King Cruff describes himself as “a trailblazing rising star who tests the boundaries of music,” which shines through in his newest single “SHEDOENEED” featuring Stonebwoy and Jag.Huligin. The standout collaboration serves as an anthem for all the independent ladies in the world, paying homage to the beauty and strength they embody.
“SHEDOENEED” is paired with a cinematic visual to match, shot in both Jamaica and Toronto — two places that birthed King Cruff.
King Cruff states, “Raised between the cold Canadian tundra and the tropical Jamaican landscape, contrast and duality is something that is ingrained in my character. The idea that two things that challenge each other can actually co-exist to bring new meaning. Cruff is a character that is warm and welcoming, but still maintains a strong mystique by keeping to himself.”
King Cruff, real name Solomon Marley-Spence, has been enthralled with music since birth, with songwriting and performance ingrained in his blood. He prides himself in his storytelling, while creating records that uplift and inspire audiences all around the world. Straddling the genres of Hip-Hop, reggae, in dancehall and funk, King Cruff’s versatility does not go unnoticed, always relating it back to his roots across the diaspora.
AllHipHop spoke with King Cruff to discuss his background, the new single, and more.
AllHipHop: How would you describe your sound?
King Cruff: My sound is an amalgamation of different genres that I loved growing up. There’s a strong foundation in storytelling Hip-Hop with hues of reggae and dancehall. I bring in some funk and disco when I can and a sprinkle of Afrobeats to keep the vibes positive. That’s the King Cruff recipe.
AllHipHop: You’re from London, now based in Toronto. How does that play into your life and career?
King Cruff: London, Ontario is this small hub city with a powerful budding music scene two hours away from Toronto. I spend a lot more time in Toronto now and it’s been a pleasure learning about the rich music history Toronto has. Just the other day I went to the Canadian film premiere for the documentary 299 Queen Street West about MuchMusic – Canada’s version of MTV at the time. There’s so much culture and music history to take in in Toronto but London has a buzzing music scene of its own and it’s where my artistry first took shape.
AllHipHop: Biggest influences?
King Cruff: On the rap side of things, I always gravitate towards artists that defy expectations and are creating on another level like Kendrick Lamar, Andre 3000, and Childish Gambino. Artists who grew up in environments that have such a strong cultural image and somehow found a way to both celebrate and amplify that but in their own avant-garde type of way.
On the reggae side, Stephen Marley and Chronixx are two very important influences of mine as well. The first album I remembered listening to front to back was Mind Control and it is still a top favourite to this day. Chronixx is an artist who, from the start of his career, challenged the trends and the norms of Jamaican culture to pave his own way.
AllHipHop: At what point did you realize this music thing was for real?
King Cruff: The moment I knew was when I started considering leaving university. I had heard my whole life about preparing a plan B in case music didn’t work out. Everyone tells you that when you’re trying to build something. But when you put so much time and energy and money into your plan B, what’s happening to your plan A? Then I started asking myself if I put all those resources into my plan A, what would I need a plan B for? I left university and went to audio recording school instead. I told myself I would still be surrounded by music but from there, my determination was set.
AllHipHop: What was the inspiration behind your name?
King Cruff: The name King Cruff is a contradiction – all my Jamaicans know this. A ‘cruff’ is a term used to describe someone with no fashion, no vision, no ambition. People used to call me this growing up because they would judge me based on the optics, not on the character. I took this name and put it beside the word King because I felt like seeing these two conflicting words together would give people a moment to wonder what the meaning was. What it means is the idea of potential – someone’s potential to either be the best at what they do, or the worst at what they do.
AllHipHop: “Shedoeneed” is out now, talk about how this record came together with Stonebwoy.
King Cruff: “SHEDOENEED” is a big banger! The record originally started with just me and Jag.Huligin on the song, this smooth track for the ladies. Stonebwoy and I have mutual connections between both of our camps and he had been following my music for a while. He somehow heard a demo version of the song and he loved the track from the jump. He has a huge admiration for dancehall music and he could appreciate the messaging and theme behind the song. It was suggested we get him on the track and not too long after, he sent through the verse that brought the whole song together. Big up Bhim Nation every time.
AllHipHop: What does the song title mean?
King Cruff: “SHEDOENEED” is talking about the women who don’t need anyone to make them feel as though they’re whole. It’s the main message of the song and the chant is the most integral part. I like the mindset of putting these positive messages in the parts of the song that people will sing over and over again. So that without them knowing, they’re repeating these messages that they need in their life. Music is psychological at the end of the day.
AllHipHop: Best memory from shooting in Jamaica & Toronto?
King Cruff: The scene in Jamaica at the end of the video where we’re all at the party. We pulled up at Janga’s at the end of the night and were immediately surrounded by friends and family. A lot of the cameos at the end are people I’ve known for years. My cousins Matthew and Donisha feature heavily in the video. That last clip where the motorcycles are circling around me – Matthew pulled me into the middle of that and we just started talking about life in the center of that mayhem. Money shot. We weren’t just acting for the cameras, that final scene was a celebration.
AllHipHop: What is it you want fans to get from your story?
King Cruff: I want the fans to feel heard and understood. I want them to feel empowered. I want them to wake up with positivity in their hearts. Or at least, any less semblance of loneliness. I want them to feel like the bad things that happen to them don’t only happen to them. That there’s a community that they can laugh and cry with.
AllHipHop: 3 things you need in the studio?
King Cruff: A story, some tea, and some tranquility. When I’m in the studio, it’s easy for me to get in my head about the creation process so anything to make it more calming always works.
AllHipHop: With Bob Marley being your grandfather, do you feel destined to do music?
King Cruff: The legacy of such an amazing musician had more of an impact on me as a person than my career path, I’d say. I thought Bob Marley was the coolest superhero ever growing up. But for a long time, music wasn’t really the first choice for me. I was very interested in becoming an author. I still am. But eventually it became such an integral part of my life that I couldn’t imagine doing anything else.
AllHipHop: Goals yourself as an artist at this point of your career?
King Cruff: As my audience grows, I just want to have more opportunities to connect and grow with them. More shows, more music. I want my supporters to feel as though they’re watching the rocket ship take off. And they all had something to do with it. Because they did. There would be no King Cruff without the fans.