Friday, January 24, 2014

The Return Of King Tee!

King Tee is back!  If you haven't heard, King Tee has released a new album.  I mean, you might argue that this is a mixtape rather than a proper album. He did release it first online as a free download billed as a mixtape in 2012. It's not really mixed, but a couple songs do bleed into each other (I hate that, by the way), and it is even referred to as a mixtape in the music itself at one point. But this is now a proper, physical CD version, released in 2013, available all over, including amazon, who has it listed as a "Collector's Edition, Limited Edition, Limited Collector's Edition." That's going a bit overboard, but it is more legitimate now, right?

And this is exciting, because this is his first new album (or mixtape... it's not like he's been releasing those over the years) since his 1998 Aftermath album barely came out in 2002. I mean, yeah there was The Ruthless Chronicles in '04, but that wasn't a real album. It was just a bunch of tracks from Thy Kingdom Come and some other random odds and ends. That was a huge mess (which I broke down here); but the the short version is he hasn't really come out with a solid batch of new material since the 90s until now.

 And it's.... pretty good. A lot of the production feels cheap, and again it's top heavy with cameos: We've got: MC Eiht, Big 2 da Boy, Yung Gold, Xzibit, Silky Slim, Butch Cassidy, Eastwood, BG Knoccout, Roc C, Sean Price, Rampage, Valle Ru, 1st Generation, Short Khop; Mitchy Slick, Tha Relitivez, Staycee Adamz (hook girl), Mac Lucci, Brevi, 2nd II None, Rapheal Saddiq, C-Bo, Matthew Aaron (hook guy), Deadly Threat, MC Chill, Ruff Dogg, 1 Punch, Jay da Man, J-Ro, Roscoe, Ras Kass, Styliztik Jonez, Tristate, and Dresta. And that doesn't even include the guys' whose voices you just hear in the skits or overdubs. Some of those names are better news than others, but overall it's the same issue Kingdom Come had - Tee buries himself beneath a sea of friends. Get some confidence, bro!

When it works, though, it's dope. "Soul Plate" has Tee reuniting with Threat - plus the long lost MC Chill (yeah, the one originally from CMW), over a hard, musical track and some nice little DJ slices for a hook. Shit is serious and atmospheric; these OG's ain't playin'. "Good To Ya" sounds more like a 2nd II None song featuring Tee than the other way around; but that's still a good thing. The only drawback is, again, the production feels a bit chintzy. A little sample would've gone a long way*; but it's still a head nodder. And Tee does at least keep one song for himself, the opener called "The Return" where Tee lays down the law. He's still the great King T(ee).

Other times, he falls short. The beat for "I'm Gone" just feels like a trendy mess of Tee trying to keep up with whatever the kids are listening to these days, and winds up producing some pretty generic Youtube fodder. He's got two versions of the same song in a row: "Sharkz In da Watah" and "Sharkz (Suwoopmix)." It has different guests and different verses, but it's the same beat. He probably should've just mashed them together into one longer song, but it's really not that great to begin with. And the last song, "A Letter To My Homeboyz" is...just Dresta by himself? Tee's not even on it! It's also pretty damn sappy.

So Still Trifflin' has been upgraded to a "Collector's Edition, Limited Edition, Limited Collector's Edition." If you're a Tee fan, the good material stuff is enough to make it worth the purchase. Especially since a Tee release is a rare thing now. Haley's comet may pass by before we get another one. But the content of this album definitely feels like a mixtape, and even though I'm not optimistic about it, my fingers are crossed that this really is a prelude to something more.

*They've gotta be avoiding sampling for budgetary reasons, which is a definite detriment, but the album is loaded with vocal samples on the hooks and stuff... There's a ton, and some very conspicuous, easy to recognize stuff. Surely those are just as copywritten? If you're willing to risk that, why not make the music better while you're at it?

1 comment: