Indie Profile: London Hip Hop Artist King Cruff

Tell us about your band, including your history, where you are from and how you started?
I was born in London, Ontario, but spent most of my life growing up in Kingston, Jamaica. Music is so ingrained in the culture back in Jamaica, it’s almost impossible to not be attracted to that. Almost everybody you know is a musician in some aspect. At first, I aspired to be a reggae artist but as my tastes expanded, I found myself more skilled in hip-hop music. I’m pretty sure the first verse I ever wrote was for a science project or something along those lines. I was hooked. My friends and I set up little cheap studio and would record remixes to our favourite tracks for fun. The only problem was that hip-hop music didn’t have as strong of a culture in the Caribbean as it does in North America. So, there wasn’t a lot of avenues for development for a young rapper. When I moved back to London at the age of 17, that’s when I really began to discover myself as an artist. What I wanted to talk about, and what message I wanted to deliver to the wider audience.

Why did you choose King Cruff?
A cruff is seen as someone who has no ambition or direction. People used to call me that when I was younger, especially in high school. They didn’t really know much about me or the plans I had for myself. When I became serious about music, I decide to take the phrase on as my alias. I put ‘king’ in front of it to create that contrast. Describing myself as both a legend and a low life, because I have full potential to be both.

Do you have any recorded music available for fans?
Definitely, on all platforms. Spotify, Apple Music, Tidal, all of them. I’ve even been rolling out some music videos on YouTube to give the audience some visuals. I always felt like that was one aspect of my career that I was lacking in, so I’ve been investing in that more.

How would you describe your music?
The foundation of my music is hip-hop, but I always throw in elements of reggae, dancehall, disco and funk. I’m thankful for my producer/engineer Smoothe, because he makes it clear that there are no bad ideas when we’re in the studio. He’s always given me time and space to experiment. My music is all about connecting with others. Digging deep into my stories so that people can find comfort or insight for their own situations.

What makes your music stand out from the others?
I believe my live performances is what sets me apart. Rappers like to go up on stage and act cool and nonchalant. But I don’t hold back. In Jamaica, going on stage meant energy and theatrics. You have to show your audience that you believe every single word that you’re saying. Show them that you want to vibe with them as much as they want to vibe with you.

What do you like to do outside of music that contributes to their music?
My business partner Michael Tran and I created a promotional brand known as Urban Flavours. The idea is to use all tools available to bring more attention to young, hard-working artists in the London’s hip-hop scene. Our first endeavour was to throw a concert. The mentality in London is that a local rap show can’t pop off unless you have a big headliner coming through. We made sure that everybody on the bill was local. And we ended up having over 200 patrons in attendance. It’s not Coachella, but that night set an ambitious tone for our community.

Name your two biggest musical influences and why?
Kendrick Lamar and Stephen Marley. I chose Kendrick because when I first heard how structured and concise of an album ‘good kid, m.A.A.d city’ was, it changed how I looked at Hip-Hop music forever. The story he told of a young boy growing up in a hectic environment and struggling with peer pressure and his identity as a man was something I could immediately relate to. And I chose Stephen Marley because ever since his debut album ‘Mind Control’, he’s consistently pushed the barriers on reggae music, from his instrumentation to his choice of features on his tracks.

Who writes your songs? What are the main themes or topics for most of your songs?
I write all my tracks. And it shows, because all the stories and emotions I express are mine. When it comes to the subject matters on this project I’m working on, I tend to draw from my own insecurities. Why I feel the way I feel about certain things internally, and I focus on that. “Blackberry Groove” came from a lack of confidence. “Let Me Forget” came from a lack of closure. There’s something about committing to being vulnerable that tends to make your music more relatable, and that makes it easier for me to connect with my fans on a human level.

What has been your biggest challenge as an artist? Have you been able to overcome that challenge? If so, how?
Getting over the idea that I need to make a hit. Every artist wants to top the billboards and have that radio single. But I feel like when you put so much focus on creating a hit, you end up trying too hard and following trends. That’s when your creativity is compromised. It’s better to cultivate your own sound and make them love you for that. That lasts longer.

What current projects are you working on at the moment?
I have two collaboration EP’s on the way. “Dark Year” with Nati, drops in December, and “Concrete Crowns” with Typo, drops in 2021. As for my solo project, I’m taking my time to ensure it comes out as sweet as possible.

Source: 519Magazine