-up LP, the more stylistically unified Journey with the Lonely, didn't fare as well and Lil' Louis retired from recording for over four years, preferring instead to set up his own studio in New York and work on production with Babyface and Me'Shell NdegeOcello. He returned by collaborating with "Little" Louie Vega of Masters at Work and also worked on production for Black Magic. ~ John Bush, All Music Guide