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King Cruff's colorful musical palette knows few boundaries

A photo of rapper King Cruff.
King Cruff. (Universal Music Group)

King Cruff, the grandson of Bob Marley and Rita Marley, has music in his blood.

His journey to becoming one of North America's most exciting and eclectic young artists, however, has not been straightforward.

"Being a musician was always the goal, I've been a creative for a very long time, but I've done lots of other jobs," Cruff told Rising Rap.

"I used to work at a trampoline park, I've worked in construction, I've worked in a factory," he said. "All this stuff I used to do just so I could keep making music."

During his early days as an artist, Cruff made mostly rap music, spitting patois-laced rhymes over trap-style beats.

When Tuff Gong Collective/Universal Music Canada came calling in 2022, however, not only did Cruff decide it was time to pursue music full-time, he also decided to switch up his style, substituting the trap beats for the type of low-end, funky house backdrops you'd associate with his Canadian compatriot Kaytranada.

It was a change that saw Cruff earn both commercial success and critical acclaim. His 2023 song "Soufflé" made it onto the Canadian charts and was named one of the "Songs of the Summer" by CBC.

Given the success of his new-found approach, you'd be forgiven for thinking Cruff would have continued to pump out more of the same.

But the 26-year-old doesn't play by the rules.

"As time has gone on, I've been putting more reggae and dancehall elements into my work," Cruff said. "I just wanted to be more melodic."

Cruff's new single, "FALLBACK," is just the latest example of him embracing his Jamaican heritage.

Featuring neo-reggae singer Runkus, the track combines the party-inducing sound of a dancehall classic with sultry vocals and the tale of a hot-and-cold lover.

"The outcome is really cool," Cruff said of the song. "I don't think anyone has gone on a dancehall track and told a story like that in a long time."

In a world where musicians are too often encouraged to stay in their lane, Cruff's refusal to be put in a box is refreshing.

Moving forward, he hopes his colorful musical palette is what will define him as an artist.

"I like so many different styles of music, I want to be able to try anything," he said. "With King Cruff, you should always expect the unexpected."

Cruff, who is aiming to drop his debut EP by the end of the year, also hopes his versatility can help quash any misconceptions about his musical credentials – a challenge often faced by those who herald from music royalty.

"Of course, it's a massive shadow to try and emerge from," Cruff said when asked about his lineage.

"I'm so grateful for it," he added. "But I've always been someone who goes against the grain naturally, so having to prove myself doesn't deter me, it just pushes me on."


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