King Tee – Act A Fool

King Tee released his debut studio album “Act A Fool” on November 15, 1988.  The album was produced by DJ Pooh and was released on Capitol Records.

The first time I heard “Payback’s a Mutha“, I remember being so excited that the guy was coming from Compton with a flow and voice that demanded you to pay attention. Many rappers have used the James BrownThe Big Payback” track as a sample, but King Tee was one of the first to do it.  Big Daddy Kane, Nas, and EPMD among others has used this dope beat, but to me King Tee and DJ Pooh used it best!  When this track first was released, it was played on a consistent bases on KDAY.  The track was an eye opener and gave us a glimpse of what this classic MC was going to bless us with! The track was about the “haters” that talked smack about the “King”.  What artists from the golden-age has come out with a debut single where he refers to himself as “The King”?  This guy had some audacity but had more than enough to back it all up!

See,I’m macho supreme
Head honch of the team
Numero uno
Kadafi of the Hip Hop scene
I could be a cool rebel
I’m already tuff
Dominate rap artist
Never spoke on a bluff
Down and I’m hard
When I’m rockin’ I’m smooth
I get a trophy for mostly doin’ B-Boy moves
Affiliated with a posse
Let me go down to the list
Scotty Dee,Keith Cooley
And cold crush Chris
Unknown’s a pro
He’s also down with the krew
The master mind of the drum
Dj Cool Pooh
If you ever get souped up
You’ll look like a poot butt
You’ll ask me to stop
And I ask you to do what
I won’t stop till I paid you back
By the time I’m through with you
You’ll wanna smoke some crack
Because I’m the King Tee
There is no other
Ya better get ready
My paybacks a mutha

When “The Coolest” dropped in 1987, I knew I had to get my hands on this album.  I already had “Rhyme Pays” by Ice-T and the “Panic Zone” EP by N.W.A, so I was waiting on what the next big gangsta rapper would be.  Look no further.  King Tee was bringing it with a west coast feel thanks to the production of DJ Pooh.  It was like nothing I’d ever heard at the time.

The third track I remember hearing is “Bass” and at the same time we were also able to see what this guy looked like.  For me, I knew what he looked like because he would perform locally in Los Angeles and if I remember correctly, I had seen him at the Compton or Slauson Swapmeet buying some gear.  With a funky west coast beat compliments of Brass Construction, people all over the country was able to see that Los Angeles was about to change the game courtesy of Yo! MTV Raps.

Cause I need some BOOM, to crack the walls
Break the windows, shake the room
When I’m done take my photo, this is how it go though
King of cool lyrics, and I’m solo
As a rhyme preacher, shoulda been a teacher
Let the bass reach ya, and let it beat ya
Never givin up cause I persist to be the dopest
I wouldn’t take it as a gag or a joke it’s
Serious, bass drum kickin like a ninja
You wanna dance to death, (?) send ya
If you say that I’m the coolest I’ll probably say “Truly!”
But at this time I represent Keith Cooley

The way that i was able to buy records once a week is by starving myself.  Let me explain.  I would get money from my grandma every week and instead of buying lunch, I would go straight to the record store on Tuesday’s after school and buy the latest releases.  I was 17 at the time this album dropped and when I dropped the needle on the record and played the first track, I was blown away by the storytelling side of King Tee.

Now I’m drivin down Compton on my way to get Aladdin
Feelin’ like a pimp till my tape started draggin’
It’s a old tape anyway, it ain’t no thing
Pulled it out and slapped in Dana Dane
Got to Aladdin’s house and I honked my horn
He said, “When we comin’ back?” I said, “6 n tha morn”
So he got in the car, lookin’ half-dead
So I gave him my Cisco and took the 40 to the head
Now I’m feelin’ tipsy, and I’m headed for Watts
But wait, what do I see sittin’ at the bus stop?
Sexy Susanna, had a butt that kills
Pretty long hair, but they say it’s not real
Aladdin yelled “You fake tramp!” She threw a rock in my glass
So I got out my car and drop-kicked her ass
I checked out my window, everything was cool
She was lucky I was nice and I didn’t act a fool

One of the earliest west coast posse cuts appeared on this album.  “Just Clowning” has Breeze, King Tee and Mixmaster Spade all dropping lyrics on top of a slow paced west coast beat courtesy of Parliament’sAquaboogie“.  Mix Master Spade brings his sing-song flow but the highlight comes when we get introduced to a young MC Breeze that would later drop his west coast classic track “LA Posse“.

Clowning, is like actin ill sometimes
But when I ill, I like to say a dumb rhyme
To increase my fame and star stature
I’m like Anita Baker I’m caught up in the “Rapture”
Hittin like bolos when I go solo
Last name is spanish but yo, I’m not a cholo
Keep the bass poundin, I like the way it’s soundin
Pooh is gettin ill while me and Tee is “Just Clowning”

The entire album is a classic and was playing continuously in my Walkman on my way to and from school.  The one track that was missing was “Ya Better Bring A Gun” but if you had the single for “The Coolest“, then you weren’t missing a thing!  DJ Pooh’s production is crisp and clean with no caffeine and before it’s time.  King Tee put Compton on the map at the same time N.W.A did, but with the combination of those two crews and Ice-T, Los Angeles was on it’s way to taking the genre by storm and putting a choke hold on the rap game!

-Al E.

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