Ruff Rhymes

King Tee

The Right Stuff Records, 1998

REVIEW BY: Christopher Thelen


I make no secret about the fact that I've been a latecomer when it comes to various forms of music, one of which is rap music. I really didn't get into rap until I heard Digital Underground, and while I still don't know a lot about this genre of music or the artists that create it, I have more of an appreciation for it today than I did ten years ago.

Needless to say, almost any rap CD I get my hands on turns out to be a learning experience. Such is the case with my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250 Ruff Rhymes, the greatest hits package from King Tee. Despite being from Compton, the home of gangsta rap, Tee's music isn't nearly as violent as the cover image of a smoking gun would suggest, and the raps are more fun to listen to than one would have anticipated.

While Tee's music is no novelty act, one does have to respect the way he can take a classic song and give it a whole new flavor. Case in point: "Diss You," a track built on The Rolling Stones' hit "Miss You". Hearing the song develop, you know you're listening to something special - and why King Tee never became a bigger name in the world of rap is something I'm left to question.

If "Diss You" were the only worthwhile track on Ruff Rhymes, it would still be worth recommending. Fortunately, the whole disc is filled with tracks that most likely will be new treats for the listener. Cuts like "Played Like A Piano" (featuring Ice Cube), "Just Clowning," "Ruff Rhyme (Back Again)" and "Bass" all show how talented Tee and his crew (including DJ Pooh) really were in the late '80s.

So why didn't King Tee become a superstar in his field like N.W.A or Public Enemy? If only I knew the answer to that question. Tee obviously has the talent and the tracks to prove his ability. Maybe, once people pick this up and hear songs like "Payback's A Mutha" and "At Your Own Risk," Tee's star will rise. Here's hoping that does indeed happen.

King Tee could well be one of the best-kept secrets in the rap world today, and Ruff Rhymes is the CD that better get his name recognized by more than an elite handful of rap fans. If this disc is a fair representation of his three previous albums, something tells me there's going to be a run on those discs as well. Tee is an artist that is waiting for you to discover him; give him the chance, and you won't be disappointed.

Rating: A

User Rating: Not Yet Rated



© 1999 Christopher Thelen and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of The Right Stuff Records, and is used for informational purposes only.