In the evolving world of music, where genres constantly blend and new sounds emerge, some artists stand out for their unique perspective and the depth of their craft. One of those artists is King Cruff, a talented musician who has been making waves locally and globally and whose roots in Jamaica and Canada have shaped his distinct musical journey. His latest single “SHEDOENEED”, is not just a catchy tune but a celebration of women. In this exclusive interview, King Cruff – who also happens to be one of the grandchildren of Bob Marley – delves into his background, the inspirations that drive his artistry, and the story behind the new single.
A Journey Between Jamaica to Canada
King Cruff’s upbringing was a fusion of two distinct worlds: Kingston, Jamaica, and London, Ontario, Canada. He describes the experience of growing up in Jamaica as one that exposed him to the natural beauty of the island, the vibrant culture, and the omnipresence of music. Music, as he recalls, was a constant presence in Jamaica, a source of inspiration that seeped into his very being:
“Growing up in a place like Jamaica, it shows you a different type of lifestyle…you’re around art, and all this music becomes ingrained in you…It opened my eyes up and made me a dreamer, it showed me that things that people say are impossible can be possible.”
However, his move to Canada added another layer to his growth as an artist. The transition allowed him to explore different facets of his identity, find his place in the world, and discover the artist within him. This duality of upbringing has significantly influenced his art:
“ I feel like that [London] matured me and that made me grow. I really found out who I was. People always say that to find out who you are, you have to move as far away from home as possible. I feel like that’s what I did. Those two spots of Kingston/Jamaica and London/Ontario have really big places in my story.”
Influences and Unconventional Sounds
When it comes to musical influences, King Cruff takes inspiration from artists who push the boundaries of their respective genres. Figures like Kendrick Lamar and André 3000, known for their lyrical content, conceptual projects, and innovation, have left a deep imprint on his artistic journey. King Cruff is drawn to artists who challenge conventions and make music that defies the norm through storytelling, and he says he wants to create art that follows the same path.
“I’m mostly impressed by just hearing something that I’ve never heard before. I always want to make something I’ve never heard before or something that I feel like never really been made before…I kind of gravitate towards music that went against the formula, and not only just went against the formula, but went against the formula and worked…I’m most impressed by musicians that I listen to their writing or their lyrics…so I feel like that always resonates with me. What you have to say is very important that words are powerful.”
In terms of what is popular today, King Cruff finds inspiration in artists like Audrey Nuno, Joy Crooks, Little Simz, and Greentea Peng.
The Meaning Behind the Name
King Cruff’s name is a playful twist. The contrast between “King” and “Cruff” reflects his personality—a blend of confidence and a sense of humor. It makes people question, adding a layer of intrigue to his persona. It’s a name that embodies the idea of not taking oneself too seriously while still being comfortable with one’s unique identity:
“I just chose it because people had pinned that word on me growing up…Honestly, it started as a joke…So I just feel like that juxtaposition was important to do because I feel like it kind of gives people a taste of my character.”
Crafting a Diverse Sound
King Cruff’s music crosses boundaries. He finds himself inspired to explore many musical styles, often blurring the lines between hip-hop, reggae, and more. He explains that he’s drawn to creating something new in every project, consistently aiming to surprise and challenge the norm. For him, it’s about going beyond the expected and making music that feels fresh and exciting:
“There really is no way to pin down a song. I think it just comes from the fact that I just grew up listening to so many different types of music… I just have that itch to try everything. I don’t think I could ever see myself just being like ‘This genre is the one’. I want to try everything.”
The Power of Storytelling
In a world that often focused on fast, popular music, King Cruff’s approach prioritizes delivering lyrics. He believes that music should be about conveying something important and emphasizes that the words and lyrics in a song are capable of touching people in ways they may have never experienced before:
“In my life, I’ve just had these experiences where sometimes it’s been a little bit more challenging than other experiences to really process and digest. And I feel like music just helps me with that. And if it helps me with that, then maybe someone else can hear this story that I’m telling and they can be like, ‘Wow, that happened to me’ or ‘I didn’t know anybody else was going through this’… I want my music to always uplift people.”
“She Don’t Need” featuring Stonebwoy & Jag.Huligin: Celebrating Women’s Empowerment
“I usually don’t pressure myself to try and make hits. I feel like that day we kind of had a mission. And yeah, we all got together and we made it happen.”
King Cruff’s latest single, “She Don’t Need” stands as a nod to women: it is not just a song but a message of support and encouragement. In a music landscape that frequently celebrates independence and strength in women through the lens of female artists, King Cruff’s track provides a male perspective. He believes it’s crucial to let women know they are valued, loved, and appreciated. While the song sometimes speaks to the essence of a particular woman in King Cruff’s life, it’s also a representation of women as a collective.
“Later on at some point, Stonebwoy had heard the track. And he’s just like, ‘Yo, I like this one”. And my team was like, ‘If you like it, maybe drop a little something’. He came through and he dropped a little bit of him on it. And it all came together very, very well.
The music video for “She Don’t Need” equally as great as the new single and directed by Kit Weyman was partly filmed in Jamaica, and part of it was filmed in Toronto:
“I’m pretty sure you could tell which part is filmed in Toronto. The majority of it was filmed in Jamaica, I got to visit some places that have kind of influenced me or been a part of my journey; like Bob Marley Beach. The story in the video is incredible, shout out to Kit”.
While King Cruff is a bit cryptic about his future projects, he assures fans that there’s more music on the horizon. He’s dedicated to exploring new sounds and constantly pushing the boundaries of his art. While he doesn’t reveal much about specific upcoming projects, he is confident that there is plenty more to come.
A Parting Philosophy
King Cruff’s philosophy for life is simple but profound: don’t be afraid to be yourself. He emphasizes the importance of living life on your own terms, unburdened by others’ opinions or judgments:
“One thing I’ve always told myself is to not worry about looking stupid, or to not worry about what your friends or your local friends that you grew up with in high school or this person or that person thinks. It’s just what feels right to you. If you’re not hurting yourself or anybody else around you, then I feel like that’s what’s important. I don’t think anybody should mute themselves. I don’t think anybody should make any decision in their life based on another person’s opinion. And then they’re the ones that are forced to live with that decision and the consequences. They should live their life the way they envisioned it. That’s something I’m pretty big on.”
As we conclude this interview, King Cruff stands on the precipice of a promising music career. His unique blend of influences and dedication to his craft are sure to captivate audiences around the world. As Sidedoor, we give our special thanks to him and Stephanie Horak for their time for this interview.