Tuesday, February 03, 2004

KING T: THY KINGDOM COME


still dippin'


I wouldn't say that King T is an unsung hero of LA's hip-hop scene - after all, his role in crafting the West Coast's gangsta heritage, in shepherding in the Alkaholiks, in being one of the fiercest MCs to ever emerge from the Southland are already well documented. However, after releasing some of LA's great rap albums: Act a Fool (1988), Tha Triflin' Album (1993), etc. King T practically disappeared off the map.

Part of the problem was that he was signed by Dr. Dre to Aftermath and was meant, back in 1998, to release an album that could have and should have catapulted him up the ranks but instead, a combination of label chaos and general industry wariness all but deaded the project. Thy Kingdom Come first appeared in late 2002 but only in Europe. Finally, it's had more of a domestic release (though not exactly being distributed by WEA) and for me at least, one really has to wonder why the hell no one bothered to leak this sooner.

Even taking into account that Kingdom Thy Come is now nearly six years old, the album still sounds incredible. It helps that Dr. Dre does the bulk of the production, this prior even to the release of his acclaimed Chronic 2001 album. But more than that, King T is in expert form - he may be older now, without the youthful aggression he once exhibited, but now you get an older, more mature OG who doesn't need to sweat just to make a statement. Don't believe me? Listen to his smooth menace on Da'Kron. King T's flow was always one of the best in the game and there's no sign of slowage here - he still rhymes effortlessly, distinctively.

Thy Kingdom Come is guest-laden, including DJ Quik, Too Short, MC Ren, Koog R Rap, Shaq (?!), and of course, the Doctor himself. I don't know who Killa Ben is but he and King T help light up "Reel Raw" which gets extra props just for using the classic old school "shocking females" routine (i.e. we are here to tell the world/just who are/shocking females!). Dumb hot.

Dr. Dre handles much of the production (8 out of the 18 total songs) and the sound is clearly pre-Chronic 2001 - it's not quite as funkalicious or richly textured as Dre's later work (nor as tinny as some of his Eminem beats from this same era) - but for six year old tracks, I doubt many will complain. Backing up the Doc includes Budda, Quik, STU and Battlecat, who turns in a definite winner with "Skweez Ya Ballz", a song that features Snoop Dogg in a "let's stay off of Death Row's radar" cameo as "Baby's". Whatever's clever - Snoop and King T together? Take that, it works.

The album should be available through many fine retailers (I found mine at Amoeba in Berkeley) but online, you can order it from a variety of spots, including Pop Life's gracious host, Sandbox Automatic (where you can here more sound clips). Trust me though - Thy Kingdom Come is worth it. Six years late? Better late than...well, you know the rest.